The Corner

Re: Conservatives in the Closet


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.

Academic training is almost like an apprenticeship. To be a successful academic, one typically has to develop at least two good mentor/mentee relationships — one as an undergraduate and one as a graduate student. A conservative student may be less willing to seek out a liberal professor as a mentor. Similarly, a politically liberal professor may not be inclined to invest time in a student with conservative views.

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!”

— Michael New is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.

Michael J. New — Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C. He received a ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More