Columns / Discourse / February 25, 2015

Developing conservatism

Where exactly do you pull from to form your “conservative” ideology? What does conservatism mean to you?

This is going to be a complicated answer, so I apologize if I bore you (and if I don’t bore you, I apologize if I grind your gears somehow). The truth is, my “conservative” (if you would like me to leave that word in the quotes you put it in for some reason) ideology stems from my parents, as one would stereotypically expect. Sort of. Considering where I stand today on my opinions, only some of them still strongly correlate with what my parents believe in. Some of my opinions were simply inspired by adult discussions I had overheard or conclusions various family members had reached over holiday dinner tables. Some of my opinions straight up outrage my parents. I will elaborate. Sort of.

In kindergarten, we had a fake election. I voted for George Bush, not Al Gore, but I believe it was because I preferred the color red to the color blue, and so did the rest of my kindergarten/first grade elementary school, apparently; George Bush won, but his picture had been pasted on red construction paper in the lunch room, and Al Gore’s had been blue. Could this have kick-started my conservative ideology? Could this be the reason I put up with so much backlash and even published hatred and ridicule? Will Robin be able to save Batman from the Joker’s evil clutches?! I digress.

In fourth grade, I scolded classmates for voting for John Kerry in yet another fake election (why did we have these, exactly?). As a kid in middle school, I was definitely THE most vocally conservative student out of about, say, 300 kids. I made election posters to put on lockers for John McCain and I was five years from even being able to vote, and so was everyone around me.

I wasn’t shocked when Obama won when he was up against Mitt Romney once I was in high school, but by then I had become embarrassed by my premature saltiness when it came to politics (countless adults scolded me for even having informed opinions when I was unable to vote Ñ the only thing that really bothers me still today). I became less and less vocal the more I became comfortable with what my opinions really were as I was surrounded by blindly liberal peers at a very liberal high school.

I believe this question wants to know WHAT those opinions were. In truth, I really cannot remember the details of childish beliefs exactly; the years between kindergarten and my senior year of high school are kind of a blur, other than the fact I loved capitalism in Economics class, I was really upset when I found out Christopher Columbus landed in Florida and not Jamestown for some reason and learning about World War II was really interesting. I remember being very passionate about saving blue whales in second grade. I was very concerned about earth science and global warming in fifth grade. I was very passionate about lowering taxes in middle school. As I mentioned earlier, however, the older I became, the more I was able to research political controversies, and so my adult opinions came more to light.

To me, “conservatism,” means believing in freedom and equality across the board. It means that sometimes core values should be incorporated into government, but not always religiously and certainly not always. “Conservatism” is believing that we should all have the same opportunities at success, no matter how successful our own parents were or where our parents may have come from. Conservatism is, in short, upholding our Constitution.


Shannon Caveny

Tags:  Bush Conservatism elementary school Gore Kerry parents values

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