My hope is that this note will bring you some inspiration.
I’ve spoken with a few of you, and remember how it feels to be a conservative on a liberal campus. While I graduated from college in 2009, I’ve been following the news so I understand as a College Republican you’ve probably been walking on eggshells this week.
As the election madness continues on campus (it will, eventually, calm down), I felt the need to write an open letter to all of you, as a fellow conservative millennial, to remind you of a few things.
You’re not a naïve, uncompassionate monster.
Canceling classes, hosting cry ins, being unable to physically get out of bed to make it to class and the talk of fear and imminent threats may leave you secretly Googling Donald Trump’s comments and policies to see if you’re some sort of naïve, uncompassionate monster. I can’t speak for all of you, but I know many of you aren’t.
Yes, it is truly outrageous for someone to think that because you voted for Donald Trump you are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. (I know the liberals’ heads are exploding.) That would be like us saying because someone voted for Hillary Clinton, he/she must think all Latinos are needy, be dumb enough to think it’s OK to put confidential information on a private server, or corrupt enough to use money collected through a foundation to pay for a wedding.
This does not mean any of us are condoning any of the crazies on either side – it just means we all voted for the candidate that best matched our policies and values (Full disclosure: For me, this year that was a conservative third party candidate – yes that’s right, someone who was #NeverTrump is wishing you, College Republicans, well – who knew).
Don’t lash out with opinions filled with profanity and hate.
I was a senior in college in 2008 and remember election night vividly. When President Obama won, I got teary-eyed and I remember feeling sad and angry. (Note: I had no problem making it to class and did not require the assistance of a cry in.) Was it tempting to just go rogue and lash out at every negative comment that was made to me? Absolutely. (To be honest, I probably made some comments that weren’t kind.)
But you know what’s even better? To know the policies and the comments everyone is talking about, so you can respond in an educated way. When it comes to Trump, you may find some things you disagree with, and that’s OK – you’re developing your own thoughts and opinions along the way!
For example – you may be curious about Trump’s anti-Muslim stance the left continues to bring up. If you do some simple research, you’ll see that’s how the left describes Trump’s comments to stop Muslim immigration temporarily, until threats can be minimized.
When you hear everyone talking about the LGBTQ community worrying about having their rights stripped away, you’ll do some research and discover that Trump has an openly gay man on his transition team (Peter Thiel) and that he specifically mentioned being proactive about protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination at the Republican National Convention (trust me, I was there).
You have every right to speak up…and you should.
Keeping in mind what I mentioned about opinions vs. educated opinions with facts – you should speak up. I understand that it’s challenging and in some cases intimidating as College Republicans, but you have a right to be heard. You should be respectful (that goes without saying), but you’re doing your fellow students a favor if you speak up during those class discussions about the Trump presidency. You will make someone think.
Many of them will write you off and have their own blanket statement to make about you and your thoughts, but chances are you just might cause one student to think. Better yet – if you’ve got a class with liberals who know their facts, you can have an actual debate.
You don’t need a safe space. You’re growing thick skin. What you see and hear on campus may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but that’s a good thing. Let it motivate you do some research and learn the other side of the story. Don’t cave to whining about having hurt feelings.
Yes, many of these comments are prejudice and discriminatory (who knew the left was capable of that?!), but let it roll off your back. Be confident in your views and values and be kind. And if you can, find a few good College Republicans to vent to. Venting is totally acceptable – whining is not.
You have the power to change the Trump Republican stereotype.
Despite the insanity you may be witnessing on your campus, if you can somehow muster the strength to be calm, cool, collected and kind, you will blow their minds. Rather than saying everything that’s going through your mind – that may or may not be empathetic and kind – take the high road.
Wear a safety pin to take a stand against discrimination – contrary to popular belief, we don’t condone discrimination against anyone, whether we agree with homosexuality or not.
Have a liberal friend that has been sulking the past week? Offer to go for coffee. Be compassionate. Don’t be afraid that the coffee date will lead to political conversation, instead, just be prepared to be kind and share that you can agree to disagree.
Even if they don’t take you up on your offer, they’ll see you made an effort – and that is sure to blow their minds (what kind of hate-filled racist, sexist person does that?!).
You aren’t alone.
I’ve heard stories first hand from a few different College Republicans I know. You’re all feeling the same way. Many of you are silent, so you may not see the network of conservatives on campus, but I assure you they’re there.
If you’re brave enough to post this article, you just might find a few.