(Oliver Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
If you asked me about my political beliefs in eighth grade, I would’ve responded with a sweeping left-leaning response, no questions asked.
I stuck to the assumption that conservatives were only looking to prevent the country from moving forward, and that liberals or more appropriately, “progressives,” were the ones pushing for change. Bigoted, am I right?
However, especially with today’s divisive climate, my four years in high school and how the Clayton community and much of the democratic party has reacted to the sudden transition from the Obama to Trump administration have caused me to get off my high horse and reflect: What does it mean to be liberal?
Liberal, by definition as given by Merriam-Webster, is someone “who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways.”
Yes, the word has different meanings depending on the context, but I think we can all agree, if you think of yourself as a liberal, you think you’re accepting and willing to consider new ideas, cause that’s what we’re proud of being at Clayton, right? We proudly pump our chests to be this caring environment for everybody: all races, gender and opinions are welcome.
With the most recent Globe cover story, however, this seems not to be the case. With 56.5 percent of Democrats at CHS claiming that if they found out a friend voted for Trump, it would worsen their friendship with that friend, it’s disappointing, but not surprising.
On a daily basis, as seen in the cover story, conservatives at CHS are mocked and belittled just for their differing beliefs to the point that many of the interviewees requested to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation from their peers.
So much for Clayton’s “accepting” environment.
Insults spread fast if anyone references MAGA or follows Donald Trump on Instagram. People are quick to claim their conservative peers are racist, homophobic or misogynists without concrete evidence. In general, if you identify as a republican or hold some conservative beliefs, expect to be attacked for your views.
This is Clayton hypocrisy at it’s finest.
We tend to be accepting of others as long you’re left-leaning. We tend to listen and promote discussion for other opinions as long as it isn’t a conservative stance. We flock to think that any Democratic opinion means “good” without any reason other than the fact that everybody else seems to agree with it. Whatever happened to civil discourse and being truly “liberal?”
If Clayton were truly liberal, accepting environment, we would support discussion between conservatives and liberals. We would be open to new ideas, be respectful even if we disagree, but most importantly, we would try to understand the other side rather than outright reject them.
Personally, I know this has worked for me. By looking at the other side and talking with other conservatives with an open mind, I’ve been able to form my own opinions over divisive topics and truly have a “liberal” approach when considering both sides of an argument.
Four years ago, I would’ve blindly listed out only democratic views. Now, I’m able to proudly say I can support my views with evidence rather than doing so just because it’s a democratic opinion.
As a result, I support immigration, universal healthcare, racial diversity, LGBTQ rights, recognizing climate change, gun-control and capitalism. At the same time, I’m opposed to open borders, identity politics, banning of the second-amendment and socialism. In general, I’m more of a mixed bag now. Whereas I used to be a hardcore democrat, I’m very much a moderate now, but a more well-versed one.
Sure, not everyone may have this “political awakening” like me, but by listening, forming individual opinions and being polite, I think most will see some validity to the other side and figure out that conservatives in general aren’t the racists and bigots everyone at CHS claims them to be.
For a school that identifies primarily as liberals, let’s be true liberals. Let’s stop blindly following the beliefs of the group and the beliefs our parents forced on us, but form our own opinions. Let’s stop the ridiculous name-calling and rejection and be more open.
Common decency can go a long way.
In the end, regardless of your political stance, we have more in common with each other than we think. But rather than reject the differences that some of our peers may have over politics, let’s celebrate this diversity in thought. Just as we champion ourselves to be an accommodating environment for all races and genders, I think there’s plenty room for all ideologies. Let’s be the accepting Clayton environment we’re proud of.
This infographic, featured in the Globe’s cover story “A House Divided,” revealed a bit of information about CHS students’ political beliefs. The statistic showing how students would react to finding out a friend held opposing beliefs is the statistic that concerned Sean the most, as described in his story.