Navigating Political Discussions as a Conservative Student

(Mario Weddell/The Observer)

By KATIE SMITH
Contributing Writer

Being a conservative at Fordham can be pretty difficult. Students who lean even slightly to the right say they are often met with smiles of disbelief, looks of disgust and in some cases, disownment from their social group or class discussion. Conservatives on campus have expressed concerns over being silenced and dismissed throughout the months since the election.

“If I say I am a Republican, people immediately assume I am evil, against LGBTQ rights and so on,” explains Kelly Martin, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’19, who reports feeling hesitant to speak her mind about political issues. While she is fiscally conservative, she is socially liberal. “One of my best friends told me not to tell people I am conservative because it isn’t who I ‘really’  am. The words Republican and conservative scare people.”

Generalizations and stereotypes regarding both the Democratic and Republican parties are constantly brought up in politics, but Republican voices on campus are often drowned out by the liberal majority.

“the second I even test the waters as far as letting people know I was against Hillary, people either assume I’m joking or pray to me that I’m joking.”

“I do not view myself as a hater or a demon,” a freshman communications major states.  “I am a conservative who is very liberal when it comes to most social issues. However, the second I even test the waters as far as letting people know I was against Hillary, people either assume I’m joking or pray to me that I’m joking.” The student mentioned how her friend at Marymount Manhattan College, an independent voter, “was berated for suggesting that everyone should try to have a little bit of faith in the new president.”

“If love really trumps hate, why is everyone so quick to generalize and hate on the other side?” she said.

Democrats argue that moving forward and accepting President Trump is unacceptable given his bold, unfiltered statements. Alexa Sanders, FCLC ’20, says, “I think it’s important for Trump supporters to realize that it’s very, very hard for disenfranchised groups to just accept the very person who is disenfranchising them into the highest state of office.”

However, fiscal conservatives have their reasons for supporting Trump, and most often, those reasons do not include homophobia, racism, misogyny, or anti-Semitism.

“I voted third party but I viewed Trump as the lesser of two evils,” said Martin. “I respect the President and his win. I was never upset or angry with the results. I believe the government that governs the least governs the best, and I was not supportive of Clinton’s intentions to expand government power. Although controversial, President Trump fulfilled campaign promises within the first ten days in office and I commend him on that accomplishment.”

“There are many students who are quick to judge, and simply won’t listen to a student who is a member of the Republican Party.”

Navigating the many political discussions in the classroom here at Fordham feels like navigating a battlefield alone for most Republicans. Students report feeling uncomfortable “showing their cards” in front of their peers, and one freshman expresses her concerns: “I don’t want my participation grade to fall just because I don’t feel comfortable talking politics in my Spanish class.”

Many feel that unless they have had significant time to prove to an acquaintance that they are a friendly, caring individual, divulging their political ideas would only result in the loss of a potential friend.

“There are many students who are quick to judge, and simply won’t listen to a student who is a member of the Republican Party,” Martin continues. “I know that this doesn’t apply to all students; there are some who love to hear another perspective. Still, many students will judge someone based off one word–conservative–while asking other people to be tolerant of everyone else in the world.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. “fiscally conservative” so you hate poor people. That’s not socially liberal. Typical conservative snowflake complaining because people point out that her politics devalue the marginalized. boo hoo. Should’ve gone to Liberty University if you want a safe space where conservatism isn’t met with criticism.

  2. I’m truly sorry that our Philosophy department could not teach you to avoid straw man fallacies back in ’05-’06. I would argue that social and fiscal policies are not mutually exclusive but closely related in the real world. While Republicans have often targeted social welfare programs to minimize spending, lowering military spending and accumulated bureaucratic bloat would technically fall under “fiscal conservatism.” That being said, our welfare system needs an overhaul, beginning with its foundation – we should try to move people out of the lowest income brackets, not indefinitely sustain them in the same bracket.
    Granted, our definition of “poor” is consistently relative; even though the overall living standard in the United States is much higher than other countries, those who make less than the lowest quartile of income will be labeled as “lower class” or “poor.”

  3. “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

    – William F. Buckley, Jr.

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