“But will academia remain open to people like me and to the unique perspectives we bring?”
Robert Maranto is an academic who has been active in this field for years. He sees things shifting and fears that the political right is vanishing.
He writes at The Hill:
I’m a conservative. Is there still a place for me in the field of political science?
This week, thousands of social scientists are meeting in Los Angeles for the 119th annual American Political Science Association meeting. I’ve attended nearly every APSA since 1984, a third of its existence and most of my life. Seeing old friends, new books and countless panels exploring politics is the highlight of my year, even though I am one of the roughly 10 percent of political scientists — not all on the down-low — who usually vote Republican.
But will academia remain open to people like me and to the unique perspectives we bring? Until recently, I assured libertarians and conservatives that unlike much of academia, political science had a tent big enough for them. Today, as academia becomes as leftist as Rush Limbaugh always said we were, I am not so sure.
It was not always that way. As a first generation college student at the University of Maryland, I was mentored by a social democrat who in class occasionally needled me about my politics, but who also graded my papers fairly. He urged me to apply to the top-ten Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota and wrote a recommendation which helped me win a graduate fellowship there in 1980. Decades later, we still keep in touch…
These anecdotes above from my own career demonstrate the open-mindedness that once characterized my field. As political scientist Richard M. Merelman detailed in “Pluralism at Yale,” in the mid and late 20th century, the nation’s leading political science department enshrined pluralism rather than Marxism or traditionalism as the field’s dominant paradigm. Pluralists value disagreement — we don’t purge dissenters. By temperament, pluralists oppose both McCarthyism and Marxism.
Pluralists likewise endorse the scientific method — what Karl Popper called “conjectures and refutations” — even when hypothesis-testing undermines our beliefs. For pluralists, science requires disagreement, without which it loses both its legitimacy and its ability to ask novel questions.
Unfortunately, pluralism is fading. I fear that in my remaining years (I’m 65) no conservative scholar will ever lead APSA, even though as recently as the 1990s, James Q. Wilson and Nobel Prize-winning economist Eleanor Ostrom did so.
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