During the summer of 2007 I was up late watching TV, probably the last time I ever did such a thing, and a show came on about a conference that moves around to different parts of the world that encourages people with ideas to get together and share them. It was called the TED conference. They had one at SMU in the fall of 2009, in fact.
You name the big, innovative figure in our time, and he or she has probably spoken at the TED conference. Professors, entrepreneurs, artists all meet to share with each other what they know, and somehow the mixing of other people’s ideas leads to them being applied to find solutions to some of the biggest problems facing our world. Needless to say, I was blown away by the interesting work these people spend their lives developing and I support the endeavor in what it’s trying to do.
Listening to the different speakers these past three has presented a problem I’d like to see resolved soon.
The problem is that over the years I’ve listened to it enough to find a pattern in the talks, and the people they invite. They are mostly concerned with a handful of issues, and their solutions seem to give the more credence to the left in facing these issues.
I don’t think conservatives have been good in handling certain global issues of the day, but I also don’t think it’s the political philosophy that is to blame. The pattern of political power in its decline and ascent in this country has led to the left taking the helm on big problems our country needs to face. Another issue for another time.
On my eight hours of driving this weekend I heard most of the speakers bash George Bush and credit him in doing work similar to the Soviets or the Third Reich. Environmentalism is mentioned in 70% of the talks, globalization is a big issue, ending poverty is another big one, but I never hear anyone supporting conservative politics or their solutions.
A survey was done to find out how many people in the academy voted for George W. Bush when he ran for president, and the number was basically zero. Does this mean the more education a person gets, the more liberal they become? I doubt it.
What this tells me first is that the left dominates the academy.
Second, it tells me they are not up for discussion on these issues. They don’t know how to disagree with people. At the undergraduate level, I experienced more lecturing than debate on political issues like this. Graduate school wasn’t much different.
The political right is a valid philosophy with principles that can be used to handle these issues. Why don’t we hear their voice?
I don’t think this is a problem with the academy alone. Since I’ve been reading “The Economist”, a British news and opinion magazine, I’ve noticed how they engage positions at the level of argument and debate, not attacking the people themselves. Ad hominem arguments are rampant in the US, which is why when someone disagrees with another person in our culture it’s taken as a personal attack.
This habit is going to kill us in the long run.
Is it as bad as I think it is? Do we disagree well in this country?