Originally published 04/01/2013
Chris Beneke is an associate professor of history at Bentley University, and Randall Stephens is a reader in history at Northumbria University, in England.After its bruising defeat in the 2012 presidential contest, the Republican Party finds itself at a crossroads. The Grand Old Party's support has eroded precipitously among white women, Latinos, and nearly all voters younger than Clint Eastwood.But the demographic shift isn't the party's only problem. Embarrassed by election-forecasting blunders and awkward clashes with basic science, the Republican Party has solidified its standing—to quote the chairman of the Republican Governors Association—as "the stupid party." When the former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum proclaimed that "we will never have the elite, smart people on our side," he expressed a widespread sentiment.A lot of the "smart people" to whom Santorum was referring, however, belong to institutions suffering from their own demographic troubles and reputations for intellectual narrowness. We mean, of course, America's colleges. A winter of discontent has also settled upon their green quadrangles as the realization dawns that the number of affluent families with high-school-age children is shrinking and that net tuition may be peaking....
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