Growing up, my parents were always very open about their political beliefs. They encouraged me to learn about what was out there and to form my own opinions about what I believed was best for the government. Never were political opinions forced upon me as truth. It was always a matter of discovering my own political views.
For a long time, I never really had any substantial political views of my own. I was a child which meant I didn’t have a say in the government: meaning I could honestly not have cared less than I did. Then, Senior year came around, and it came time in our Government class to register to vote. I had to choose a political party. I remember going home and asking what parties my parents belonged to and what they expected me to do. They were very clear about my political views being a personal choice. We do live in America after all.
That week, I did a lot of online quizzes about “finding your party”, most of which were meaningless and told me absolutely nothing. I started reading articles about specific people in office and what parties they belonged to. I learned about what issues were out there. Suddenly, I had opinions on them, pretty strong opinions.
I don’t really remember what my first political discussion with my parents was about, but I remember that we didn’t agree on a single thing. Everything they said I met with a question, and they did the same to me. At first, I thought the goal was to try to get people to switch their beliefs, but I soon learned that that was not the point or even possible in many situations. It’s not about agreeing all of the time on the issues. It is, however, about being tolerant of other beliefs and wanting what is best for the people.
The only other thing I remember about this first discussion was hearing my mom ask where she went wrong in raising a liberal. For a while after that I was afraid to speak politically because I thought she was disappointed in me and the beliefs I had. Maybe she wanted a more conservative child, but that wasn’t me. I couldn’t be that girl. I was just me. Slowly, I become more comfortable arguing what I feel politically with my parents.
Today, though our beliefs are still very different and often conflicting, my parents and I have frequent discussions about government and politics. In a way, I feel like it brings us closer together. Some political issues can get heated or even emotional, and it is always enlightening to hear what someone with opposing views thinks.
I’ve had quite a few friends that were shocked to learn that I was a lone liberal in a family of conservatives, but that’s who we are and it works for us. I was lucky enough to have parents that respected my views even if they didn’t match up with their own. I am thankful every day to live in a country and a home where my political views are my own, and no one tells me what I can and can’t believe.