Scott Walker Is Running For President

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formally entered the race for President, but can he overcome his flip-flops and a turn to the hard right?

Scott Walker SpeakingS

As expected, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker became the fifteenth person to enter the race for the Republican Presidential nomination today but, while he remains in a strong position his position seems to be far less secure than it was months ago:

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who built a national conservative following by crippling public employee unions and then defeating a forceful effort to recall him, announced on Monday that he is running for president as a Washington outsider whose taste for big fights would lead to a smaller federal government.

Mr. Walker is the 15th prominent Republican to formally start his campaign, doing so at a time of growing challenges for him, especially in Iowa. He considers it a must-win state in the presidential nominating process, which begins there in February.

“I’m running for president to fight and win for the American people,” he announced in a campaign video released early Monday.

As an unofficial candidate early this year, Mr. Walker got off to a hot start with several strong speeches and impressive poll numbers in Iowa and other key states. But a series of gaffes hurt him among some Republican leaders and donors, and his lead in Iowa polls has softened recently as rivals like Senator Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson have gained ground or campaigned more than Mr. Walker.

His fund-raising has also lagged behind that of several Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio, who are widely considered top contenders along with Mr. Walker.

Mr. Walker’s strategy is now focused on building a political operation in Iowa and campaigning aggressively there with an increasingly conservative message. He recently endorsed amending the United States Constitution to leave laws blocking same-sex marriage up to each state, and he is preparing to sign Wisconsin legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except when the life of the mother is in immediate jeopardy.

With those positions and others, Mr. Walker is aiming to sway conservative and evangelical voters, two dominant groups in the Iowa Republican caucuses. They may now have a particular affinity for Mr. Cruz and Mr. Carson, who had a combined 19 percent support of likely Iowa caucusgoers in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. But other Republican candidates like Mr. Perry, a former Texas governor, and Mr. Rubio are angling to appeal to the same voters, and Mr. Rubio and his supporters have more financial resources than Mr. Walker does right now.

“Walker had a great winter but maybe got a little cocky, a little ahead of himself, and now he really has to take the time to work Iowa and build up the resources to compete harder in the early primary states,” said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican consultant who has worked with David Polyansky, one of Mr. Walker’s advisers in Iowa.

To distinguish himself, Mr. Walker, a 47-year-old career politician, is building his bid for the White House around his style of leadership, reflected in slogans like “go big and go bold” and “a fighter and a winner,” and his record as governor since 2011.

He has also sought to enhance his understanding of national affairs and foreign policy by taking time away from the campaign trail this year for dozens of briefings with experts, heads of state and military officials. As a result, not only has he spent less time fund-raising than other candidates, he has also been absent for long stretches from New Hampshire and South Carolina, which have early nominating contests and where his poll numbers have slipped as well.

“I think he waited too late to get into the race, because there was such excitement for him when he was here in March,” said Catherine Welborn, a South Carolina Republican who heard Mr. Walker speak that month in Charleston. “South Carolina doesn’t have much time to get to know him, but one thing is for sure: He needs to come down here and tell the story about beating the unions. That’s the kind of person we need to stand up for America.”

As I’ve noted before, Walker enters the race as one of the strongest candidates thanks largely to the political success and over the past five years. His victory in Wisconsin in 2010, followed by a recall election in 2012 and re-election bid in 2014 that he won easily have put him in the rare company of those Republicans who have been able to win statewide elections in traditionally Democratic states. The fact that he did so in the midst of a showdown with state and national union leaders and Democrats over public employee union policy has only served to enhance his reputation among a Republican base that appreciates confrontation with the left. In addition to experience in office, Walker also has strong roots among social conservatives that seem to be helping him in states like Iowa and South Carolina where those voters hold a particularly strong sway. To some extent, then, Walker represents a bridge between the mainline voters who would be inclined to back someone like Jeb Bush or other candidates who emphasize experience over ideology and the more ideological wing of the party that emphasizes purity over actually accomplishing anything. In theory at least, it’s the kind of alliance that could leave Walker well-positioned to be main alternative to Jeb Bush after all of the shifting and sorting that we’ll see between now and the end of January is completed.

While Walker’s apparent campaign strategy may make sense in the abstract, in its implementation so far it has been less than ideal. Walker’s own comments in the months before he announced, for example, have left him vulnerable to the charge that he is willing to say whatever is necessary to please the audience he’s talking to even when he ends up contradicting himself. On immigration, for example, Walker has clearly seemed to shift his position on immigration reform when talking to conservatives, and has even made comments that can be fairly interpreted as being critical of legal immigration. More recently, he has endorsed a Constitutional Amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage, a position he repeated in the wake of the Obergefell decision last month, even though last October he was saying that Wisconsin must accept the legalization of same-sex marriage as the law after the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal that the state had filed.  On foreign policy issues where he used to be somewhat more moderate,  he has been an outspoken critic of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and suggested that if he were elected he would abrogate whatever deal President Obama ends up making during the current negotiations. For their part, Walker’s campaign team seems to think that this move to the right isn’t going to hurt him in the long run, but that is most assuredly an open question. This would seem to be especially true given that one of Walker’s own campaign people has been quoted telling National Journal’s Tim Alberta that “It’s much easier to move from being a conservative to being a middle-of-the-road moderate later on.” That’s the kind of statement that could end up harming Walker in the future, since it tends to reinforce doubts that people will have about just how genuine his new found conservative orthodoxy actually is.

Notwithstanding all of that, Walker remains a strong candidate heading into the race. He remains near the top of the field nationally, although he has slipped in recent weeks as other candidates have entered the race and currently is among those candidate who seems to be overshadowed by Donald Trump to some degree. His strongest position is in Iowa, where he remains essentially alone at the top of the field, which is one of the many reasons why the Hawkeye State will be the chief focus of Walker’s campaign going forward. The risk of that strategy, of course, is that if Walker ends up under-performing in Iowa his campaign will most likely come to a quick end. Walker’s position in New Hampshire is somewhat weaker and, while he remains in second place behind Bush in the poll averages he has lost ground in recent months and has dropped into single digits in the most recent polls from CNN and Suffok University. Walker is also in second place in South Carolina, but it has been more than month since a poll was conducted there so it’s unclear where he stands right now. Finally, in Florida Walker is in single digits behind Bush and Rubio, but this is state that won’t mean much of anything to him if he’s unable to do well in the three earlier states next February. As I said, Walker is in a much stronger position than many of the other candidates in the race but he remains untested on the national stage and his recent turn to the hard right seems to be the same kind of political opportunism than many conservatives accused Mitt Romney of in 2012. Whether that will hurt him in the long run, and whether the style that won in Wisconsin can play elsewhere, remains to be seen.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    This would seem to be especially true given that one of Walker’s own campaign people has been quoted telling National Journal’s Tim Alberta that “It’s much easier to move from being a conservative to being a middle-of-the-road moderate later on.” That’s the kind of statement that could end up harming Walker in the future, since it tends to reinforce doubts that people will have about just how genuine his new found conservative orthodoxy actually is.

    At this point Walker seems to me to be a formidable candidate. He’s not a moderate, he is nowhere near the supposed center of the ideological spectrum – he’s pretty far right and in style he’s much like the core members of the Republican House – confrontational, not inclined to negotiate (at least not as negotiation used to be defined). Ideologically he is a typical mainstream Republican: he’s hostile to public employees (he busted their union), he’s hostile to the state’s public university system, he’s extremely orthodox when it comes to the sanctity of tax cuts, and he’s for limiting women’s reproductive rights. There is absolutely no downside for Scott Walker to play to the hard right Republican Base, he’s completely in synch with them, he IS one of them.

    There are no “Independent” voters to be had so it’s all about turn out. Finally, if Walker doesn’t screw up and become Steve King or Michele Bachman, he’s already pre-funded by the Koch brothers.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    …vulnerable to the charge that he is willing to say whatever is necessary to please the audience he’s talking to even when he ends up contradicting himself.

    Hasn’t hurt Trump with the base. Or Romney. Or, come to think of it, any other Republican. His 14 point underwater approval/disapproval rating in WI won’t hurt him with the base either. Nor Wisconsin’s poor economic record. I have hard core Republican friends outside Milwaukee who hate him.

  3. Facebones says:

    Personally, I get a heavy Rick Perry 2012 vibe from him. Once he’s introduced to a national audience, he’s going to wilt.

    Still, he could get a boost from primary voters who don’t want another Bush as the nominee.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Is it true his suits have “KOCH BROTHERS”
    embroidered on the lapel?

  5. DrDaveT says:

    He has also sought to enhance his understanding of national affairs and foreign policy by taking time away from the campaign trail this year for dozens of briefings with experts, heads of state and military officials.

    That’s the most positive thing anyone has yet been able to say about any of the Republican candidates.

    Now, did he actually learn anything from that study…?

  6. Mu says:

    In the last 100 years Truman is the only man to become president without a college degree. History seems to put a high hurdle towards his ultimate success.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: No, no corporate logo on his suits. His owner’s name is on his collar tag.

  8. Avid sportman says:

    @al-Ameda: He’s hostile to public unions, no doubt about that. I don’t really consider him hostile to the university, at least not compared to the marketplace. The university system as we know it is a dinosaur and it’s slowly dying. The future of higher education is much cheaper and it’s online. This is a game changer and everyone is going to benefit (unless you happen to work at a university).

    http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/03/390167950/prepare-for-the-end-of-college-heres-what-free-higher-ed-looks-like

    Annual budgets cuts to universities are probably just starting. Colleges won’t go away, but they will look much different in the future and their operational expenses are going to be drastically less as a function of the marketplace.

  9. humanoid.panda says:

    @al-Ameda:

    There are no “Independent” voters to be had so it’s all about turn out. Finally, if Walker doesn’t screw up and become Steve King or Michele Bachman, he’s already pre-funded by the Koch brothers.

    And that in a nutshell why Walker’s politics is a dead end: he mastered the art of the ideological turnout victory- by running only in non-presidential years. Since the GOP base is smaller than the Democratic base, its a suicide to try and do that in a presidential year- unless you are very lucky and the economy is in crisis or something.

  10. humanoid.panda says:

    @Avid sportman:

    The future of higher education is much cheaper and it’s online. This is a game changer and everyone is going to benefit (unless you happen to work at a university).

    Research? Pfffffftt. Who needs it!!
    Training scientists and engineers in laboratories? Isn’t there an app for that?

  11. Avid sportman says:

    @humanoid.panda: These are important things, hence my comment “Colleges won’t go away, but they will look much different in the future and their operational expenses are going to be drastically less as a function of the marketplace.”

  12. JKB says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    This may come as a surprise to you, but research is not education, not even instruction or teaching. In any case, research doesn’t require student tuition to continue, it is a different funding stream.

    As for laboratories for training scientists and engineers, well, turns out, that to can happen independently of residence and even academic learning.

  13. JKB says:

    @Avid sportman:

    Yep, more labs and equipment, fewer lazy rivers and “sex weeks”.

  14. JKB says:

    @Mu: without a college degree

    Well, the time seems ripe for a public debate over the value of a college degree. As well in Walker’s case, does that value come from the courses or the graduation? Is the value in what is learned or in the signaling?

  15. Dave D says:

    @DrDaveT: He learned how to trick the taxpayers of Wisconsin how to foot the bill as he tries to abandon his obligations at home.

    On the eve of another foreign trip, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration disclosed Thursday that Wisconsin taxpayers paid $138,200 for his February trip to Great Britain — a trade mission laden with political overtones from his likely 2016 presidential bid.

    The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which organized the six-day trip to England, laid out the costs in response to a request from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, doing so a day before another taxpayer-funded, weeklong European trip that Walker is taking as he seeks to boost his foreign policy credentials.

  16. humanoid.panda says:

    @JKB:

    This may come as a surprise to you, but research is not education, not even instruction or teaching. In any case, research doesn’t require student tuition to continue, it is a different funding stream.

    It might be a suprise to you, but education is not the main activity of major American universities- research is.

  17. wr says:

    @Avid sportman: Wow. “Not hostile to the university” — which would mean a lot more if it wasn’t coming from someone who then went on to advocate the destruction of the entire university system. To anyone else, his slashing the budget and destroying their ability to compete for faculty by elminating tenure looks pretty hostile.

  18. stonetools says:

    Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who built a national conservative following by crippling public employee unions and then defeating a forceful effort to recall him, announced on Monday that he is running for president as a Washington outsider whose taste for big fights would lead to a smaller federal government.

    So he’s going to run on what it’s certain that people don’t want? I welcome his proposals to close unnecessary military bases in the South , shut down the failed F35 program, cut farm subsidies, curtail Medicare costs, and close unneeded rural Post Offices in the West.
    Something tells me those won’t be part of his program, though. No, look for a campaign to cut “waste, fraud, and abuse”, slash spending for “welfare queens”, touting “traditional American values” and promising to “take back America”.
    Who knows, maybe the old snake oil will work one more time.
    I would have to say that Scott Walker is just not smooth enough of a salesman to sell a product that we have seen doesn’t actually work.

  19. stonetools says:

    @wr:

    To anyone else, his slashing the budget and destroying their ability to compete for faculty by elminating tenure looks pretty hostile.

    You need to put on Fox News goggles for that stuff to make sense. Unfortunately, millions of people seem to be wearing those goggles these days.

  20. mantis says:

    @JKB:

    This may come as a surprise to you, but research is not education, not even instruction or teaching.

    Have you ever even seen a university? Research is education. Learning to perform research in your discipline, and conducting that research, is a fundamental, core part of nearly all post-grad education, and often undergraduate education.

  21. Scott says:

    I welcome his proposals to close unnecessary military bases in the South , shut down the failed F35 program, cut farm subsidies, curtail Medicare costs, and close unneeded rural Post Offices in the West.

    I wonder what his position is on ethanol mandates. Oh, yes:

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/scott-walker-might-clarify-stance-on-ethanol-at-iowa-ag-summit-b99457588z1-295473391.html

    In the moderated discussion with ethanol magnate Bruce Rastetter, Walker dropped his previous flat opposition to ethanol mandates, offering a new stance that’s well-suited to a state covered in cornfields. Walker signaled that he favors keeping the mandate for now and phasing it outin the future — without saying over what period.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:
    hahahaha.
    It always cracks me up when someone who clearly has no knowledge of a topic spews out these kinds of dictums.
    Luckily…for education…Scott Walker doesn’t stand a chance of ever being President of the United States of America.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB: Obviously enough, you don’t have a clue about what you are talking about Research is exactly what students do at universities.

  24. Avid sportman says:

    @wr: Which is why I prefaced my comment with “at least not compared to the marketplace”. I’m not advocating for the destruction of anything, the university system is changing, not going away; and I assure you I will have had nothing to do with it. I honestly fail to see how affordable quality college that is available to everyone regardless of race, or economic standing is a bad thing. Higher education has been relatively unchanged for the past 400 years, it’s a bit naive to think it’s going to go another 400 years without evolving. I also fully admit that Walker had no such grand design when he made his cuts, and that they were politically motivated. I thought I made that clear in my original post, I guess not. One could postulate that everything is black and white and that you are either hostile or not but I don’t think it’s that simple. If you would prefer a “everything Walker does is going to destroy everything” discussion I’ll just bow out now. And no I’m not going to vote for him. I have no intention of that.

  25. Scott says:

    @mantis: There is a discussion to be had about the intersection of research, education, and job training.

    The emphasis in recent years has been on specialized job training which I think most college students really want. Is the university the best place to accomplish this? That is debatable.

    Education which is about training the mind is, IMO, the role of the university.

    However, the bitter complaining about universities coming from the likes of Walker and Perry comes from a deep place of resentment generated by their failure to thrive in a University setting. And they go ahead and impose their resentments on the rest of us.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: In Walker’s case I expect there’s also a heavy element of resentment and revenge against the opposition to him from the Peoples Republic of Madison centered around UW.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: I think what most college students want is a decent job that pays them enough to live a decent life and pay off their student loans. So naive….

  28. KM says:

    @C. Clavin :

    Is it true his suits have “KOCH BROTHERS” embroidered on the lapel?

    More like on the inseam.

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think what most college students want is a decent job that pays them enough to live a decent life and pay off their student loans.

    Then they probably shouldn’t be in college, most of them. They should be in an apprenticeship or training program based on a paradigm that is very different from either classical liberal arts education or preparation for graduate study in a technical field.

    This is still my biggest gripe with the Obama presidency — that he reneged on his promise to expand the definition of “good education” to include nontraditional apprenticeship and training programs that do not require good SAT scores and that make people self-sufficient enough for their kids to choose (if they want) a classical liberal arts education.

  30. Electroman says:

    @wr:
    In the spirit of full disclosure, I detest Walker and will never, ever vote for him.

    That being said, Walker isn’t really proposing eliminating tenure. What he’s proposing is removing black-letter law legal protection of tenure. This isn’t just an academic (pun intended) distinction, either. In many states tenure isn’t backed by law and hasn’t been for a long time. Back in the 80s when I was at Purdue, it was the case in Indiana. Purdue (a state-run university) and their faculty seem to be doing just fine.

  31. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: It could say “Made in China”
    Or “Made in Mexico”

  32. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    Scott Walker= 2016´s Tim Pawlenty.

  33. elizajane says:

    @Electroman:

    As I understand it, the tenure structure that his appointed board of trustees prefers would allow tenure to be revoked if a program is shut down. So they could say “Environmental Engineering? What a crock!” and just shut down the program, thereby rescinding the tenure of everybody in it. Under the current tenure law, they would have to reassign all those professors to other departments (chemistry, civil engineering etc) where they would continue to do their work.

    I realize that it’s most likely that such moves would hit Women’s Studies, say, or Chicano Studies. But I used Environmental Engineering as an example because 1) it’s not completely implausible and 2) it’s the faculty in STEM fields who are most likely to take other job offers, or move to another university, as Madison is subjected to these new rules.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: Agreed, about the expansion, but is it too much to ask that graduates with a college degree should be able to pay off their loans without having to live under a bridge eating Ramen noodles and pork and beans?

    Their was a time when states (and the Fed gov’t) supported higher education to the extent that a student was not forced to mortgage their next 25 years just to pay for it. My old man was able to work his way thru college (GI bill, had to pay for his food, housing, clothing etc) and graduate with out a penny of debt.

  35. James Pearce says:

    Just watched his announcement on CNN. It was almost all red meat for the base. I was expecting some kind of sop to the middle….but didn’t see it.

  36. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    is it too much to ask that graduates with a college degree should be able to pay off their loans without having to live under a bridge eating Ramen noodles and pork and beans?

    In some cases, yes, it’s too much to ask. If you can’t afford a private school, go to a state school. If you want to pursue a degree in Classics or Peruvian History, you’d better earn some serious merit scholarships or be independently wealthy. If you’re not, or you can’t, then go do something more lucrative. Then go back to school and groove on the Peruvian, once you’ve made some money.

    “A college degree” is not a job ticket — it’s a recognition of a certain level of demonstrated accomplishment and learning in a given field. It is not a promise of financial security, and never has been. If you want financial security, become a plumber or electrician or cable TV technician. It’s cheaper, and more to the point.

  37. elizajane says:

    The little marginal survey on this site assures me that 83% of respondents think that the “American educational system” is in need of reform.

    I wonder what people think the rest of the world is like.

    Our university system, which Scott Walker (and Marco Rubio) seem intent on handicapping, is the envy of the world. It’s why every lesser country from Singapore to Abu Dhabi wants an outpost of an American university rather than, say, a Russian or an Italian or even a German one. We are totally superior. The costs are a huge problem but ruining the system is not the answer.

  38. Dave D says:

    @DrDaveT: I went to a “cheap” state school in Wisconsin (UW- La Crosse) I worked full time third shift for 3 of the four years I went to school. That mostly paid for rent and food and some down on school. I graduated with over 30 grand in debt double majoring in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. I’m still paying off loans 6 years later and likely will be for a while. What lucrative field should I have gotten a degree in? Granted I received $0 dollars from my parents, but where did I go so wrong?
    Besides the exponential increase in tuition and the serious reduction of spending per student by the state. This crisis of student loan debt is not solely caused by people getting less than ideal degrees, this is a larger problem. Constant tax cuts reduce cash flows to states, university spending usually isn’t budget cut proof like k-12 funding or other social programs and becomes an easy cut to balance unbalanced budgets. It is why Walker cut 300 million from the UW system. Without more money coming into a state budget universities are the go to for budget cuts. Blaming Peruvian History majors for the college debt issue is like blaming welfare recipients for the national debt.

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If you can’t afford a private school, go to a state school.

    I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with things, but these days many state schools aren’t that much less expensive than a private school. The average full list four-year cost of a tuition, fees and expenses at UC Berkeley, for example, ranges around $120,000 — much more than it cost me to attend an Ivy League college a few decades ago.

    Out of state tuition at Berkeley in 2010 was approximately $31,000. Twenty years prior in 1990 it was approx. $7,500 — over a fourfold increase, far, far outpacing the rate of inflation.

  40. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: “If you want to pursue a degree in Classics or Peruvian History, you’d better earn some serious merit scholarships or be independently wealthy.”

    Because of course there is no value to society in having people who know anything about Classics or Peruvian History. All this country needs is stem, stem, stem, and damn those pansies who believe that the store of mankind’s knowledge about mankind should be preserved and increased. If you can’t make six figures right out of college with a degree, then that degree should be reserved for the independently wealthy, or it should just go away.

    Because really — what’s more important to our culture: Having a group of academics who can understand and teach anything deeper than a Wikipedia view of history, literature, art and philosophy, or turning out more young bankers to figure new games for the system and new programmers to invent new games for my phone?

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @wr:

    Because of course there is no value to society in having people who know anything about Classics or Peruvian History.

    Yes, that is exactly what I said. Not.

    Come on, you’re smarter than that. I said nothing at all about the value to society of anything. I made some factual comments about which degrees can reasonably be expected to pay for themselves and which can’t. Don’t blame me that studying Classics is currently a luxury.

    (And, for the record, I have an undergraduate degree and a graduate minor in Philosophy, to go with those STEM degrees…)

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    UC Berkeley, for example

    UC Berkeley is hardly a typical state school. What is in-state tuition at UC Davis, or Santa Barbara, or Irvine, or San Diego? Not to mention Riverside or Merced…

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Dave D:

    I graduated with over 30 grand in debt double majoring in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology. I’m still paying off loans 6 years later and likely will be for a while.

    So what’s the problem? Are you living on ramen noodles under a bridge? If you have a job that’s letting you pay down those loans while living reasonably, it sounds like you succeeded. Especially with no financial help from parents, and given the way the marketplace treats non-PhD (and even post-doc) bio and biochem talent.

    Having a steady job with prospects, and being able to pay off your debts, doesn’t look like failure to me. Failure is being $30k in debt with a degree in Mediaeval French History in hand and a job behind the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts.

  44. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: “Come on, you’re smarter than that. I said nothing at all about the value to society of anything. I made some factual comments about which degrees can reasonably be expected to pay for themselves and which can’t. Don’t blame me that studying Classics is currently a luxury.”

    And studying Classics is now a luxury when it was a viable options 20 years ago because way back then we as a society decided that it was worth devoting some tax dollars to making sure that the study of Classics remained possible for those without trust funds — we took tax dollars and funded universitites, so students could learn things like this and then later do research and pass the knowledge on to later generations. And now we’ve decided — or, rather, our Republican leaders have decided — that Classics should be a luxury and the only essential in our culture is that rich people don’t pay taxes.

    And if you claim that studying Classics is a luxury, then, yeah, you’ve said a lot about what you feel about the subject’s value to society.

  45. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: “UC Berkeley is hardly a typical state school. What is in-state tuition at UC Davis, or Santa Barbara, or Irvine, or San Diego? Not to mention Riverside or Merced…”

    There is a negligble difference of a few hundred dollars between Berkeley and Merced — Berkeley is around $13,800; Merced around $13,100.

    When I was a kid, in-state tuition to the UC schools was $650. Because tuition wasn’t expected to fund the university system — the state did that. Taxes did that.

  46. DrDaveT says:

    @wr:

    And now we’ve decided — or, rather, our Republican leaders have decided — that Classics should be a luxury and the only essential in our culture is that rich people don’t pay taxes.

    We agree completely about this, and that it is A Bad Thing. I’m having a hard time figuring out how you get from there to:

    And if you claim that studying Classics is a luxury, then, yeah, you’ve said a lot about what you feel about the subject’s value to society.

    YOU JUST AGREED that, currently, studying Classics is a luxury, thanks to stupid underfunding of education. Does that mean you also don’t value Classics? What’s different when you say it?

    Incidentally, I’m not convinced that studying Classics was especially viable 20 years ago either. A bright student could probably afford to get the degree, but there were still a negligible number of available jobs in the field, and they weren’t going to go to the state school grads. It might (or might not) have been easier for Classics grads to find general economy jobs back then, but those people were not going to go on to contribute much to either research or Classics education.

  47. DrDaveT says:

    @wr:

    There is a negligble difference of a few hundred dollars between Berkeley and Merced

    I stand corrected. In-state tuition and fees seem to be roughly the same across the UC system. Irvine seems to be more expensive than Berkeley, for some reason.

    California is something of an outlier here. The national average for public 4-year in-state annual tuition was around $9,100 last year. But, as I said, I concede that I was wrong about there being cheaper in-state options in California.