“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
The above is a quote from one of my favorite authors, Isaac Asimov, and I believe it helps to illustrate at least part of the reason Republicans have decided to target college students in their war on voting. While there are both racial and ageist reasons as well, as the young and minorities tend to vote Democrat, we would be ill-advised to ignore the ramifications of anti-intellectualism permeating this issue.
I've explored some of these issues in the past, so I won't rehash a lot of the psychological drivers behind anti-intellectualism, other than to note that this phenomenon is not limited to only those who lack learning. It goes much deeper, into the core of the individual's sense of self and status. And no number of framed degrees on the wall can alter that.
Many of the more notable anti-intellectuals we see lashing out on social media appear to be acting like an 8th grader, and that may be more accurate than you think. During puberty, both sexes go through an involuntary anti-intellectual phase when their reproductive and hormonal systems kick into high gear. For at least a few years anyway, primal urges take over and the intellectual pursuits must take a back seat. It's how we're wired. But by the late teens, most of those impulses are under control. For some people, anyway. Others will continue these strutting and antagonistic behaviors until a relieved family finally puts them into the ground.
But a much wider group of anti-intellectuals actually fear the influence of knowledge; that it has the power to determine their destiny, and they are virtually helpless to chart their own course in the face of it. Nevermind the fact that knowledge has provided them with a quality of life never before experienced on the face of the Earth, and nevermind the fact that they have been provided more choices than ever before. That's intellectual talk, and it should be ignored.
And there is another group, which is likely comprised of elements from both of the above groups, whose anti-intellectualism stems from their desire to take control of the situation via political means, and reform society into something they are comfortable with. They don't want an intelligent population, because that's just too difficult to control. And they don't want intelligent voters, because they're too difficult to fool. They see right through even the most crafty bullshit, which brings us back around to the student voters.
Even GOP college students are intellectuals. A high percentage are Libertarians, and while I might disagree with most of their positions, they thrive on intellectual arguments. If you get the urge to argue with one of them, you might want to go ahead and pack a lunch, because it's going to be a marathon. If you'll notice, mainstream Republicans have started to push back at Libertarian intellectualism, and I predict it will get very ugly before it's over.
But Democratic college students are the worst. They're so used to deeply researching issues before they write about them, not to mention defending those positions vehemently, most of them simply can't walk into a voting booth and randomly pull a lever. They go in there with a purpose, and the vast majority of those purposes are sound, well-reasoned and would likely benefit society if put in action.
And that last part, even more so than political party desires, is why Republicans will do everything in their power to stifle these students from voting. And it's also why we must stand up for them. It's our future, too.