Opinion

The experience of a conservative on a liberal campus

Amid Facebook-shared articles, angst-ridden tweets and Women’s March protests, it has become obvious how the left feels about our recent presidential election. I remember feeling similarly in 2008 when Obama was elected. I was not happy either; I cried on election night, admittedly, but I think the time has come for us all to stop crying.

I do not think that crying solves much, but I think that intelligent discourse solves a lot more. I truly believe that if we listened to each other’s opinions without dishing out fiery comebacks, we would understand each other a lot more. People may not change their opinions, but we do not have to hate each other. Unfortunately, I do not think University of Miami faculty and students execute this concept very well.

On the University of Miami campus, the election backlash could be felt by students who encountered the protests and marches, or even the students whose professors could not make it out of bed the next morning for class. Especially as a political science student at UM, I had professors attempt to “explain” the election to us. I had guest speakers come in and voice their opinions, all the while assuming that all the students in the room were “with her.” I most certainly was not.

Many young Democrats feel that the new president is a liar and are concerned with his capability to lead our nation. I have friends who are black, Muslim or part of the LGBT community, and they are scared that Trump will threaten their treatment in America. I invite these people to share their feelings with me so I can discuss policies with them, rather than make passive aggressive Facebook posts. Instead of telling me to “delete you on Facebook if I support Trump,” let me tell you how I believe Trump will make America better for everyone, including people in these communities.

I hope that Trump will, for example, create more jobs that could benefit everyone and reform the inner cities, which prove to be challenging environments for the largely minority communities that inhabit them. I did not vote for Trump because I hate minorities. I voted for him because I love America, and America thrives with the help of minorities. Even if my friends do not miraculously become Trump supporters after talking with me, finding any common ground still feels like a victory.

While I usually disagree with the Democratic Party, I have admired its efforts to tolerate other opinions in the past. From my experiences on campus since the election and inauguration, however, I conclude that the UM campus has become a center for progressive ideals that do not mirror the tolerance of the party’s elder liberal counterparts. This phenomenon is not unique to Miami and has become an issue on campuses across America.

The first problem is the assumption on campuses by students and faculty alike that college students voted exclusively for Hillary and that the only exceptions to this rule are racists and bigots. When I tell people that I, a woman, voted for Donald Trump this past November, I usually get looks of disgust. No one waits for me to explain, and no one thinks this is because I believe in small government or dislike how Clinton has handled foreign affairs in her career. I am uneducated and racist, of course. Ironically, this exact condescension and alienation by Democrats is what cost them the election.

I refuse to be ashamed of my vote, which is why I have tried to be as vocal as possible on campus. During a 300-student lecture about the election, I raised my hand and admitted that I voted for Trump. It was not to gloat about my party’s win or to draw attention to myself. It was to let the other Republicans in the room know that they do not have to be silent on this campus. A girl that I had never met approached me after class and told me that I was brave for my actions.

So, how does it feel to be a Republican on campus since the election? Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes when I tell my friends about my vote, I feel them judging me, labeling me. Sometimes when I mention that I am a member of the University of Miami College Republicans, I receive dirty looks. When my friends tell me they voted for Clinton, I love to debate the issues, but it does not change our friendship in the end. My roommate has a picture glorifying Fidel Castro hanging next to her bed, but we manage to talk politics daily without killing each other. I challenge students of the other side of the aisle to reciprocate friendly debate, rather than jump to conclusions and miss out on a chance to challenge and exchange ideas.

Ashley Plotkin is a freshman majoring in political science and economics. 

February 7, 2017

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Ashley Plotkin


14 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The experience of a conservative on a liberal campus”

  1. MACK says:

    Though I personally did not vote for Trump this past election, I really admire your courage to stand by your convictions in spite of so many peers trying to guilt-trip you. Best of luck in your studies, and I hope UM can foster an environment in the future where more people like you, conservative, liberal, and everything in between, will be able to respectfully engage in meaningful political conversations.

  2. Jeff says:

    Great article, Ashley. I went to Miami in the early-90’s and avoided the leftist rap in the breezeway, but I’m sure it’s more boisterous and judgemental than ever. Most of my friends who were more liberal leaning at 18 and urged to “rock the vote,” started families, made a living, and ended up right of center. It’s hip to rile folks up on Facebook with buzzwords (e.g. white privilege) and blindly call those with opposing political views bigots, but a party that fosters entitlements and expanded government kills the ambition that made the country great. Stay true to yourself, and good luck, Ashley!

  3. Beth says:

    Boy Samantha, you must be some kind of mind reader! How about her bra size? Do you know that as well? How arrogant that you propose to know her what is in this author’s heart. It seems to me that your misguided “white guilt ” has clouded your judgement.

  4. Jess says:

    To add to your point Samantha, true friends are aware of and try to combat the suffering of their friends. One friend told me that he voted liberally because he knew that life under Trump could be difficult for me as a mixed gay woman. He’s fiscally conservative and generally holds conservative social views as well. Yet he abandoned that for the sake of his friend. Though he is a conservative, he plans to continue to vote liberally for my sake and the sake of others until the conservatives begin treating all of us equally.
    Unless you’re willing to do what my friend did, don’t use your diverse friendships as signs of how aware and accepting you are.

  5. ‘Minorities voted in record rates against my candidate (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-polarization-analysis-idUSKBN13I10B), but they should listen to me explain why they’re all wrong in fearing for their rights!’

    Why should LGBT and minority students quietly listen to your justification for the stripping away of their rights?

    You voted for a bigoted demagogue and expect not to be judged? You voted for a man who will ruin the lives of millions of people, including the LGBT and minority friends you claim to have.

    Also, so sad about you crying over Obama! Please share with us how he ruined your life with his Muslim socialism.

  6. Lefty Egghead says:

    Ashley- how old were you when President Obama got elected in 2008? 10 years old? With all due respect I doubt you were independently politicized at this tender age. If your conservative worldview has been fixed from early childhood, I’m not sure you’re the prototype for open-minded thinking.

  7. Samantha Reeds says:

    Ashley, you clearly do not understand or bother to empathize with individuals who did not vote for Donald Trump. I read your piece twice to ensure that I comprehended your opinions and concluded that your holistic view is hypocritical.

    There is a difference between having “minority friends” where you accept the relationship between each other, and abiding by your “minority friends'”, and their community’s rights, and fair existence within this country.

    You can make the excuse that you voted for Donald Trump to increase jobs or because you love America, but YOU choose your love for the very country that was built by the blood of your “minority friends'” ancestors. Sure your a woman, I am too. Sure your light skinned, I am too. Your the typical college student who would vote for Trump, I am too but did not. You failed to realize your White privilege and because of it African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics…all minority groups you decide to label with your privilege are suffering. I know nothing of your background, but I know for fact most individuals who voted for Trump were not effected by the ban on Muslims like my best friend, or effected by Standing Rock or need the ACA. This list can go on.

    Understand your privilege and then we can start a “conversation” on your “liberal campus”.

  8. Jess says:

    Even if you personally don’t hate minority groups, you’ve voted for a man that has already acted against minorities and likely will continue to try to do so. I guess that just goes to show that liberals and conservatives can have very different priorities. You voted for him because, as a conservative, you “love America.” I didn’t vote for him because I value equality too much to risk supporting him. So far his actions seem to have validated my fears.
    Despite all he’s done and said so far, I hope he does well. If he does well, we all do well. Still, if he falls short of your expectations, please vote for someone else in four years (doesn’t have to be a liberal!). Crossing party lines may feel like a betrayal, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to do what is right for the country. If he turns out to be the best option four years from now, I will vote for him, but for now I find that future hard to imagine.

  9. Anne small says:

    Wonderful insightful article. It gives this country hope,That there are still free thinking young people,Who have the ability to see the big picture .

  10. Sid says:

    William – in todays world of pin heads and pseudointellectuals, there is often a great void of effective communication and a screaming need for plain talk.
    When I read Ashley’s piece, I found it well thought out and to the point of her opinion, which as you pointed out after all it is an opinion piece.
    If polished high-brow commentary is your specialty, perhaps you should restrict yourself to the likes of George Will. He also calls himself a conservative.

  11. Lizbeth says:

    I agree Roy!

  12. Roy says:

    Excellent piece. I believe this reflects the frustations of many conservatives. Too often conservatives are maligned by inaccurate and misleading depictions by the media. Well done by Ashley to write this piece. On a side note, William (commenter below) displays such hateful vitriol towards a well written piece that I assume he really is not a conservative but a snowflake pretending to be.

  13. Lizbeth says:

    The one thing that you are correct about William is that this is an OPINION piece, therefore your critique is invalid. Perhaps you are the reason that conservatives receive so much backlash.

  14. William says:

    Was this run by an editor? Please, for the sake of your potential future career in politics and/or economics, learn to write well. By this I mean fix your sentence structure and back up your arguments with concrete facts. While this is an opinion piece and not an actual editorial, it is still critical to have more substance when presenting your opinions. People like you are the reason why us conservatives receive so much backlash….

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