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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who has been outspoken on U.S. economic matters and is known for breaking up labor unions in his home state has been turning heads in both parties as he’s gained momentum as a possible GOP contender for the presidential nomination in 2016.
Walker’s critics, Democratic and Republican alike, have already begun their smear campaigns against him. Their point of focus: his lack of a college degree.
Howard Dean, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, appeared on cable news channel MSNBC’s talk show Morning Joe late last month and said Walker was unfit for office because he didn’t continue his college education past his junior year.
“I worry about people being president of the United States not knowing much about the world and not knowing much about science,” Dean said.
What Dean and many of Walker’s critics who share similar viewpoints fail to acknowledge is that the man became the governor of a state and enjoyed a fairly high approval rating without the help of a diploma. This fact, combined with his age shows he clearly has more insight into life and government than many college juniors.
Traditionally, while most recent presidents have had degrees, their successes and failures in smaller political arenas are what make or break their presidential campaigns and administrations.
Walker’s beginnings further illustrate that not everyone needs a college diploma to be successful. Upon leaving Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, accepted a job with American car manufacturer IBM. After success there, he took a marketing position at the American Red Cross. He worked his way into politics at the age of 23, winning a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and became governor 17 years later in 2010.
In some ways, his lack of a college degree makes him more successful. He’s competed in the job market and the world of politics at a disadvantage, and he has still managed to rise to prominence. Further, it shows a resolve and a confidence on his part that his record speaks for itself.
The American people should not fear a potential leader who lacks a degree. In fact, those who would criticize Walker have an out-of-touch, elitist mentality. Less than 30 percent of American adults have a bachelor’s degree. It’s insulting to the other 70 percent to say that someone with a background similar to theirs is unfit for service to his or her country based simply on their educational level.
Is life experience completely valueless? Even within the halls of academia, real-world learning is essential. Internships, student teaching and observation hours play vital roles in the education process.
If Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had believed the lie that they needed diplomas to revolutionize the sphere of modern technology with innovative ideas that lead to the creation of Microsoft and Apple, think of the ingenuity the human race would have missed.
Many would be surprised by the list of renowned Americans who never finished college. Abraham Lincoln was mostly self-taught after he learned to read, and Walt Disney did not receive formal education after the age of 16. If primary education, one’s natural talents and life experience have given a person the foundation to achieve greatness in life, who are the critics to judge?