I’ve been a conservative all of my life. From the day I began studying the vast and unchartered characteristics of American politics I gravitated toward the Republican platform just as many Americans naturally gravitate towards the Democratic party. Many times I am asked the question of why I am a conservative, as if being a conservative is a foreign concept that somehow requires an elaborate justification into my political beliefs. Whereas liberalism is assumed to be a natural course of political thought that is less challenged by the mass media, and the country in general. I always reply with the same simple answer. I am a conservative because I believe in conserving the things that make America unique. I believe in the principles put forth in the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence and hold true to the fact that because they are the most brilliant political documents in the history of the world America is the greatest country on earth.
In the midst of what will go down in history as the most divisive election in American history, it is hard to ignore both parties defining characteristics. The honest truth is in today’s America it is much harder to be a conservative than it is to be a liberal. Lets face it, America is a secular society, much like the rest of the world. This presents new challenges for conservatives almost daily. Like liberals, conservatives are your average working Americans that come from all different walks of life, races, and genders. Now I know what you’re thinking, “the Republican party is just a bunch of old rich white guys.” That thought may have been largely true in the early twentieth century, but America has changed drastically since then. After all, it was the Republican Party that had an African American neurosurgeon, a female businesswoman, an Indian American, and two Hispanic American men running for President in 2016. The argument that the Republican Party isn’t diverse doesn’t hold up in 2016. In contrast, the two major Democratic Party candidates were both white, and over the age of 65. Nevertheless, the media paints the Republican party as the party of rich, old white people.
So what does all of this boil down to? A few basic premises define the Republican Party and the Democratic Party very clearly. There are elements of the conservative platform and thought process that are constantly questioned by liberals. So much so that the fallacies in the Democratic platform are largely overlooked. (Big government) The first thing I would like to address as the first smoking gun in liberal’s views of conservatives is name calling. I’m not here to justify name calling from individuals in my own party. Name calling detracts from true discussion of the real issues in politics, and both parties are equally guilty. What I would like to specifically address first, is the habit of many Republicans being labeled as “closed minded bigots, homophobes, xenophobes, sexists, rednecks” and most prominently “racists.” Liberals simply cannot seem to wrap their minds around the thoughts of a level minded Republican opposing a policy without inherently being one of those things I just mentioned. Therefore, my initial reaction is, because I support law enforcement does that mean I am an evil, hatemongering racist that seeks out to destroy people of color? Because I support a religious liberty laws am I an appalling homophobic bigot that makes it a purpose to discriminate against gay people? No, it is absolutely absurd to smear and paint an entire group of people based on the despicable actions and words of a few extremists. As a conservative, I don’t make it a priority to label someone that disagrees with me. Instead I try to find common ground. Where do we agree on things? One of the major things liberals and conservatives must come to terms with is that while we disagree on many issues, we still want to see America succeed. We simply have different paths to getting there, which is in part what makes us such a great country.
Another thing liberals just can’t understand about conservatives is that conservatives don’t seek out to silence those that disagree with us. I always try to create substantive discussion with those that disagree with me as well as keeping the conversation light. Take for example, many African Americans that are Republicans. Many liberal pundits are quick to discredit them as delusional. How dare one branch out into another thought process? In a broader sense, liberals struggle with the concept of accepting other approaches to issues and moving forward without calling Republicans names or accusing them of actively taking part in an evil plot to destroy a group. This fuels the idea that liberals welcome diversity, so long as those that are diverse adhere and agree with the key liberal principles of the far left. If those that are diverse do not accept the liberal philosophy, they must be delusional. Liberals should understand that differing views do not immediately deem an individual as a defining label. If liberals were truly “open minded” and “tolerant”, they wouldn’t instantly attack those who disagree with them.
Lastly I would like to examine a concept that is a trigger of emotion for liberals and conservatives alike. Love it or loathe it, it has never been more discussed until one of the far left Senators from the Northeast brought it to the forefront. Naturally the concept I am speaking of, is socialism. I speculate many moderate Democrats will agree with me on this one. Bernie Sanders, as grandfatherly as he is, should understand that socialism will never work in America. If things in socialist Sweden were so great, why don’t they have an immigration problem like America? My larger point is, just because I oppose socialism doesn’t mean I am greedy. We can talk about inequality all we want but at the end of the day inequality is all around us in nature. Dr. Lawrence Reed explains this in his book Excuse me, Professor. Challenging the myths of Progressivism that inequality is everywhere. In his book he speaks of Bill Gates, for example. “While Bill Gates may eat better food, have a private jet, and have nicer clothes than us that don’t is he really anymore superior than any of us?” The main difference liberals who ascribe to Senator Sanders thought process should think of the world from a different angle. For example, a socialist will see an elaborate, luxurious mansion and think “No one should live like that.” While a capitalist sees the same mansion and thinks “Everyone should have the opportunity to live like this.” Liberals should lastly understand that just because a conservative opposes socialism does not mean he or she is greedy and an ardent supporter of big banks or corporate giants.
At the end of the day, liberalism and conservatism balance each other out. The two philosophies are in place to constantly challenge one another to strengthen their respective arguments. As a conservative, I’m not here to tarnish liberals. I disagree entirely with many on the far left from an ethical and moral stance, but that shouldn’t prevent us all from engaging in ever-changing dialogue. While we have many differences of opinion, we should first and foremost respectfully disagree in a civil manner. Without respect for one another we lose all dignity for our argument. I think it is also important for liberals and conservatives to have a sense of humor. To keep each other in check so to speak. The next time your liberal friend asks you if you got their email, you might reply by saying “I’m not sure I’ll have to check my private email server to see if I had it deleted or not.” To be fair, the next time your conservative friend asks you if you’d like a skittle, reply by saying “No I believe in building an incredible, big, beautiful yuuuge wall around skittles that Mars Candy Inc. WILL pay for. (Believe me, I guarantee it.)” Without a sense of humor, you lose the light tone sometimes needed for hot button issues. This helps keep both points of view in check, and relevant. I can think of no better way to conclude than by echoing President Reagan’s words, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that just aren’t so.”
Joseph Duncan is a Claiborne County native and a student at Lincoln Memorial University.