By Dion J. Pierre Columnist
Indentifying yourself as a Conservative or a Republican at our school is truly a scarlet letter. Being asked your political affiliation turns what could have been an intellectual exchange of ideas into an awkward silence and the feeling that you have to be ashamed of what you believe.
I want to make three things clear to any Republican reading this. The first is that there is nothing wrong with being a Republican. We are the best party in the country and have the best track record on the side of liberty than any other party in our history. Secondly, as young people, it is our job to remind our peers of that legacy. Third, it is not your fault we have attained this image.
So what happened to the Republican Party that it conjures an image of old hate-filled white males? Sometime during the 60s, our party decided that our concern was to tell people how to live their lives. We took stances that were against the socially progressive agenda of a rapidly changing country. The powers that be abandoned our core message of true classic conservatism, one that tells the government to stay the hell out of your business, and began to tell people how they should live.
They denied women their reproductive rights, told gay Americans they couldn’t marry whom they wanted, and lost the trust of the very people they emancipated under our party’s greatest leader, Abraham Lincoln. All this just to appease the religious right stuck in their belief that America was on the verge of moral collapse. To every non-Republican reading this, please know that this is in no way true Conservatism, and two great modern conservative heroes left the legacy to prove it.
With the death of Margaret Thatcher this week, I was reminded of all the grief experienced after the passing of venerated Republican hero Ronald Reagan. The truth is that Ronald Reagan would hate the modern extremist running around masquerading as Republicans. He would call Tea Partiers what they are: a group of individuals who held a gun to the head of the American economy and did not think for a second the destruction their intransigence could have caused. Regan raised the debt ceiling a handful of times during his administration, but of course, Reagan wasn’t an idiot.
It will be surprising for some people to know Thatcher and Reagan were advocates of gay rights before it was ever cool. Thatcher voted for the decriminalization of homosexuality while she served in the British parliament in the sixties. And in a bold move two years before his presidential election, Reagan was a vocal opponent of the Briggs Initiative which would have barred openly gay Californians from serving in public schools. What does this legacy mean for me? Well I want to know where all the conservatives with real balls went. When did we stop standing on the side of liberty and began submitting to extremism? The greatest Republicans have all been moderates: Lincoln, Eisenhower, and yes, Ronald Reagan.
I’m tired of my fellow students giving the awkward laugh when they learn of my political party, I’m tired of my club getting weird looks when people pass by, and I’m tired of losing elections because we attempt to turn moderates into extremist. There was nothing wrong with Mitt Romney; there was something wrong with these new 2012 Republicans. How many people know Mitt Romney once claimed during his first Senate race that he would do more for gay rights than Ted Kennedy would? In fact he wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans stating that “we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.” The man that wrote that letter would have been a great leader, because he recognized the natural rights of all people.
It’s time for the young GOP to take our party back. Let the country know that yes, we have women, we have minorities, and we represent America. If we don’t do this we are handing the country over the Democrats, and will slowly watch as Americans vote for socialism under the guise of Liberalism. It’s time again for little nineteenth century classic liberal conservatism.
The best thing to happen to the Republican Party was losing the 2012 Election. It was a wakeup call that we can no longer go along with this narrative of anti-intellectualism, intransigence, and the fear of change. It’s up to the younger generation to change this terrible perception.
I’m not surprised no one wants to hear what conservatives have to say anymore. The dirty looks are the fault of the people who stopped representing us the minute the minute they began preaching social conservatism instead of talking on the real issue: economics. Now we are being forced to sit through four more years of an administration that is making it harder for college graduates to get jobs. We have our mission, are we up to the challenge?