I generally agree with John Tierney’s editorial and Tevi Troy’s comments about the lack of conservatives in academia. I do think many conservatives avoid academic careers either because they do not wish to keep their views closeted or because they do not feel they will be as successful as their politically liberal counterparts. However, one thing that John and Tevi both overlook is the value of mentorship.
Even as an untenured professor, I have been fairly open about my conservative views. After all, I was publishing Policy Analysis pieces for the Cato Institute as a graduate student and was writing for NRO as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard. An academic career certainly has its share of aggravations and there are no shortage of horror stories from the academy. However, one thing that I always remind smart young conservatives is that you do not need every school to admit you to their Ph.D. program or grant you tenure — you just need to find one school. There are also some great benefits. No matter where you end up, you will be offering your students something unique. Many will be responsive, and you will get the chance to mentor a great group of young people.
I have always felt that there is a real need for more conservatives and libertarians in the academy. Whenever I talk to a young person considering an academic career, I always end with the same bit of advice: “Run to the barricades and join us!”