I Guess That’s What I Am

Howdy, kids! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been crazy busy this semester, but I have a few thoughts I decided I wanted to share in the wake of all the madness of the past months. I’m writing on an iPad here, so bear with me.

On Tuesday night, I found myself rooting for someone I never thought I’d be rooting for, and was even more surprised when it started to look like that person would win. My roommate — let’s call him “Brett” — and I sat on the couch, pizza rolls and iced coffee in hand, as we quaked in anticipation watching the coverage of the election on one screen and Google’s electoral results on the other. We had already begun to see the outcry and uproar over what was looking like a red sweep on social media even before the results were final, and we took two very different approaches to addressing it: that of a hopeful optimist who hoped everyone could come together with a sense of unity following the final result, and that of a cynical conservative.

A few moments after it was an all-but-final result, Brett took to Facebook to post a message of relative positivity. To paraphrase, it effectively amounted to: “So Donald Trump’s gonna be our next president. Cool. Can I get back to my jazz now?” (A music major, you see.) It didn’t take long before he got his first reply: “Easy for you to say, as a white man.” After a number of similarly ugly responses, he attempted to douse some of the flames with another post– one with even more positivity– assuring his friends that, no, Donald Trump is not “literally Hitler,” and the sun would still come out tomorrow regardless of who won. Of course, this was followed yet again by a string of angry replies, admonishing him for his privilege and telling him to delete the posts. He was shocked by how quick they all were to turn on him. I wasn’t. 

It was at this point that I recognized a pivotal moment for Brett’s political life. Brett calls himself a liberal (nobody’s perfect), but is definitely more conservative-leaning than most (for which I take some credit). He’s pro-gay marriage, pro-legalization, pro-choice, and pro-gun control (all of these to varying degrees, I’d hate to misrepresent his beliefs), but we are able to bond over a mutual love of capitalism, hatred of feminism and social justice, and knowledge that Hillary is the worst thing for this country. Needless to say, he’s far more left-leaning than conservative old me, but he’s beginning to make the fundamental realization that all conservatives make.

I learned this in tenth grade, in part from my experiences on Tumblr, and in part from my interactions with my classmates. The simple fact is that it’s very difficult, nigh impossible these days, to just be sort of liberal. You can’t only agree with them on some points and think they’re wrong on others, and still be accepted by them. You’re not allowed to be a feminist and criticize their hatred of men. You can’t be pro-choice but think abortion is morally wrong. You have to be all in. I tried to make friends with liberals over our mutual respect for women, our love of country, or a general sense of compassion for our fellow man, but once I realized they all took issue with my usage of the phrase “fellow man,” I realized it was probably a lost cause.

To the left, if you’re not their friend on something, you’re their enemy on everything. They looked at me like a villain because I thought perhaps the wage gap wasn’t real, they vilified me for having the gall to value unborn lives, and they assumed that because I fought them on one thing, I’d fight them on everything. So now, I do. You want me to be your enemy? Fine.

This is the transition I realized Brett was about to go through. He’s not entirely a liberal, so he’s not welcome in their ranks. Meanwhile, his good friend who’s a conservative welcomes him to his side of the fight with open arms, despite the many things on which we disagree. I can recognize the good in someone amidst discrepancies, and the left can’t. He witnessed this when the only people who came to his aide were the so-called “intolerant” people who disagree with him on most things, and far more than anyone attacking him.

Brett went to bed hours before me, because I was staying up until Trump was assured victory. As he walked off to his room, he looked back and said, “I still can’t believe how quick they all were to jump down my throat.” 

I responded, “I can. Welcome to the Republican Party.”