Movement Conservatives made Reagan’s anti-intellectualism an article of faith. Although George W. Bush held degrees from both Yale and Harvard, his supporters portrayed him as an outsider from Texas, cutting brush on his newly purchased Texas ranch. Movement Conservative personalities increasingly made whipping boys of members of the “liberal academy,” with hosts like Rush Limbaugh claiming that leftists professors were conditioning people to accept collectivism by “taking hold of the education system, the university, academia system.” Gradually, Buckley’s premise took hold: that universities were, by definition, not places where scholars who believed in a wide range of roles for the federal government in society taught their research. Universities were nests of socialists.
Walker’s Act 10 for higher education is not just about tenure. Its attack on the university that gave birth to the original Wisconsin Experiment is the logical outcome of eighty years of maligning universities as hotbeds of socialism in an attempt to undercut workers’ influence in government. It is a decisive power play in the struggle over the nature of the American government. Should workers have political power, or should a few rich men alone determine government policies? Walker’s stand is clear. He has long worked in lockstep with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, through which corporations write legislation that goes to legislatures for approval. He is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have indicated they would like to see him in the White House.