A Conservative Spotlight
May 19, 2017
One month ago, the Tribune sent out a market research survey to gain an understanding of what readers would like more of in the future. A common suggestion was more exposure and respect for conservative opinions. In light of the political polarization currently plaguing the U.S., the Tribune reached out to DV’s student body and faculty to talk to some conservatives and hear their thoughts on recent developments in politics and society. We recognize that we all live in a predominantly liberal area, but the Tribune still seeks to provide a platform for conservative voices to be heard and ultimately hopes to bridge the political divide and to foster unity.
A Q&A with a conservative teacher
Person A, an anonymous teacher at Dougherty Valley High School and a moderate conservative, attempts to shed some light on their experiences as a political conservative.
Q: What are your reasons for choosing to be a conservative?
A: I believe in a smaller role of the federal government and I think the individual states should hold a lot more power. People need to have more freedom to do what they want to do, so I don’t like the trend we’ve had of an increasingly powerful government in the past several years.
Q: Can you break down the stereotypes people have of conservatives?
A: I can’t speak for every person, but I definitely think that [the stereotypes] surrounding conservatives are absolutely ridiculous. Every conservative I personally know is the opposite of a racist. If anything, [being a conservative] is about treating people equally, not showing bias and restoring dignity and freedom to individuals. And being a product of a time period [in Los Angeles] when there was a period of racial unrest, racism is an issue that I grew up with and it’s an issue that’s very sensitive to me and has been a part of my life. So I know for a fact that what I support is the opposite of that.
Q: Does President Donald Trump accurately represent all your views as a conservative?
A: Yes, he actually does. Mostly, at least. Nobody’s perfect. I definitely think that all his efforts to redo the health care system are really important. I have a background in health care so it’s something I’m pretty passionate about and an issue I really understand. And I just think that the whole previous system was set up for failure. I have had numerous personal experiences with family members and people I know and it was just horrendous what happened to them. They ended up having to pay more for their insurance, they lost the insurance that they liked, etc. It was ridiculous so I really strongly support the actions to change the current system.
I also think that the whole thing about trying to build domestic jobs is also really important. I have young adult children and it’s been rough, economically, for them. They’re all college graduates and it’s been really difficult for them to make a living and find good jobs. And so I think that’s a reflection of where we’re at in our economy: it’s really not as good as it should be. When I was their age it was not this difficult to be a college graduate and support yourself financially. So the economic change is really needed.
The whole social part is probably the part that’s the most sensitive. The issues surrounding immigration is kind of a gray area, but I do think it’s a problem that we aren’t enforcing our own [immigration] laws. I agree with Trump’s stance on deporting illegal immigrants who are here causing problems (i.e. criminals). And I don’t understand why we’re putting up with that. But for those that aren’t causing problems, I think that we should just let them be.
But overall, I do think Trump is more compassionate and reasonable than the mainstream media makes him appear.
Q: Do you feel safe expressing your political views?
A: Because this is a very liberal area, it’s almost assumed that you have the same views as everyone else. I wouldn’t say I feel unsafe but definitely outnumbered or generalized. I don’t feel that discussing my political views is appropriate in school, but I do discuss it with some other teachers. I’m not a political activist but if it comes up then I’m definitely not hesitant.
A big concern for me is how partisan the media has become and that people are being misled because it’s easy to slant facts or to outright lie. And that concerns me, for our country. Because if you have a media that’s biased [towards conservatives], then you’re kind of at a disadvantage. I grew up in the 70s and 60s, during the whole move to challenge authority and challenge the status quo, and the foundation of doing that is having good information. Because if you don’t, then how can you make informed decisions?
At least from my perspective, being a conservative means you support restoring the freedom to individuals to make their own choices with good facts.
The true divider of the American people: Politics
Two conservative Dougherty students speak out about their views
We hold a conservative ideology and support President Donald J. Trump. After reading that sentence, did you immediately associate us with sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and other vilifying traits? Did you think of us less as people based on our political beliefs alone? If you knew us personally, but were unaware of our political stances, did learning this dramatically shift your view of us? Well, if you answered yes to any of those, it’s just more evidence of the extreme political divisions within our nation. But what is really the cause of the growing split of the American people? Ultimately, what is fueling this division is the lack of rational political discussion caused by political prejudices, a lack of true unbiased media and the hampering of free speech.
Political prejudices, especially against conservatives, are at an all-time high. It has become socially acceptable to belittle and berate President Trump and his supporters, something we have commonly witnessed from students at this school. Many well-known celebrities and athletes have also joined in this widespread opposition of the president. Of course, it is important that we, as citizens, hold our president accountable for all he does. President Trump certainly is not above criticism, and much of the criticism of his behavior is justified. However, the problem occurs when prejudices become so deeply rooted in people’s minds that they are no longer willing to listen to opposing viewpoints. This breakdown in communication has made reasonable debate a near impossibility.
The media also has played a part in these divisions. While the media is certainly not the enemy, as President Trump has suggested, it has not done an adequate job in fairly portraying him. The media has consistently portrayed Trump in an overly negative light, leading to his lashing out against them. A Harvard study on the media coverage of the two presidential candidates over the course of the 2016 election reported that Trump’s news coverage was negative 77 percent of the time. It is important to note that Hillary Clinton’s news coverage was negative 64 percent of the time, showing media bias against both candidates. As the study’s author, Thomas Patterson, put it, “The mainstream press highlights what’s wrong with politics without also telling us what’s right.” Now that Trump is in office, his media coverage has skyrocketed in an extremely negative manner. A study conducted by the Media Research Center found that in the first 30 days of the Trump presidency, the tone of Trump’s coverage was hostile 88 percent of the time from the “big three” cable news outlets: ABC, CBS and NBC. It also found that these networks focused attention to quotes and stories from outraged citizens, and devoted little coverage to Trump supporters. The media’s primary role should be to provide easy access to information for the population so that the public can form educated opinions and decisions. Opinionated pieces should take a backseat.
Finally, free speech, an integral process to a functioning democracy, has been under attack as of late. An obsession with political correctness and safe spaces has inhibited many from speaking out on controversial issues. Because of the fear of being labeled sexist, homophobic, racist or other dehumanizing terms, people tend to keep quiet about opinions, even those that are not logically considered offensive, so as to not suffer the wrath of intolerant liberals. For example, take the riots that took place in Berkeley, Calif. that occurred in response to famous right-wing speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos. Love him or hate him, Yiannopoulos, according to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, has the right to express his opinions and political beliefs and should not have been silenced by an intolerant mob seeking to censor the public discourse through acts of violence and intimidation. As the platitude goes, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote should be applied to the thinking of every person. We are not a society that should have to fear speaking what we believe — if we truly want to be tolerant, we should start with tolerating opinions, even those from conservative thinkers. This violence still has not calmed down, extending to anyone holding a conflicting opinion. An elderly man was attacked on Mar. 4, for attending a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley.Violence ensued and many people were bloodied and bruised, all because they were trying to exercise their freedom of speech. The phrase “punching Nazis” was coined on the internet after alt-right white nationalist speaker Richard Spencer was sucker-punched during an interview, and many glorified and praised this action against the “Nazi” — even though Spencer has explicitly rejected Nazism and fascism. The word “Nazi” was used by some to justify the violence carried out against a different political ideology. Promoting violence against people who do not share one’s political sentiments is not just morally wrong, but counterproductive.
Though we have pointed out multiple flaws found in assumptions about conservatism, we must acknowledge that flaws also exist within our own ideologies. However, the purpose of this article was not to change your political beliefs; rather, we wanted to dispel the notions often held against conservatives. Diversity of opinion is one of the things that has made America great. When differing political ideologies are viewed as enemies, politics becomes a competition that distracts from a government’s true purpose: to serve the people. George Washington, who explicitly warned against political parties in his farewell address, was able to make informed decisions because of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on his cabinet — two brilliant men with wildly different ideals.Liberalism should not be suppressed, but neither should conservatism. We aimed to address why America is so divided politically, and it really boils down to a lack of listening. What occurs in politics affects us all, and thus for the benefit of the people, differing political sides should not attempt to silence or disparage each other, but rather communicate and reason through tough matters. If both sides could rationally discuss matters, less hatred would be spread and no blood would be shed. However, change must come from within, at the individual level first. Be the person who is willing to listen. Be the person who uses logic and facts. Be the person who rejects irrationality and overreaction. And maybe, just maybe, politics would no longer be an area of repeated clash and conflict, but rather a space to discuss and find solutions to the real problems facing the country.