Op-Ed: I’m a Conservative (There, I Said It)

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Karly Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief

In an increasingly charged political landscape, it’s more important than ever that everyone can express themselves without fear of ostracism. At every level, society and our community-at-large should refocus on fostering an environment that encourages civil discourse.

Unfortunately, I have found myself faced with situations where, as a young conservative, I do not feel safe voicing my opinion. Here, in fact, it is rare for people to be openly conservative, which has made me hesitant to speak plainly about my beliefs. Even as I write this article, I’m apprehensive of how others will react to my revealing my political leanings. I am taking a risk.

While I consider myself conservative, I also feel that I am open-minded. One of the main ways I have learned more about my ideology is by listening to the perspective of those who feel differently than I do.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way, yet our country still has a long way to go when it comes to respect and civility. From my view, what we lack is the ability to put the future of our country above our pride—there’s not always a “right” answer.

People can agree to disagree and leave it at that—there’s no need for politics to divide friendships, or the nation.”

— Karly Hamilton

I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t like being wrong, but I also know that compromise and hearing people out rarely have correct answers. There are multiple ways to approach interactions with others, and the success of discussions is often dependent on the intentions of those involved.

That’s where I think modern day politics diverge from the past. Instead of focusing on bridging the gap between citizens and fostering an environment where everyone can speak freely, people spend too much time focusing on “winning” arguments and proving their beliefs are valid.

Nobody should feel like their opinion is invalid. We all see the world in a different light, and that’s a good thing.

Instead of butting heads to prove which perspective is supposedly “right,” we need to learn how to appropriately engage with others. In an academic environment, much of that involves responding to alternative viewpoints with respectful inquiries instead of forceful statements.

By asking questions to better understand new perspectives instead of immediately discounting them, I have learned a lot about myself and my values. We too often fail to realize the impact of our biases on the way we approach the world; learning to ask questions before making judgments is the first step to fostering a more civil environment.

When I find myself wondering why a peer feels a certain way, I ask them to expand upon their perspective and how they came to feel the way they do. More often than not, I learn something new from their response, and it costs me absolutely nothing.

Do you feel comfortable sharing conservative views?

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One of the most valuable skills I think someone can have is the ability to put their personal feelings aside to communicate with others. People can agree to disagree and leave it at that—there’s no need for politics to divide friendships, or the nation.

As we look toward our nation’s future, one thing is for certain: we need to find a way to come together and hear out people with all points of view. America is incredibly polarized at the moment, and we need to take the first step in repairing what’s broken by addressing each other with civility and respect. Here, this means being aware of and welcoming to those who hold different political perspectives.