Why I don’t want to be a Republican
Sometimes, I don’t want to be a Republican. This has nothing to do with my personal beliefs: I am someone who is conservative, I am the secretary for the Rice University College Republicans and I volunteer on the Dan Crenshaw campaign. I’m even voting in the Republican primary this spring. Before I go any further, let me clear a few things up. Despite the stereotypes I often hear, I am not racist, I don’t hate poor people and I don’t believe Russia should pick our next president. Rather, I’m more of a libertarian, keep-the-government-out-of-my-life, hard-work-brings-success Republican. However, the fact that I had to clear those things up is why I have trouble expressing my beliefs.
On this campus, it is hard to be a Republican. When walking to the College Republicans’ lunch with my friends, I feel the need to talk in a whisper, so nobody overhears me. When political issues come up in my classes, I don’t want to pitch in. When conversations arise in my college about various policies, I feel like I shouldn’t contribute. And these concerns aren’t without basis. In high school, I faced these same fears. Out of my friends, I was one of the only Republicans, and this led to a lot of backlash: being yelled at for supposedly not believing in climate change and being told I wanted poor people to have cancer because I don’t believe in healthcare for all. I believe in climate change and don’t like cancer; I just don’t believe the government should be that involved in private industry. I hoped that coming to Rice, where people are generally more accepting, I would face less of this. And while this is the case among my friends who know me well, nothing has changed during my interactions with most people. This lack of open-mindedness was exemplified for me the other day. Before one of my classes, I mentioned to an acquaintance that I would be volunteering on the Crenshaw campaign, thinking nothing of it. After, I got a harsh reaction: They turned away from me and did not talk to me for the rest of the class. I could have understood a reaction like, “I didn’t know that was your political leaning, can we talk about that?” Even, “Oh, you’re a Republican? I don’t agree with that at all,” would have been reasonable, and would have led me to explain my beliefs. But complete silence? To their benefit, they later apologized, we talked, and everything is good now. But that interaction hurt.
However, I do understand their reaction. The stereotype of a Republican comes largely from how the media portrays the party, and how the party in its current state portrays itself. Republicans can be seen as racist, inconsiderate and cold-hearted, and this belief is not completely without reason. The Democratic party has done a great job branding themselves as the party that wants to help people and Republicans as the opposite, an argument the Republicans are yet to oppose. But I would like to do that now. The reason that I’m a Republican is not that I don’t care about people, but because I believe in people’s ability to succeed on their own. I believe that you know how to spend and save your own money and that hard work still can lead to success. I don’t believe in a border wall, I believe in more transparency in our government and I believe in working toward green energy. With this in mind, I ask two things. First, please don’t judge me for my beliefs. Second, and more importantly, when you’re discussing politics with people, don’t just ask them how they feel. Ask them why and listen. You might just be surprised by what people have to say.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.