One of the perks of being a high-ranking politician in our modern age, especially that of a Senator or Governor, is the work available to you after you finish: Non-profit organizations, corporations, universities, and other large organizations will want you somewhere near the top of their food chain, be it as the head or as member of the Board that manages the organization. It is a fine sinecure to acquire. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels cashed in on this perk by becoming the President of the Purdue University system, one of Indiana's two public university systems (the other being Indiana University), in January of this year. When he joined, he pledged to promote academic freedom in the universities.
However, emails recently uncovered by the AP through a FOIA request suggest an agenda in opposition to that pledge. These emails, written while Mitch Daniels was governor, indicate that he wished to "clean up" the college courses at both IU and Purdue campuses of what he claimed to be "liberal propaganda." In particular, he targeted Howard Zinn's book, "A People's History of the United States." When told that the universities used the book in civil rights, labor, and feminist courses, Daniels responded in an email saying "This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state." Notably funny in all this is not only that Zinn was more a left-wing socialist than a liberal, but also the fact that despite Daniels' belief from reading Zinn's obituaries that it was a "textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country," "A People's History of the United States" never yielded much influence in modern political discourse, even among the liberal elite. When an adviser suggested a review of university courses in the IU and Purdue systems, then-Governor Daniels signed off on it, adding to "Disqualify propaganda."
Mitch Daniels' course of action is unsurprising to those that pay attention in higher education. A long-running conspiracy theory among conservatives is that colleges and universities not only lack a significant discourse in conservative thinking, but actively attempt to suppress it and promote a left-wing agenda. The grounds of which this occurs is relatively shaky, and may be more due to the fact that the nature of colleges and universities tend to be isolated from communities at large, and that the institution of higher education is probably the only remaining place where left-wing, especially Marxist, thinking such as Howard Zinn's is still discussed without any stigmas attached to it. Given that Daniels attempted to use his position to discredit and remove funding from a professor that was critical on his education policy, his actions represent more political grandstanding and credentials-invoking than reasonable policy.