The Truman Scholarship has become an award for wokeness

What do Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams have in common? As undergraduate college students, each of them was a recipient of the prestigious Truman Scholarship, an award granted to public service-minded college juniors to help them move on to graduate school.

Since 1977, the award, named after President Harry Truman, has been granted to more than 3,000 students. But in recent years, the scholarship has tended to aid only one type of student: the performatively woke.

The Truman Foundation recently announced this year’s 62 winners of the up to $30,000 federally funded award, which, according to its bylaws, is supposed to be handed out on a nonpartisan basis. But this year, as in other recent years, the award has gone almost exclusively to students who are either progressive activists or partisan Democrats.

Political activism vs. public service

It seems that the Truman committee has difficulty separating political activism from public service. Of this year’s 62 winners, only one had ever worked for a conservative organization or politician, while six recipients had worked for Democratic politicians (Coons, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, etc.)

Further, of the remaining candidates, 37 list an overt progressive cause as one of their primary interests (reparations for Native Americans, feminism, abortion services, environmental “sustainability,” gun control and Black Lives Matters-related activism, to name a few) while zero winners listed an interest in a traditionally conservative cause.

President Harry Truman on Sept. 1, 1945, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: AP)

This is nothing new. For the past several years, The College Fix has been tracking the political ideologies of Truman winners, and it is clear the award has merely become a reward for left-wing activism. In 2018, for example, there wasn’t a single self-identified conservative or student who had worked for a Republican politician on the list of award recipients.

Over the past four years, 47.3% of the 245 Truman award winners have listed a progressive cause as one of his or her primary interests. These pet causes have included intersectionality, “climate justice,” expanded government-provided health insurance, LGBTQ issues, food insecurity, “anti-colonial advocacy” and “dismantling the prison industrial complex.” 

Corporations and wokeness: Corporations aren’t ‘woke,’ they just know their customers. Watch and learn, Republicans.

An additional 26.5% of the recipients have worked either for a Democratic candidate, officeholder or political organization. Winners have taken jobs or internships for luminaries such as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, or Democratic-aligned organizations like Tom Steyer’s NextGen America and Planned Parenthood. 

Of the 22.9% of the students whose politics are categorized as “unknown,” many of them are either students at service academies or involved in the physical sciences. For instance, one 2020 recipient spent her time at Oklahoma State University “co-developing a new wheat variety.” 

But over the past four years, only 3.3% of winners have worked either for a Republican politician or conservative-leaning organization.

The way students are nominated for award

While it is possible some of the students in the “unknown” category lean conservative, there appears to be a strong incentive to keep any right-leaning opinions quiet when applying for a scholarship. Progressive students are encouraged to flaunt their leftist bona fides, while Republicans choose to remain in the closet to better their odds.

Though the Truman Foundation has repeatedly told me they don’t ask for applicants’ political histories, it is clear which kind of résumés are rewarded. The foundation does have two elected Republicans on its board – retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rep. Kay Garner of Texas – but offices for both Blunt and Granger declined to answer questions I sent them about the Truman Scholarship process.

In fact, much of the blame also lies in the way students are nominated for the award. Each campus typically has an office responsible for choosing the students it will put forward, and heavily progressive campuses are naturally more likely to choose from among their own. Once the candidates make it to the foundation, the selection board has no choice but to choose from the pool it has been given.

Social media and celebrities: Left-wing celebrities who abuse social media and destroy people must be held accountable

Or, as the foundation’s director told me back in 2018, “The scholars we select are representative of the pool of applicants that are sent to us.”

But the recipients aren’t representative of the public at large. The program, first authorized by congressional action in 1975, has simply become a cash award for America’s most theatrically woke college juniors, pushing extreme issues that Harry Truman himself wouldn’t even recognize.

Christian Schneider, a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, is a senior reporter at The College Fix. Follow him on Twitter: @Schneider_CM

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

Source: Read Full Article