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ISSUE 117 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/7/2003

Beyond circumstances; Student finds fault with liberal ideology

By Julie Gunderson
Sports Editor

Friday, November 7, 2003

I didn’t always want to become a conservative. But what could I do? I grew up revering Reagan, the tax cut and limited government. I learned to loathe the Reverend, the welfare state and administrative bureaucrats before I was out of diapers. I was never taught that the earth was my mother or that true patriots burn the flag, spit on the Constitution and protest against the soldier who died for their freedom. Instead, I was a victim of circumstance. For heaven’s sakes, I was born white. And beyond that, I come from a modest middle-class family, lived in Omaha, Neb. my entire life and I attend church on a regular basis.

Of course I was doomed to become a Republican. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t put up a fight. There’s no better place than college to become that liberal you’ve always dreamed of being. And that’s exactly what I set out to do. From my first moments on campus, I was engaged in a journey of dizzying idealism, rejecting every preconceived notion that I had garnered since birth and spouting off about the government’s neglect of the poor, the need for socialized medicine, and the beleaguered state of women’s rights in this country.

Then Sept. 11 happened. I didn’t even bat an eye. Instead I soldiered on, forging neck-deep into liberal romanticism. I opposed U.S. action in Afghanistan with a fiery passion. Why? For no other reason than war is a human tragedy (a position that I maintain today, but now understand that choosing the course of appeasement in the face of terrorism is a far worse tragedy).

I didn’t wake up one day and say to myself, “I’ve had enough: I want to return to my comfortable, homey notions of conservatism.” No, it didn’t happen that way. Rather, it happened over lunch with a friend during my freshman year. I was in the middle of reciting another one of my professor’s scorching anti-American/anti-capitalism diatribes when I suddenly stopped myself mid-sentence. The words echoed in my head for a moment, and then for the first time I actually began listening to what I was saying. I found that I believed none of it.

No, America isn’t a country of evil. Nor is it a monstrous power bent on world domination – (that was Hitler and that was what our grandparents’ generation fought and defeated). Oh, and yes, hard-working Americans should be rewarded for their commitment and contributions to this country – not forced by our government to give up what they’ve earned.

Somewhere between ingesting the same mundane one-sided class lectures for the gazillionth time and reading the same equally biased texts, liberal indoctrination had taken hold. I was the victim, caught in the hallways of academia that once honored the ideals of truism and enlightenment but now insisted upon being an institution of stodgy liberalism. Suddenly what I feared happening to me the most – being a conservative my whole life because I didn’t know any better – was happening to me in reverse. I was becoming a liberal just because I wasn’t being taught any better. The effect of a classroom void of intellectual honesty is the stifling of political discourse.

It’s a disease rampant among liberal ideologues and one that I have encountered numerous times. For instance, I was surprised earlier this semester when I returned to my dorm to find two pro-choice flyers taped to my door. No big deal, right? Well, the kicker was that they were taped right over a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker and strategically placed right above a pamphlet espousing my own pro-life views. With a quick glance around at the other doors in the corridor, I noticed that mine had been singled out. I should have guessed that my mere presence as a conservative and the representation of conservative ideas was bound to offend. It’s a perfect illustration of the Left’s favorite tactic – self-denial. Not only do liberals deny themselves a chance to even consider that another side exists, they don’t even want to have to look at it. They would rather cover it up.

This concealment is evident whenever I strike up a casual conversation with a liberal, bringing up my opposing opinions. Most often they go on the offensive, attacking me for my beliefs instead of defending their own. Why? Because liberals are afraid to actually verbalize what it is they must defend. A liberal can’t come out and say that they want to raise your taxes, kill your children and destroy your country. They prefer to cover this up. And often, they refuse to admit it even to themselves.

No, I haven’t abandoned my liberal dreams entirely; I have just come to realize that most of them are riddled with hypocrisy.

I still believe in the cause of human rights; I just don’t believe that ignoring and setting aside the sufferings of others for your own political agenda is something to be admired.

I still embrace the feminists’ goals of equality; I just refuse to accept the fact that a woman’s right has to come at the expense of a child’s.

And I still adamantly support that the government should not abandon its most impoverished citizens; I just understand that giving them a job instead of a welfare check is a much better solution.

I am a conservative today, not because I reject liberalism out of spite, but because I recognize that I’ve gone beyond blind party affiliation and have been intellectually honest with myself. I applaud those who can say they’ve done the same – whether they agree or respectfully disagree with me.

Sports Editor Julie Gunderson is a junior from Omaha, Neb. She majors in integrative studies.

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