My family was never very political. If you want to know the extent, know that I didn't actually know what it meant to be liberal or conservative until my senior year of high school.
I've heard those words used often on TV and in conversation. I knew some presidents were Republicans and some were Democrats (and sometimes other parties like Whig or Federalist). I was aware that some people supported abortion while other people opposed it, some people supported guns while other people opposed them, some people supported gay marriage while other people opposed it. But it was not until my first political science class when all of those ideas came together.
The timing was also interesting because my senior year of high school was also when Donald Trump was elected president. Regardless of anyone's feeling on him, Trump remains arguably one of the most polarizing presidents in our history. As a result, it became so blindingly obvious to me who was liberal and who was conservative. What was I? My family was always a swing vote in presidential elections--I typically asked who my parents voted for after they voted. But with a nation so polarized, it seems I have to pick a side.
But I'm glad I still haven't made my choice yet.
First of all, if our nation was best with all the right-wing conservative beliefs or the left-wing liberal beliefs, I feel like there would be no need for two parties.
Both parties have beliefs that are necessary for the betterment of our country and if only the beliefs of one side were the solution, I feel like we would've figured that out by now. When I don't feel strongly one way or another, I think I look at issues far more objectively. I don't feel one solution is better just because "I am a Conservative and that's what Conservatives believe" or "I believe in x, y, and z because I'm a Liberal and those are Liberal beliefs." I think about what's actually best.
I also don't have beliefs that are strong enough to color my opinion about anyone else.
Today, Republicans and Democrats are very much at odds with each other because everyone's beliefs are so strong that nobody is open to listening to or accepting each other. You will not hear me throw around slurs like "libtard," "Nazi," "snowflake," or "bigot" because I don't automatically associate those terms with the parties. I will not think any less or differently of you because of how liberal or conservative your beliefs are. I have met very kind and intelligent people on both ends of the political spectrum and my friendships have no party divides.
The unfortunate truth is that even if I give hints of any of my personal beliefs that might be left-leaning or right-leaning, I am shut down and criticized.
Do I want to hate babies or hate women? Do I want to be unsympathetic to the poor or a radical socialist? I have had people try to start arguments with me about issues where, quite frankly, I don't have very strong beliefs. I have my instincts and my values, I want to do what is kind but also what is best for the nation as a whole. I do not judge people based on race, religion, beliefs, sexuality, or gender identity...maybe I'm liberal then. But I also believe in the importance of hard work, which is a more old school, conservative belief. I can't believe I am even sharing these beliefs on here because I usually bottle them up, afraid someone will try to argue with me.
I understand that it is important to believe in something and strong beliefs are what lead to progress, but in this political environment, it becomes far too scary to voice your opinions without getting shut down. I can come up with educated answers to certain political issues, but I will refuse to devote myself to one political party. I am 19 and still have yet to actually vote but unless this political environment changes, I will remain an 'unaffiliated' voter.