“If you’re a Republican, are you rich?” No.
“If you’re a Republican, are you super religious?” No.
“If you’re a Republican, are you really voting for Trump?” Hard pass.
These are just a few of the questions I have heard from my peers when I admit that I’m a Republican, and my answers definitely raised a few eyebrows.
I should clarify how I came to identify myself as a moderate Republican. I have always been drawn to politicians who support small government because I believe that the government should mostly stay out of a citizen’s personal life. This belief led me to be more moderate in social policies such as abortion and marriage equality, however, it has also led me to agree with more conservative economic and fiscal policies such as maintaining or lowering taxes.
It did not come as a surprise to me when I started school at Boston University that I would be surrounded by a heavily liberal population. I grew up just outside of the city in Arlington, where the Young Democrats outnumbered the Young Republicans by about 50 to one, so, I have gotten used to having the unpopular opinion. However, I did not expect that I would feel so uncomfortable discussing my political views with people in college, where I hoped that people would be more accepting and more willing to hear me out.
Ironically enough, as a political science student, I have experienced little bias against Republicans in the classroom. In general, I feel that the professors at BU, although mostly registered Democrats, do a relatively good job of keeping their political views out of the classroom. However, I do occasionally get the sense from some students that conservative opinions are not welcome. For example, my class was discussing policing and racial profiling when one student defended police officers’ conduct, and another student behind me sniggered, “Damn, these Republicans are idiots.” I never felt comfortable speaking up about anything in that class for the rest of the semester because I was constantly worried that someone might be saying something similar about me. Furthermore, outside of the classroom, I hardly ever feel comfortable talking about my political views at all or often expressing my support for Republicans with something as little as a laptop sticker.
I often feel uncomfortable expressing my conservative opinion in college because there is such a prevalent negative stigma surrounding the Republican party, especially in a highly liberal campus like Boston University. College should be a safe space where people can feel comfortable exploring and discussing anything about themselves and their interests. Furthermore, universities tend to advertise themselves as places where the population is open-minded and willing to listen to all opinions, regardless of political affiliation. At the same time, the college experience is also dominated by social acceptance and making friends. Therefore, it becomes a challenge for young conservatives to speak up on an outspoken, liberal campus because there is a heavily negative view of Republicans.
Whether it’s about a person’s political views or even their gender, race, or sexuality, the main problem with our society is that we overgeneralize. Being a Republican is something I am very proud of, but the fact that people automatically assume that I am a gun-toting, conservative anti-feminist, for example, is incredibly frustrating. I hate that people tend to automatically associate me with very controversial and often very conservative Republicans such as Donald Trump or even television host, Tomi Lahren, when I tend to identify myself as someone who likes more moderate figures such as Governor Charlie Baker or Ohio Governor John Kasich. Like any other group that gets stereotyped, all Republicans are unfortunately represented by those who get the most media attention. To be honest, against popular belief, this makes me more sympathetic towards others who get frequently stereotyped. Therefore, the one thing I ask of my peers is to please not generalize me for my unpopular opinion, because I do not generalize you for yours.