So on Facebook this morning I posted a rant about Jeb(!) Bush(!)’s latest gaffe, in which he said, in a Town Hall on Saturday in South Carolina:
“Universities ought to have skin in the game,” the former Florida governor said at a South Carolina town hall with Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy. “When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'”
“The number one degree program for students in this country … is psychology,” Bush said. “I don’t think we should dictate majors. But I just don’t think people are getting jobs as psych majors. We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.”
There is so much to unpack here, it’s insane.
Understandably, a LOT of people were upset about this bullshit he spouted, myself included. My initial anger was due to the insult aimed at psychology majors in particular. I feel very strongly about this, because:
A.) I know many psych majors who have gone on to land important, wonderful, and even high-paying(!) jobs, from medicine, to HR, to clinical psychology and research, to labor work, to writing…the list goes on. To imply that psych majors have no career options is just wrong and shows that he doesn’t know what the ever-loving fuck he’s talking about.
B.) Dismissing psychology as a valid field of study is dangerous. People who struggle with mental illness have to overcome enough stigma and red tape to seek psychological assistance (therapy, etc.) as it is, and for a major political figure to imply that this is an unimportant area of study doesn’t help matters.
C.) On a personal note, psychology saved my life. My therapist (who, yeah, has a job! It’s therapy! He gets paid and everything!), one of those lowly psych majors, helped me out of a major depression and suicidal episode earlier this year and continues to help me. His is an essential profession, so to hear a major candidate say something that might dissuade others with an interest from pursuing it…well, it rubs me the wrong way.
As I re-read Jeb(!)’s comments in a later moment of relative calmness, however, I was struck by something – I agree with one of the statements he made! I KNOW, RIGHT? I’m all #FEELTHEBERN and #HILLARYROCKS and #OMALLEY…EXISTS but I agreed with a statement Jeb(!) Bush, of the Bushy McBushes, made. Here it is:
“We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.” (implying, of course, that students should pursue these fields)
Jeb(!) is right! There are millions of jobs opening up in the trades! These jobs can be well-paying and are essential to the American economy and our everyday lives! People should consider these jobs!
We also have a teacher shortage! Teachers play an essential role in American life and the economy! More people should be teachers!
SO WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT?* THAT IS A GOOD THING! JUST SAY THAT! COME ON!
Why, Jeb(!) do you have to insult psychology majors (and, for that matter, philosophy and other liberal arts majors) to make that point?
Why, Jeb(!), do you have to insult the dignity of food service workers (he makes working at Chick-Fil-A sound like the worst possible fate a human being could have**) to make that point?
If you are trying to encourage young people to follow certain career paths, Jeb(!), why not just extoll the benefits of those paths instead of insulting others? Why engage in negativity when positivity will get the same point across?
The answer to this for Jeb(!) personally is, I’m sure, complicated, and, ironically, would necessitate an in-depth examination of his psyche and how his upbringing in a rich, entitled family which has already produced two US Presidents affects his worldview. But in general, I believe that Jeb(!) and other politicians engage in negativity politics because they believe it wins elections, and it’s become their default setting, even when trying to make a simple point encouraging young people to study the trades at a town hall. Get that insult in, these politician’s aides constantly say to them in greenrooms and hotel suites and on tour buses, and people will start paying attention! That’s what will get you the votes!
The good news for normal people is this hasn’t held true for the last two US presidential elections. Say what you will about Obama, but he didn’t win in ’08 by denigrating college students and women and fast food workers – he won because his primary message was one of hope (again, whether or not you agree he has delivered on that is an entirely different post). And in 2012, Romney guaranteed his loss the minute he called 47% of the country moochers. The lesson? LOOKING DOWN ON REGULAR PEOPLE DOES NOT WIN NATIONAL ELECTIONS ANYMORE, GUYS! WE HAVE TWITTER NOW! WE WATCH JOHN OLIVER! WE WILL KNOW IF YOU SAY MEXICANS ARE RAPISTS, AND EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE LOTS OF RACISTS IN THE US THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH OF THEM TO KEEP YOU AT THE TOP OF THE POLLS!
I would love to see a day when politics (on both sides of the aisle, the GOP is not alone in this) leaves petty negativity entirely behind. We’re not there yet, and who knows if we ever will be, but I do know that, after some blinding rage this morning, I’m feeling a little more mellow and sympathetic towards Jeb(!), who just doesn’t get that his politics of negativity is only going to bite him in the ass! He’s so oblivious, it’s almost sad.
If only he’d taken a psychology course, you know? 😉
*To be fair, the reason he won’t say that is because he actually has no actual interest in helping anyone get any job through educational assistance and training in the trades or any other field. He’s not been super great for education or teachers. He mostly doesn’t care.
**Of course, no one, including Jeb(!), would feel like they could insult food service workers if they were paid a living minimum wage, but Jeb(!) would prefer to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether, so…yeah.