The next right-wing populist will win by attacking American higher education

The universities, the Right has long insisted, have abandoned the West. The canon wars of the 1980s and 1990s, during which core curricula and Western-civilization programs were dismissed as “ethnocentric,” only solidified this impression.

Since then, every conservative publication worth its salt has raced to expose the latest campus outrage. In the Internet era, whole websites have sprouted up to document protests and speech codes, delusions and demands. Fox News devotes valuable coverage to university issues; Tucker Carlson grills campus protesters live on national television. The drama at Middlebury over Charles Murray became a national controversy. More outrages are sure to follow.

It’s not hard to see the breaking point of these campus wars on the horizon: the first time a politician dares to make higher-education into a national campaign issue. Before Trump, the media’s “anti-intellectual” label might have scared politicians, but it doesn’t any longer. Trump’s assault on the media has irreparably damaged its credibility, reducing its claims of expertise and knowledge to fodder for right-wing voters’ laughter.