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June 29, 2011

Honest Question, Seeking Answers

I've been wondering about this, but before I write a post postulating "This is what I think is going on," I thought I'd ask for input.

Because it doesn't matter to Andrew Breitbart what I say, after all. He skips to the comments.

Here's the question, with a preamble. There is a lot of anger at the Establishment, and, as a first matter then, at the idea of credentialism.

I've attacked the idea of credentialism myself. But I think there are two different strains of anti-credentialism, which I'll term Weak Form and Strong Form.

The Weak Form of the anti-credentialist impulse says that just because you have relevant training or experience, or some degree, doesn't necessarily mean anything. Perhaps you know what you're talking about. Perhaps you don't. But the credentials you carry are but most weak circumstantial evidence that you know what you're talking about.

The Strong Form of the anti-credentialist impulse says that typical credentials are not only not necessarily evidence of competency, but in fact positive evidence against competency. That is, where the Weak Form would say a credential is at most weak evidence you're the right sort of person for a task, the Strong Form would call it evidence, but in the opposite direction, that your credential makes it less likely that you are qualified for the task.

I'm curious about this because things I've generally considered good credentials for high executive office -- such as experience in high executive office on the state level -- seem to not only be largely diminshed in terms of relevancy, but almost taken as relevant in the wrong sort of way, that is, as affirmative evidence of the taint of corruption and Establishmentitis and the rest of it.

Is this the current tension in the Republican Party? Between Weak Form anti-credentialists and Strong Form anti-credentialists?

Note this implicates an almost exactly parallel argument about "elitism," as credentialism and elitism are inextricably intertwined.

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posted by Ace at 12:36 PM

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