Conservatives are people, too


photo by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Image courtesy of the Nevada Policy Research Institute

It’s no secret that the liberal Democrat population of our school is pretty vocal about their beliefs. When GOP candidate Donald Trump came to UCF’s CFE Arena on Mar. 5, Twitter was swarmed with photos of students protesters outside the rally. Bernie Sanders 2016 merchandise peppers the campus, along with impassioned discussions on abortion rights, the Black Lives Matter movement and drug legalization.

The thing is, I fear the word “discussion” has become a misnomer.

Based on what I’ve gathered from my three best friends (who also happen to be Republicans), there is a certain unacknowledged code of silence among conservatives at this school. They know that if they were to share their opinions, they will be shut down by political zealots and disregarded as sexist, racist, elitist scum. There is always the fear that their next participation in a political discussion will result in a tumble off of the social ladder.

This. Is. Backwards.

A disclaimer: I’m the biggest Bernie-supporting, individual rights-crusading, leftist gal in the game. I disagree with the opposing party just as much as any other liberal. This doesn’t mean I enjoy seeing the people I love bullied and belittled for their political ideals.

There is an undeniable degree of hypocrisy in regard to modern liberalism, considering the fact that a core Democratic principle is allowing everyone a voice. The assumption that Republican conservatives have nothing meaningful to add to the conversation by those who value diversity is simply asinine. Each time we dismiss the opinions of those who disagree with us, we negate the same values we seek to uphold.

Similarly, a social experiment conducted by YouTuber Joey Salads suggests that Bernie supporters are actually more violent than Trump supporters. Salads held a Bernie sign outside of a metro station in north Hollywood and received thumbs up, yet when he switched to a Trump sign, hostility ensued. People swatted the sign out of his hands, flicked him off, threw water bottles at him, pushed and shoved him and showered him with foul language and names like “fascist pig.”

I’m not saying that all Bernie supporters are aggressive or that all Trump supporters are accepting in any way, this is just a documented example of the intense fanaticism among liberals today. There’s no denying that this election is abnormally polarized. However, we cannot allow this to push us to treat other people with disrespect. One of my family friends is a Trump supporter, and he recently walked out his front door to find that his Trump sign had been trampled. Destruction of another’s property is never okay, regardless of your beliefs. We can’t let this election get the best of our sensibilities. We can’t let this election dissolve our humanity.

Liberalism and progressivism go hand in hand, yet if we keep treating the opposition in this manner, we won’t ever accomplish anything. The right wing is not guiltless on this topic either, yet I find it discouraging that this trend is occurring within my own social circles.

This isn’t a new political battle, obviously. Partisan politics has appeared throughout our nation’s history. This is just especially disappointing because we are the generation that is now presented with the opportunity to change it.

My suggestion: talk to someone with a different opinion today. Actually listen. Try to find merit in their argument. Open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. Most of all, be willing to show understanding to those who believe differently than you.