« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - The unusual graduate

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   He wasn’t a traditional college student. He'd left school many years ago, started his career, got married, started a family and had generally been a success. But he’d always regretted not finishing his degree. He decided to take some classes at night and others on-line. He wrote term papers and studied on the weekend. And now, surrounded by a group of other students in their 20s, he'd attending graduation.

As he accepted his diploma, he said “As I’ve gotten older, I regretted not finishing my college education more and more. And even though I’ve been successful in life, finishing something I’d started is important to me. Completing my degree sends the right message to my children, and it’s an example to others who might also think about going back to school.

That person should be Scott Walker.

He should find the time to complete his college degree.

Personally, I don’t think Scott Walker will ever be president without his diploma. If Walker hypothetically ran against Barack Obama, the media would constantly remind us which candidate graduated from Harvard and which candidate dropped out. We expect our leaders to be college-educated. And, while this has nothing to do with Walker’s intelligence, we stamp people as educated when they earn a degree. This would remove a political liability. Managing ones political liabilities is the art of politics. And this is something that’s entirely within the Governor’s control.

I’m sure there’s a little bit of impracticality to my idea. The governor walking into a college classroom would be unusual – perhaps a distraction. He might also be made fun off… being lectured by liberal professors or giving bragging rights to other students who did better than him in class. So what. Every adult who goes back to college faces those issues. On-line courses might be more practical. His more-partisan opponents might even speculate about whether Walker actually did the work, or had someone do it for him. They’d look small and petty… he’d look big.

But most importantly, if the Governor goes back to school he’ll be turning a political negative into a positive. It’s inspiring when someone looks back on their youth, finds something that’s been left un-done in their life, and changes it. It would give Scott Walker new authority when he speaks about the value of education and creating an opportunity society. He’ll have walked the walk when he says, “I finished my degree. You can, too.” He’d be a better person for it, and he’d also be a better candidate.

Chris Conley

Image:  College graduation, by Tulane Public Relations (Graduates Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons