Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is this the End of Anti-Intellectualism in American Politics?

Since Hofstadter's 1963 book Anti-Intellectualism in America came out, there has been at least an awareness of a trend in the United States that could be thought of a Counter-Enlightenment.

The election of Obama may finally be the end of this counter-Enlightenment. Nick Kristof describes Obama as "an open, out-of-the-closet,practicing intellectual" in contrast to the folksy rhetoric of President Clinton and the current regime which has rejected science when dealing with issues such as abortion and global warming.

This is the first time in recent history that a candidate has tried to campaign fervently on ideas rather than personality.

Kristof continues:

At least since Adlai Stevenson’s campaigns for the presidency in the 1950s, it’s been a disadvantage in American politics to seem too learned. Thoughtfulness is portrayed as wimpishness, and careful deliberation is for sissies. The social critic William Burroughs once bluntly declared that “intellectuals are deviants in the U.S.”

We can finally be proud to have a president who has, as Christopher Lydon notes in this conversation, "a favorite poet and philosopher" and is not afraid to admit it.

Is this the end of anti-intellectualism in the United States? Will the geek inherit the earth?

Let your big brains show and let us know if you think it's cool to be smart.

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