In just a couple months, I plan on doing something Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker never did: graduate from Marquette University.
But Walker still has more accomplishments: like becoming a state legislator, a county executive in liberal Milwaukee County, being elected and reelected governor, and of course being the only governor to survive a recall in the United States. And also taking on powerful unions in Wisconsin, becoming a model for other conservative governors across the state.
I may soon be a degree up on him, but I’ll give him the edge in terms of accomplishments. That’s why the discussion over Walker’s lack of a college degree should be irrelevant. Walker left Marquette with one semester remaining for reasons not totally understood, but he took a job with IBM right away before pursuing a political career. There are reasons I’d question his qualifications for the White House – including an aggressive foreign policy and flip-flopping on immigration – but not finishing college isn’t one of them, as much as the media would like to say it is. It isn’t as if Walker dropped out of college to become a barista – he’s a successful governor and a successful county executive before that. And that’s how Walker should frame the discussion when this questions arises.
About 16.8 percent of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” which is about a 7-percent increase from 2007. An additional 8.5 percent are unemployed, a 3-percent increase from 2007. January 2014 reports by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also found that roughly 44 percent of recent college graduates (aged 22-27) with a B.A. or higher were not working a job that technically demanded a bachelor’s degree.
Walker’s good friend Rep. Paul Ryan notably said at the 2012 Republican National Convention that “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” But statistically, they are. Walker and other conservative candidates in 2016 should try to tell this demographic how they are going to change that. Increasingly, in part because of the president’s economic failures and a potentially growing higher education bubble, many could begin to question whether or not the cost of a college degree is even worth it. The price of college has increased 1,120 percent since 1978, so skeptism in that value is going to exist. A president who could restore confidence for youngr folk entering into an uncertain and changing economy is necessary, but it isn’t clear whether Walker – who is challenged repeatedly on his lack of a college degree despite being living evidence that it doesn’t matter – is that person, even though the media keeps serving up opportunities for him to do so.
The extremely early election season has bred a lot of dumb questions toward potential Republican candidates, in particular Walker. “Do you believe in evolution? Is Obama a Christian?” You know, those critical questions that certainly will be thrown at potential Democratic candidates as well. Just like it would be easy to do with the college question, conservatives should throw the question back. Say it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in evolution because you won’t be legislating thought – science or creation – from the White House. Say you don’t know or worry about the president’s faith because Christian or not, his policies are bad. Sure, the mainstream media gives Republicans a lot of lousy questions, but conservatives are equally as bad at handling them. Instead of complaining about the media asking insignificant questions, conservatives need to turn them around and use them to promote ideas of individual and economic freedom. Walker didn’t finish college, but right now college isn’t working thanks to the big government establishment of both parties.
That’s a good answer, and I don’t just know that because pretty soon I’m going to have a college degree.