I admit to being prejudiced against political science majors. In fact, I cringe at the very phrase “poli sci”). I used to think of political science majors as parasites in training. If I had a son in college who wanted to major in political science, I would consider striking him from my will. Of course, if he majored in gender studies, I would disown him.
Admittedly, I never took a course in political science, but I’ve always had the impression that a political science professor was just a glorified political junkie. There are, of course, many other types of junkies (sports fans – you know who you are!), who rattle on endlessly about their obsessions and can’t understand people who don’t share their enthusiasm.
I always thought the “science” part of political science (why not Political Studies?) was to make it sound more respectable. Throw in enough data – no shortage of polls, local, statewide, national; primaries, runoffs, special elections, general elections – so the political science professor (let’s shorten that to polisciprof) has ample opportunity to showcase his lucubrations. Pre-election: what’s going to happen? Post-election: what happened? What about two years hence? Four years hence? Blather, rinse, repeat.
One such polisciprof is Calvin Jillson of Southern Methodist University (better known as SMU…don’t want that Methodist thing to creep out too many secular applicants) in Dallas. Until recently I’d never heard of Professor Jillson, though he appears to be something of a local media celeb in that blather-rinse-repeat cycle. He actually has a 15-page resume posted online. His bona fides are all in order.
Nevertheless, while perusing an article about a speech he made to a local Rotary Club, I came across an interesting quotation. He opined, rightly, that it was easy to get information on all the major candidates. But what about the down-ballot candidates? When you get to local judges, do you really know anything about them? Not much, unless you are employed in the legal profession and deal with them regularly. So how to vote when it comes to judges? Well, Jillson’s policy is “If you have no criteria on which to make a decision, because you don’t know either one, vote for the woman. Help even things out.”
Smooth move, prof; guaranteed to get applause and chuckles of delight from the audience. I’m sure the boys in the Rotary Club at least pretended to be amused, especially if women were present.
One little problem, prof: you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Dr. Jillson made his speech in Dallas County. Fact is if you get called for jury duty in one of the 30 courtrooms in Dallas County, your chances of landing in the courtroom of a female judge are better than even.
Let’s start with the civil courts. There are 13 such courts in Dallas County. According to the Dallas County web site, female judges preside over 8 of those courts (in fact, half the women are black, for those of you who care about such things).
Now let’s go to the criminal courts. There are 17 in Dallas County. Here the testosterone levels may be high among the defendants, but not on the bench. Only 4 of the judges are male. Again, for those of you keeping score, of the 13 females, 8 are black! One of the female judges is Asian, a real outlier, as Asian female is probably the least likely demographic to appear as a defendant in a criminal court.
As you can see, if you really want to “help even things out,” when in doubt, vote for the judicial candidate with a penis. Neither Jillson, nor any other polisciprof would ever exhort voters to do that, of course. Not if he wants to get invited back to the chat shows and lecture circuit.
Interesting to note that Jillson does not reside in Dallas County. According to his resume, he resides in Collin County, just north of Dallas County. This rapidly growing county has absorbed a lot of white flight from Dallas County, and is more affluent, so it must be more conservative, right? Perhaps Jillson was referring to Collin County when he invited voters “to even things out.” Well, it seems he neglected to do his homework for Collin County also.
Collin County has 13 courts. The breakdown of judges is 4 men, 9 women (sorry, all you identity politicians out there, but there are no pictures on the web site, so I can’t add anything as to the ethnicity of the judges, male or female).
Well, I’m not going to belabor the point. And I’m certainly not going to check all 254 counties in Texas. But advising voters to vote female to “even things out” in judicial races (or any other race) is simply asinine, no matter how long your resume. Then again, I’m no expert. As I said at the outset, I’ve never taken a political science class.
Polisciprof Jillson is an expert. Lots of local nabobs sing his praises. Expert status comes with lots of perks, but to me the ultimate perk is: No matter how often you’re wrong (naturally, he didn’t foresee the election of Trump), you’re still an expert.
Nice work if you can find it.