I break all the rules of identity politics. I’m a college-bound eighteen-year-old girl, and I’m a Republican.
My fellow young conservatives and I don’t have an easy road ahead of us in college. Most of our peers and even our professors tend to be our political opposites, so we’re automatically in the minority. We’re used to the stereotypes that come along with being Republicans: we’re racist, sexist, uncompassionate, elitist and stuck-in-the-past. Except, we’re not.
Despite what you may hear, there are many areas in which conservatism is more compassionate than liberalism. By supporting free markets, many elected Republicans continue to make it possible for small, family-owned businesses to bring in profit. If the government was allowed to regulate almost all business like some big government Democrats would like, only large corporations could stay afloat with all the red tape they’d have to dodge. Republicans also oppose high taxes, so when less of your income is taken away by the federal government, you can thank House Republicans for fighting tax bills proposed by their Democratic counterparts. We believe that assistance for those in need can come from their communities, not big government programs that take other citizens’ hard-earned money. Speaking of those in need, the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan released a plan to fight poverty as a part of his Better Way proposal, and although his plan is not a guaranteed success, Ryan and House Republicans proved that they are not unsympathetic to American poverty. At the end of the day, party ideologies are so large and complex that we can’t stereotype people as good or bad based on their political preferences.
Young people tend to run away from the Republican Party because they relate the word Republican to extremely negative things like bigotry and hate. But, here’s the thing: most of us Republicans chose our political affiliation because we have a strong love for capitalism, individual responsibility and small government. We want to live and let live; many Republicans are very socially tolerant – intolerance these days comes from both parties, not just ours – but we have defined economic and governmental preferences that differ from liberalism. Just because we want to keep the money that we earn doesn’t mean we aren’t sympathetic to more needy Americans, and even though most of us scoff at our generation’s version of political correctness – real life doesn’t protect your feelings – we’re not out to offend or hurt anyone.
Luckily, these Republican stereotypes are slowly but surely changing with a motivated conservative youth. Conservative organizations aimed at young people are becoming more and more prominent like Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA, which advocates for a smaller government with catchy slogans and social media activism led by college-specific chapters and events. Similarly, Future Female Leader empowers young conservative women through an online publication and various activism efforts. The goal of these organizations is not to generate hate, like some Democrats like to portray Republicans’ actions, but instead, it is to motivate the American youth to want to work hard and make a difference. By giving young people all the facts, movements like these are helping to develop informed voters, whether they end up deciding to be conservative or liberal.
For the young Democrats reading this, give your Republican peers a break. We aren’t voting for Hillary Clinton because we fundamentally disagree with her policies, not because she’s a woman. We oppose illegal immigrants, not law-following migrants looking for a better life. We try our best to listen to you when you explain why you “feel the Bern,” so stop the name-calling and give us the same courtesy when we profess our love for Marco Rubio. At our core, we’re rational and compassionate even though we don’t believe in socialism or hand-outs. Maybe, just maybe, you might agree with us on some points, but you have to let us talk first.