Guest Column: Being a Republican on a college campus
Whenever people ask me what I believe in, I usually sidestep the question or try to vet the person asking so I know it’s safe to answer with the truth: Republican.
Otherwise, there is a significant chance that I will be labeled racist, sexist or just a privileged white male who can’t have an opinion on anything because I have not experienced societal discrimination or oppression like they have.
Viewpoint discrimination is the common experience of Republicans on college campuses. In class, when asked for their opinion on a topic, Republicans sometimes give what they think is the leftist answer or they phrase their actual opinion in an alternate viewpoint that they would never agree with.
This is usually out of fear of being targeted by a mob in the class or having a negative relationship with the professor.
Republicans’ hesitancy to express their beliefs is because we all know that our ideas are considered toxic to the left. There is an attempt by many to push mainstream Republican thoughts and ideas outside of the Overton Window, the range of ideas seen as acceptable in public discourse.
This is why most Republicans have experienced being called a Nazi, a fascist or a white supremacist on campus, even though we find all those labels and their associated ideas to be evil and completely unacceptable.
Since large segments of the left have pushed most ideas to the right of mainstream Republicans and some Democrats outside of the window of acceptable discourse, they have created an environment in which nearly all ideas that they disagree with are akin to Nazism.
Originally, in American thought circles and debate, ideas such as Nazism and Communism were considered outside the Overton Window, which means they are so radical they aren’t worth giving a platform to speak or debate.
Now that large segments of the left try to push mainstream Republican thought outside of the Overton Window, many can’t distinguish between Nazi rhetoric and basic Republican ideas on capitalism, individualism and self-determination.
The left’s attempt to declare mainstream Republican thought as radical and evil encourages people to engage in unnecessary behavior toward the right, such as creating Twitter outrage mobs.
Many Republicans on campus feel that just by sharing their beliefs or disagreeing with a feminist, there can be serious social consequences for them in or outside of class.
I know many people reading this will shrug this off and say this is an over-privileged white man complaining about how oppressed Republicans are on campus when he has never experienced real oppression. He has never had to live with the consequences of his ancestors being slaves. Who is he to lecture us about discrimination?
The answer is, you’re right. I am not oppressed, and neither are you.
Republicans believe in the basic founding ideas that have made the United States the greatest and most prosperous nation on the planet. We believe in the rights of life, liberty and property. We believe in capitalism and free markets. We believe the person who best knows how to spend your money is yourself, not the government.
We believe you are responsible for your own life and the greatest minority is the individual. We believe in self-determination and that you have a right to equal opportunity, not equal outcome. The United States has all of these things, and you have the ability to be and do almost whatever you want.
Mainstream Republican thought is about empowering the individual, not the group. Here lies the central problem for the left and why they attempt to push these ideas outside the Overton Window.
Basic Republican ideas are in direct contrast with intersectionality and the idea that the group trumps the individual. When we say that you are responsible for yourself and not your group, according to intersectionality, we are actually attacking your identity, so we must have an ulterior motive and secretly be racist or sexist. The truth is, we’re not.
This is why Republicans feel uncomfortable on campus. However, we are not ashamed.
We believe our ideas are correct, and we will push them when we can. That’s why the first College Republicans meeting had approximately 50 people in attendance. There are many of us on campus, and we do have a presence. The biggest thing we want from people who disagree with us is just to be civil and show some respect. We disagree with you, but we still respect you.
John Douglas can be reached at [email protected]