Sunday, October 31, 2004

What it means to be a Republican on a liberal college campus
Keith recently modified an older blog post of his, and turned it into a YDN column. Today, Casey Miner challenged him.
Also, today's Best of the Web, James Taranto addresses the question of the Roe Effect, and ties it into a poll of college students, attempting to analyze their politics.

From these pieces, I've spent all day mulling over what it means for me, personally, to be conservative, and more specifically a Republican, at Yale.
I was recently attacked in the comments following one of my posts for "spewing the party line," and not promoting any form of free thinking. Addressing that specifically, the assumption made by that challenger is that no one could possibly believe the Republican Party line, that it must be pure propaganda spoken by people who can't think for themselves.

But that's what happens in the intellectual world. The overwhelming majority of college students, particularly at a place like Yale, of professors, of people with graduate degrees generally, support the liberal, Democratic world view. The Pew poll of journalists illustrates this, the statistics of party donation rates on college campuses illustrate this, walking around any college campus illustrates this. To be a Republican in any of these environments, then, results in assumptions of ignorance or even stupidity. [Author's note: This post was begun on 10/28/2004, paused, and restarted here on 10/30/2004.] You'd have to be stupid to support Bush, the people around me assume, and tell me often. I listen to the assumptions of the media, demonstrated in the way that questions are posed, and repeated in the conversations I have with my peers. But still, the fact remains, I am not an idiot. I do not blindly follow the opinions handed down to me by Fox News and talk radio. I firmly believe that big government constrains liberty. I firmly believe that people will rise out of poverty when they are encouraged to do so, rather than subsidized to subsist in their current state of existence.

I listened tonight to Tim Russert demand of Pete Coors how a conviction to cut taxes and lower the deficit can work together without contradiction. While Coors failed to make the correct response, this does not make his convictions stupid, or misinformed. Realizing that stimulating the economy, and increasing individuals' disposable income eventually leads to higher government revenues does not make one gullible. It's a conviction that has been borne out by Reagan's tax cuts, which resulted in the boom of the 1980s and 90s (with the brief plateau at the end of Bush 41's presidency, the longest economic boom in our national history); it's a conviction that has been carried out by JFK's decision to cut taxes; it's a conviction that many Americans hold, and the Left will never understand.

Tonight I am in New Hampshire, working as member of the Yale College Republicans, campaigning for President George W. Bush's reelection, going door-to-door to make sure that everyone gets out and votes. As I was leaving campus, a liberal friend of mine said "I heard that you guys are going up there to turn people away from the polls and steal the election." The absurdity of this accusation proves the assumptions of my fellow Yalies, that the only way we can win an election is without justification, by deceiving and lying to people.

But I am surrounded by people who are not motivated by a culture of fear. We hear stories, and see evidence of destruction of private property by liberals who hate Bush. Signs are torn down, only to be replaced, only to be stolen and never seen again. (For example: In Derry, New Hampshire, where I am tonight, Bush campaigners put up over 100 large signs around town, in legitimate, legal locations, mostly on private property. About a week later, less than 30 percent of them remain. Through the entire campaign, in the same town, there has been exactly 1, ONE, complaint of a Kerry lawn sign, standard size, being removed.) Cars with a W sticker on them are keyed, or their tires slashed. A few weeks ago, a Bush campaign headquarters in Tennessee was shot in a drive-by. Multiple Bush headquarters have been broken into by unknown people, and campaign strategy documents have been stolen. Democrat campaign strategy documents, on the other hand, show evidence of plans to accuse Republicans of poll intimidation even if such events do not occur. Friends, I repeat, friends of mine curse me for supporting Bush and told me I should take my "Four More Years," "I Love Capitalism," "Bush-Cheney 2004," and Ronald Reagan posters out of my window. They warn me that if I don't, my room could be vandalized. Of course, they'd never do it, but they know people who would. The Yale College Republicans spent the better part of a night chalking pro-Bush messages on Cross Campus, only to wake up and find them vandalized.

It is a real climate of fear, designed to frighten us away from our beliefs, and to prevent us from voicing them in any visible way. I am told to shut up when discussing my beliefs with sympathizers while I eat my lunch in the dining hall. My YDN column received a lot of praise from people on both sides of the political aisle, but more than anything else I heard people say, "You raised a lot of points I'd never thought of, but you can't really believe that right?" That's innocuous in and of itself, but it is usually followed by "Even if you do, you really shouldn't publish those thoughts, or people are going to think less of you." I am often told that it's despicable how often I resort to the talking points from the Bush-Cheney '04 website, and I've had other conservative friends of mine tell me they often face the same accusation. The problem is, we don't visit this site with any regularity. I go every now and then to buy apparel, or signs, or bumper stickers, or whatever, and have scanned the campaign platform and proposals a few times, but honestly, I have no idea where to even find campaign talking points. I'm on the Bush-Cheney email list, but I hardly ever read what they send me. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity with anything approaching regularity, and I certainly don't look to any of these sources in order to decide what I believe. In reality, though I don't repeat what others have told me, I pray, and I think, and I come up with my own decisions. I read the news for 2-3 hours a day. I read the NYT, Washington Post, WSJ, Weekly Standard, CNN.com, Economist, and the multitude of other blogs and news sources that you can see at the right side of this page, and I make my own conclusions. I have spent my entire conscious life, to this day, debating with my family. Though my brother, James, and my father generally agree with my politics, they constantly play Devil's Advocate. I remember one specific instance, at the time when I was opposed to the Death Penalty, and arguing with my father. He finally convinced me, and I told him he had, that I had switched slightly in favor of limited executions. In that moment, he switched and started throwing my previous arguments right back at me. I was infuriated, but such dialogue forces me to closely analyze all of my political positions, until I can be confident in my decisions.

And therein lies the proof of my convictions. I will not be silenced, and in my short time at Yale, I've seen the growing influence of conservative voices. Unfortunately, at the same time I have seen these efforts succeed with too many people. Many of my conservative friends have concluded that it's not worth the hassle to place a Bush sticker on their cars. They'll still vote for the President, of course, but it's too much trouble to support him openly. This makes it hard, of course, for those of us who won't back down. As I said, I've been threatened by repercussions. I've been told to silence myself, and I've been told that others will do it for me.

The fact remains, however (and here's where the Roe Effect possibly ties in), that my generation is more conservative then our parents were at our age. Yale, as I mentioned, is becoming more conservative. Our voices are growing stronger. We've got 17 highly committed Yale College Republicans here in New Hampshire, working hard, 9-hour days in the rain trying to get our President reelected. College campuses around the country remain locked in liberalism, but this is being exposed. UNC Chapel Hill, this week, tried to hold a debate between a liberal and a conservative professor, and it was picked up by the national media (however briefly) that they could not find a conservative to represent the school and were forced to import a professor from nearby Duke University. Groups like Young America's Foundation are working to bring conservative speakers to campuses around the country. Sean Hannity is effectively following Michael Moore around the country, visiting the schools the latter visits usually within a few weeks to contradict his lies—lies all too often accepted as fact by students around the country.

What I'm effectively saying is, we're coming out. It's not easy to be a conservative at Yale, or on any college campus outside a handful of state schools in the midwest and Texas, but we are rising. We may very well lose this election (I'll express my thoughts on that in a post later tonight in my election outcome prediction), but we will not lose the overall war. Too many of us see the crime in the murder of millions of unborn children, the bigotry of affirmative action based on race instead of income, the perpetuation of poverty subsidized by the welfare state, the restrictions on success imposed by excessive taxation at all income levels, the danger of pandering to unfriendly foreign "allies," the restriction of liberty imposed by limiting the constitutional right to possession of firearms, the misleading stories told by much of the national media, and the untold other lies and deceptive propaganda through which the Left maintains a stranglehold on intelligent thought in this country.

It is hard to be a conservative at Yale, but it is necessary, and when I look at what needs to be achieved it becomes much easier.

No comments: