When I first came to Knox College on a visit as a senior in high school, the overwhelming liberal bias of the institution was not immediately apparent to me. After a few weeks of my first Fall Term here, however, I was much more aware of this, alongside the fact that the majority of Knox students are outspoken liberals. Nearly every day of my time here I, in one way or another, have had my views challenged, often times not very politely. That being said, I firmly believe that having your ideas questioned is healthy and important, but what happens to conservatives here is much different. I know for a fact that each year there are a significant number of incoming conservative freshmen who are afraid to express their true beliefs for fear of either being shunned and ridiculed by their peers or having their professors view them in a negative light. To anyone reading this who feels like they fall into that category, do not lose hope. As I am sure you are aware, your situation may not be as dramatic as I have just described, given the (mostly) friendly nature of the Knox community. I suggest you seek out the Knox Conservatives Club, which meets every other Thursday night from 7 to 9pm in Alumni Hall Room 300, the Evelyn Handler Forum, or just vent your frustrations to any friends who will listen, since you probably keep them bottled up in class.
Interest in politics within the Knox community has surged within the past year. Large numbers of Knox students came out and became very politically active in support of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (the same demographic of Sanders supporters who Hillary Clinton recently referred to as “basement dwellers”). This election year provides a great opportunity for Knox College to come together and have civilized discourse about the issues currently facing America. As I previously stated, however, this oftentimes does not occur, with many reverting to intense emotional outbursts and insults in lieu of a coherent, civil discussion. My main message here is this: no matter your political views, you should at least hear out and be respectful of others’ viewpoints when you are talking about politics with them. It feels as though tolerance is unfortunately often times a one-way street at Knox, and that people write off conservative views as absolutely unacceptable where their feelings begin.
I am an outspoken conservative, yet some of my best friends at Knox are extremely liberal, and we frequently talk politics. I always strive to refrain from being aggressive in political discussions. I was somewhat humorously surprised to learn that I was “an ignorant right wing extremist” because I always hear people out and form my opinions on what they had to say after the fact. Sure, it would be easy for me to arrogantly write off Occupy protestors as ‘a bunch shiftless hippies’ or the top dogs of the EU as spineless weasels, but this sort of dismissive, aggressive attitude doesn’t achieve anything for either side of the argument except for some chuckles from the like-minded. Sadly, this is exactly the type of behavior we see exhibited by our current presidential candidates. Whether it be Hillary Clinton stating that Trump supporters “belong in a basket of deplorables” or Trump stating that, well … take your pick of his insults.
On a similar note, I am not here to make a case for Trump for president, yet I view him as far more preferable to the alternative. I was a Ted Cruz supporter myself, and am now deeply saddened to see that we now have two loud-mouthed New York liberals running for president. I feel as though the general attitude at Knox about the current presidential election is one of great disappointment and disenfranchisement, and contempt for the candidates. Yet I can’t help but feel excited and have a great deal of pride in my generation, the millennials, who so often get dismissed as spoiled brats who don’t know how good they have it. The reason for this is I feel as though through this election season so far, quite a few have demonstrated that they are politically conscious, and care about the direction and fate of our great nation.
Many millennials I know do not have everything handed to them, and they work very hard to help out their families and put themselves through school. I personally have numerous friends, liberal and conservative, who have chosen to serve their country and community through the military, law enforcement or other means of public service. These Americans come from numerous different religions, races and creeds. I do not see how these young Americans are that different from their predecessors, and our generation has the potential to be the next generation to competently keep our republic prosperous, secure and flourishing for years to come. In my opinion, the leftists in America, especially at Knox, continually try to split up and divide Americans by forcing people to focus on multiculturalism and hyper-sensitizing people instead of unifying them in the spirit of our country’s motto, E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one). I believe America is and always has been the greatest nation in the history of humanity. While aspects of our history and culture have unquestionably been tainted with racist policies, if you fall into the radical leftists’ trap of getting too hung up on that, you will miss the fact that you are living in the single greatest idea humanity has ever produced. We are a country which was founded on the idea of individual freedoms, opportunities and liberties, with a brilliant constitution written by men not focused on greed or power, but ensuring that their new nation would have a government designed to protect, serve and defend the rights and liberties of its citizens.
The United States has come a long way in its history and in multiple areas, it has had a rough past, no doubt. But, as I just mentioned, it is really just one giant experiment in self-governance and republican democracy which relies on informed and motivated citizens to keep it running. In my opinion, one would be foolish not to take pride and participate in this. Through no fault of your own, you may have been taught to not take pride in your nation and express disgust at the sight of American exceptionalism by leftists for various reasons. Liberal or conservative, I challenge you to do the opposite. Americans of all races and religions have served diligently in public service, worked hard to improve, and even fought and died for our great experiment of a nation. No nation in the history of man has sacrificed so much for the greater good at its own expense, fighting for the freedom of others and staying behind and helping to rebuild the nations where it fought its battles for justice, liberty and the greater human good. Our constitution serves as our safeguard to our liberties, and thousands of Americans have succeeded in adding to and improving it over time to better ensure it protects all Americans. Our country is still the number one destination for immigrants, and with great reason. I challenge you to take pride in our shared American culture, evaluate what it means to you to be a citizen of this truly great nation and look into what ways you can take part in our tradition of excellence. There was a time in American history when all Americans could unite together as Americans and leave partisan politics behind as they went out and fought for themselves, their beliefs and their allies, and I think that we need to strive to return to this ideal as soon as possible.