America is not the only country reeling from the election of a tyrannical protofascist to the highest office in the land. Around the world, the general consensus has been, “America, what have you done?!” Of course, it’s important to point out that several other countries have also been swinging right lately, and that, both here in America and across the pond, a common thread among those voting against their best interest is a university education. Or, rather, a lack thereof.
Brexit And Hofer And Trump, Oh My!
In the United States, education was the most likely predictor of a pro-Trump vote. Nate Silver laid it all out in detail here, where he shows how he pulled loads of data showing that a university education was key to a Clinton vote.
In the United Kingdom, there are similarities. Newsweek reported:
“In Britain’s Brexit vote, support for the ‘leave’ campaign was 30 percent higher among those with GCSE-level education or lower, a Joseph Rowntree Foundation survey found.”
And another comparison made in Newsweek:
“In Austria’s presidential election in May (set to be re-run in December), university-educated voters chose the green-backed candidate Alexander Van der Bellen by a 91 percent to 19 percent margin, while the lower-skilled chose far-right Norbert Hofer by 86 percent to 14 percent.”
It’s important to note that it’s not intelligence they’re talking about there. It’s education.
Newsweek also mentions that the people who tend to support the hard-right parties in France and Germany share the same commonality — a lack of higher education.
Of course, the only people who benefit from authoritarianism are those in power. However, it’s possible that less-educated people cling to authoritarian ideals in leaders because they feel it gives them some semblance of power over “the other,” even if it means their own rights are diminished. And in European countries, the far-right candidates are doing what Trump did — they’re capitalizing on fear.
The important takeaway here is not to assume that all conservatives are “stupid,” because they’re not.
It’s simply to point out that a lack of education seems to point to a preference for right-wing, authoritarian ideas, and that such a preference is common around the world. And THAT means that progressive politicians need to find a way to reach these voters.