In America's progressive heartland, a Senate race is defined by anti-intellectualismby James McAuley / November 4, 2012 / Leave a comment
Under no circumstances can the commonwealth of Massachusetts be considered a microcosm of the United States. It’s disproportionately affluent, around 40 per cent of the local population has completed a university degree and, unsurprisingly, Democrats control the state legislature. The Bay State, after all, isn’t just the province of Harvard, the Kennedys and the so-called “Boston Brahmins” one encounters in the novels of Henry James. It’s also the historic heart of American progressivism (or at least what’s left of it). The state was the centre of abolitionist fervor during the Civil War and was the first to legalise same-sex marriage in 2004. As George W Bush put it in a debate against John Kerry during the 2004 campaign: “Only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 per cent increase in funding for education was not enough.”
Even so, this year’s Senate race—between the Republican incumbent Scott Brown and his challenger, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren—has revealed a growing anti-intellectualism and, with it, a widening split among the electorate.