So You Think You Are Liberal, Conservative?

My senior year in  high school was an overload in terms of my exposure to politics. I was apart of the graduating class of 2009 which means I saw Barack Obama frequently and not just on the television. He was mentioned often in the classroom, teachers would encourage us to watch the news along with the debates (I preferred to watch Jon Stewart and Colbert) . They would ask how many of us were 18 by then and were going to vote. I remember my peers portraying this man as almost a prophetic figure on sites such as facebook and myspace. And indeed I knew that if I was 18 by the time November rolled around that year, he would be who I voted for. I thought I was political, but I was very wrong. The matter of the fact is, I completely shut out any consideration about what John McCain wanted for this country. I paid absolutely no attention to him. A very ignorant choice on my behalf (I was also 17). I was convinced in high school that I was a liberal even though I didn’t wholly understand what exactly it meant to be liberal. All I knew was that to be a liberal was to be progressive… right?

Lets clarify in the broad sense, what the Liberal school of thought believes in contrast to Conservatism.

Liberals believe in government action to achieve equality and equal opportunity for all. They believe it is the governments duty to alleviate social ills, protect civil liberties and individual/human rights. They believe that government is in charge of the overall welfare of the american people. It’s the governments job to solve problems.

Merriam-Webster definition for Liberalism here.

Conservatives believe in a free market, personal responsibility, limited government, individual liberty, traditional american values (or family values) and a strong national defense. One the biggest concerns conservatives have is the power of a growing government. In turn their policies emphasize the empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

Merriam-Webster definition of Conservatism here.

Couldn’t you see yourself holding beliefs from both of these categories? I think the reason why conservatism tends to have a bad rep with the nations young adults is the traditional american values concept. (You know, opposition to same sex marriage, legalized abortion or tax funded abortion, pornography, pre-marital sex.) And then there is the promotion religious traditions and values. And for us Millennials, religion just really is not “in” anymore.

And it is these traditional values that make people like Mitt Romney look like a total slime ball. This of course blindly leads people to completely dismiss Romney as a “backwards” politician.

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker of mine, Gordon. Gordon is an open homosexual. Gordon has also voted for Mitt Romney. When I heard this I was actually very surprised, what is it about Romney (who opposes same sex marriage) that Gordon believes in so much that he is willing to look past what I would call, a very important belief?

“Well, for me I can totally separate the issues. While it is true that on that particular issue Romney and I part ways, there are so many more issues (such as the economy, education, foreign policy, healthcare, etc.) that he and I agree on that I’m able to say: ‘Well , I don’t agree with Mitt on this one issue and I am in sync with this, this and that– and on the same token I agree with Obama on the one issue, but when it comes to this, that and that and the other, it’s night and day'”

“… In short, Mitt is my candidate except on gay marriage. And I trust that he’s going to be more focused on the economy than trying to bypass federalism and rem through a social agenda. That’s my hope at least.”

I think Gordon can serve as a great example of someone who pays attention to politics and         what the candidates stand for and does not let the media or other peoples biases form their opinion of who they are going to vote for.

I think I served as a good example of being narrow-minded. Likewise, I feel as if my peers are still fairly narrow-minded or just plain stubborn.

I encourage all of you to “school yourselves” and independently research the presidential candidates. Don’t just watch the mainstream media. And if you can, see if Obama has had a change of heart on anything.


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