Will it make any difference who is elected president? The choice is between incumbent with a Harvard degree and a challenger with two Harvard degrees. Regardless of the outcome, we can not return to those halcyon days of the plebeian presidency.
In the 60s we elected Harvard grad John Kennedy. However, he was preceded by a West Pointer and succeeded by graduates of Southwest Texas State Teachers College, Whittier College, Michigan, Annapolis, and Eureka College. The U.S. President held a Harvard degree for less than 5 percent of the time from 1945 to 2000.
Now, a Harvard degree appears mandatory. We are assured of at least 16 straight years of a Harvard educated president.
How have the Harvard performed in providing peace and prosperity?
During the Harvard Period (2001-2012) the annual growth in GDP was an anemic 1.6 percent. In the plebeian Period it was 3.2 percent. Inflation adjusted median family income rose by 1.1 percent under the Plebeians but fell by 0.7 percent annually under the Harvards.
The Plebeians gave us peace most of the time. The Harvards were at war almost continually.
But surely the Harvards improved our culture. Well maybe not? The best-selling book of the plebeian Period was the Catcher in the Rye while MASH was the most popular TV show. The Harvards answered with The DaVinci Code and Survivor.
The best selling pop artists under the Plebeians were the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. The Harvards boasted 'NSYNC, Usher and 50 Cent.
Social cohesion? Children born out-of-wedlock, divorce rate and single parent families have all increased during the Harvard period.
What explains the Harvard effect? Probably intellectual brilliance. Harvard types surround themselves with brainy academics.
When Lyndon Johnson was rhapsodizing about the brilliance of Jack Kennedy's Cabinet with all their Ivy League pedigrees, Sam Rayburn remarked, "I just wish one of them had ever run for sheriff, Lyndon."
Instead of Sheriff candidates, Kennedy got the Bundy brothers, Dean Rusk, and the Vietnam War. George W. Bush chose Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams and the second Iraq War. Obama relied on Larry Summers to fix the economy.
So why do we continue to elect the Harvards? Maybe to make ourselves feel better by demonstrating that the Harvards cannot do better, and often do worse, than anyone else. This does wonders for our individual self-esteem, and during this period of national decline, we need all the self-esteem we can get.