Columns / Discourse / January 15, 2015

Ask a conservative: Race in the GOP

The discourse part of the newspaper is always unique: no matter the week, there is always an interesting read for everyone. My goal this term is to make my column as interesting to you as any of the others, and to do this I am going to let you pick the topic. That’s right: this column, instead of being penned on topics that I have chosen or are relevant to headline current events, will now be a sort of “ask the conservative” column. This will be a place to read a conservative perspective on the topics that are important to you, no matter how controversial they may be.

I’m going to call this column “The White Elephant in the Room,” (a triple pun, I couldn’t help myself) starting immediately. The link to an anonymous question box will be posted on the TKS website and the Facebook page, as well as listed at the bottom of this article. This ask box will be open to any Knox student or faculty member and I will address the responses as they trickle in; if there are multiple submissions on the same topic, I will probably lean more towards that topic sooner rather than later. I want this column to be about what the reader wants to hear about. When submitting, don’t hold back, as I won’t either.

To kick things off, I’m going to discuss a stereotype that many of my peers have mentioned to me and one that is often endorsed online or even in the mainstream media: the idea that all conservatives are racist, rich white males.

I’m a white female. A majority of the members of Knox Conservatives are also female, which isn’t as unusual as you may think. I am not “rich” by any definition of the word, but I don’t feel that it would be relevant if I was or that anyone who is should feel guilty about it. I’m not a racist. I’m a huge advocate of women’s rights and human rights in general, and yet I am a capitalist conservative. Yes, it works. It fits. It makes sense. Get over it.

Have you ever heard of Stacy Washington, an African American woman who hosts a radio show called “Stacy on the Right” in Saint Louis, Missouri?  How about Herman Cain, an African American businessman who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012? Maybe you’ve heard of Bobby Jindal, the child of Indian immigrants that is now the governor of Louisiana? Does the name Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ring any bells? It certainly should; she was the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.

This is just a handful of the people that identify as conservatives, if not Republicans, that aren’t white. Taking that into consideration, we have to realize that each one has constituents or listeners that weren’t deterred by their races and still elected them, and many of them are probably people of color themselves. I’m not trying to say “Wow, GOP, look at all these non-white conservatives!” in any way; in fact, I’m not even a huge fan of the two party system and I don’t even consider myself to be a “Republican.” I’m just saying, party lines and ideals shouldn’t be pushed or judged on race or gender, and it certainly isn’t in a lot of situations. Conservative ideals line up with fairness for all citizens and shouldn’t be dismissed as racist because of a handful of people. For example, the differences between black and white incomes shrunk under Reagan and have grown under Obama. Race doesn’t always come into play politically.

Shannon Caveny

Tags:  Bobby Jindal Conservative diversity GOP Herman Cain Ileana Ros-Lehtinen race

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