Jocks vs Nerds

One more reason not to vote Republican

This week's Economist has a fascinating article about a surprising tendency within the Bush administration, and the Republican party in general: Republicans are jocks.

I mean, it stands to reason they had to go somewhere, right? Growing up geek, it was the standard self-esteem building exercise to remember that when I grew up, the popular athletic kids who were currently kicking my ass across the hallway would be broke and unemployed, while my fellow nerds and I ran the world. But they can't all be failures. The "jocks and cheerleaders" subculture is just too strong in the USA to die when high school and college end.

So when jocks grow up, it turns out they turn Republican. A few examples, all lifted from the article itself:

  • George W Bush himself can bench press 185lbs 5 times in a row (I could never do that, not even at the height of my gym-going, and I'm not a 59 year old recovering alcoholic and drug addict)
  • George Bush senior took part in the 1947 and 1948 College World Athletic Championships
  • Donald Rumsfeld is a former Navy wrestling champion
  • Condoleeza Rice is a former competition-level ice skater
  • Margaret Spellings, the education secretary, is a weight-lifter
  • Alberto Gonzales, the attorney-general, plays golf and racquetball
  • Dennis Hastert, the house speaker, is a wrestling coach
  • Bill Frist is a marathon runner who takes his whole staff jogging
  • George Allen, a senator who hopes to become President one day, is another sports star
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is Republican

These are not obscure figures inside the party; they're big guns. Pretty much the only high-profile Republican in the Bush administration who's not a sports buff is Karl Rove, and we've all seen how well things are working out for Turd Blossom recently.

This is not just an interesting set of coincidences. This is a fundamental cultural aspect to the Republican party that has been overlooked. Jocks are the big strong guys at school. They get their way by force, they bully and shout, and they assign little value to intelligence and analysis, and those who respect such things, and are in fact often openly hostile to those people and their activities. Those attitudes translate pretty much directly into the observed foreign policy of the Bush administration: the country is being run by big, dumb, aggressive jocks who do not wish to be bothered with technical details.

And getting more jocks on board is definitely a priority. Bush asked Harvie Wilkinson, a potential supreme court nominee, how much he exercises -- what kind of relevance can that possibly have to the job of a judge? And Bush introduced his eventual choice as nominee, John Roberts, by mentioning that he was the captain of his high-school football team. Is it just me, or does that begin to shift things from being merely odd to terrifying?

The jocks grew up and have taken over, people. Geeks of the world need to unite, and get those idiots out of power.