Phi Beta Cons

A True Legislative Loss

Among the victims of the bloodletting in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary was a promising young Republican legislator and Marine Corps veteran, Gib Armstrong. Unlike most of the losers, Armstrong was no hack. Quite the contrary, he was responsible, almost single-handedly, for getting Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives to launch an inquiry into the politicization of the state’s public university system, which, through his persistent and perceptive questioning, developed some real traction. As a rule, Republican legislators aren’t notable for their grasp of higher education’s cultural damage. Armstrong was a sterling exception and courageously made it an issue. In the course of so doing he acquired many enemies in the higher education establishment and was the subject of a particularly unflattering profile in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education.
Be on the lookout, higher education’s apologists will try to spin his defeat as a repudiation of the hearings, and of criticism of political correctness in general. It was nothing of the kind. Armstrong had the misfortune of being caught up in a statewide voter backlash against a legislative pay raise–the university inquiry invisible during his campaign.
Of course, if the voters had given Armstrong the credit his efforts deserved the outcome would have been different. Let’s hope he soon returns to public life.       

Stephen H. Balch — Stephen H. Balch was founding president of the National Association of Scholars and currently serves as director of the Texas Tech Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

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