I'm Not Afraid To Be A Conservative In College

I'm Not Afraid To Be A Conservative In College

I am not scared to encounter disagreement; I am prepared to embrace it.
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What do you think of when you hear the word "conservative"? Do you envision an eighteen-year-old, female, future college student? Most people do not.

Whenever I tell people, "I am a conservative", the stereotype of a middle-aged, white man with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other fades before their eyes. Of course, such a statement is now considered an audacious one. As a result, I have experienced whispers of gossip, harsh glares, and immediate jeers after identifying as such.

But that does not make me frustrated or fearful for the next chapter of my life: college. These four years will truly be unlike anything I have ever known, and I could not be more ready for what is to come.

For my entire life, I have been educated in extremely conservative, Catholic-affiliated schools. While I have grown tremendously in my religious faith, I have been minimally exposed to those from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Within my high school, the majority of my classmates were very similar to me. We were all from similar backgrounds with similar families sharing similar values, and therefore similar political stances. Yet, most of them were, as I like to say, "blindly Republican". Reiterating their parent's outbursts at the TV during last night's Fox News report, their remarks, made in various settings including but not limited to the classroom or the hallways, not only had barely any intellectual rationale but also were delivered without any independent research. These comments bred a sense of fear, insensitivity, and hatred amongst the minority of liberal students-the wrong message to showcase to anyone who opposes your political views.

There were few liberals who bravely spoke out against the consensus; however, they were often shut off from further discussion. Occasionally, their oppositions were heard. Yet, instead of creating a "learning experience" for both sides, proper debate etiquette was simply ignored.

My first introduction to such debate was in my junior year of high school when I traveled to the Holy Land on an interfaith pilgrimage alongside Jewish and Catholic teenagers. For the first time in my life, I had to defend not only my religious beliefs but also my political opinions to an audience which thought radically different from me. Instead of shutting down these discussions, I was intrigued by the different perspectives--the art of debate. I attempted to articulate my beliefs and my reasoning behind them, but like any seventeen-year-old, I did not know much.


Aside from my lack of facts or research, I did know a few things. I knew that would not be the last time my opinions would be questioned. I knew my conservative, Catholic "bubble" would burst once I arrived on a college campus. I knew the tables would certainly turn, and I knew my opinions would soon become the minority.

I was given a preview of this reality during a pre-orientation event last month. On the first night, a casual conversation between my assigned roommate and I gradually transformed into a full-on political discussion. We stayed up for a majority of the night discussing a multitude of social issues, ranging from abortion to immigration, continuously disagreeing with each other.

Although there was plenty of dissent visible throughout our entire discussion, we shared a common virtue: respect. We equally listened to the other, refraining from any interruption or distractions. We were both dedicated to the conversation, interested more in understanding the other rather than refreshing our social media accounts. Our political dialogue ended at an "agree to disagree" stalemate at approximately three o'clock in the morning. And like a majority of political discussions, we fell asleep that night without the slightest change of our pre-established opinions.

Once I returned home, I acknowledged that there were many of these types of discussions to come. But next time, it probably won't be one-on-one. Instead, a large group, maybe even the entire class might disagree with me, including the professor. But I am not scared to encounter disagreement; I am prepared to embrace it.

There will be plenty bumps along the road, I'm sure. No matter what, some people-on both sides- will always be quick to judge, to stereotype. to generalize. I guess being a conservative automatically comes with elementary-school bullies who will constantly frame you as a sexist (even though I'm a woman), racist, or homophobe without a glimpse of factual support. There will be many people I meet who will pretend like they don't know me once they find out my political opinions. They will threaten to unfollow due to the vast amount of political articles that I share, but I won't mind having one less friend on Facebook.

If you plan to belittle me because of my political alliance, you should know a few things. First, I will not cry if someone questions my beliefs. I do not need the therapeutic treatment within a "safe space" because I encountered a political discord amongst my fellow peers. Instead, I will form a civil exchange of ideas, a freedom beautifully protected under the first amendment. But I must warn you, my arguments are not drenched with emotions; they are enveloped with principle. And principle does not shed tears; it reveals the truth.

So fellow classmates, I ask you not to judge me for my political identity. Rather, I compel you to question my principles, so we can work together, through our differences, to discover the truth.

Cover Image Credit: Juliana Cosenza

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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Beto O'Rourke Is The Future For The Democratic Party

Democrats need a new voice, and now they have him.

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As a self-professed progressive, the 2016 presidential election was one of the darkest days of my life. Every day I wish that the election had turned out differently. But if there's a silver lining, the Democratic Party has almost completely reinvented itself and has a chance to move forward.

Barack Obama was an amazing leader for the party for a decade. Hillary Clinton was arguably the most-flawed candidate the modern-day Democratic Party has ever nominated, and she lost to the most-flawed Republican ever nominated. So now the Democrats need someone to look up to and lead the way past the regressive presidency of Donald Trump. That man is Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke is a representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, which covers the city of El Paso. But right now people in the political world know him as the guy who is running against arguably the most-hated man in the Senate, Ted Cruz. Former House Speaker and fellow Republican John Boehner once said that Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh."

Cruz prides himself in being hated by Washington politicians, but hatred from his current colleagues could come back to bite him. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," said Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.

If O'Rourke wins in November, he'll take down Cruz, who is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington despite being hated. And it could launch Beto to even higher office someday.

Even if he loses to Cruz, Beto has an extremely bright future ahead of him because he's just what the Democratic Party needs right now. He's young, passionate, communicates extremely well and is a perfect representation of what the face of the party should be.

This year, O'Rourke has been setting an example of how Democrats should run their campaigns. Beto has traveled to every single one of Texas's 254 counties. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Democrats have pushed for campaign finance reform, and O'Rourke is leading by example with his campaign. Beto has taken $0 from Political Action Committees (PACs). All of his money comes from individual donors. Cruz has taken PAC money, but O'Rourke still holds a significant advantage in fundraising.

O'Rourke in his campaign emphasizes that Texas has among the highest immigration populations in the United States, but the senators from Texas, Cruz and John Cornyn, do not accurately represent the diversity of the state. O'Rourke has separated himself from Cruz by speaking out against the proposed border wall and the separation of immigrant children at the border.

I'm not from Texas, but I'm just as excited for this senate race as I was when Doug Jones won in my home state almost a year ago. Beto O'Rourke has an opportunity to make positive change in our country and actually bring people together. If he doesn't win in November, Beto should make plans for 2020 because he can become the face of the Democratic Party.

If you'd like to learn more about, join, or donate to the campaign, here is a link.

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