There has been a great deal of buzz lately regarding Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum’s accusation that Obama is a “snob” for encouraging all Americans to pursue higher education. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. As a college student, I would not consider anyone who encourages higher education a snob. By the same token, I do not consider myself as any better than those who do not attend college. So these headlines caught my attention and I looked into what exactly happened here.
Apparently, in response to Obama’s desire for Americans to pursue higher education and go to college, Santorum called him a snob. On the campaign trail this past Saturday, Santorum said, "President Obama has said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob."
The media and Santorum critics have honed in on this quote, calling him a hypocrite for several reasons. First, he is a well-educated man with an undergraduate degree, an MBA, and a law degree. Second, in 2006 as Senator from Pennsylvania, he wanted to give everyone access to higher education in his state.
But this is not the whole story. After calling Obama a snob, he went on praise the men and women who work hard and are valued American citizens despite not having higher education. He clearly does not view these Americans as inadequate or unnecessary; on the contrary, he understands their value without a college degree students and It is his belief that everyone should have access to higher education but that going to college and getting a degree (2 or 4 year) is not the only post-high school option.
There is no denying that this was a poor choice of words that has clearly brought a great deal of negative press for Santorum. But it is important to point out that his accusation of Obama’s snobbery by no means implies that college students are snobs. Furthermore, his support of access to higher education is not hypocrisy; access is not compulsion, nor is it mandated. Santorum supports affordable and accessible universities for everyone who is interested as well as other options for those who are not.
I do not mean to come across as an avid Rick Santorum fan. That is not the case. I just want to provide some clarity and insight from my perspective of this highly publicized blunder on his part. Hopefully Santorum will take this "word to the wise" and watch what he says next time
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