I like to think that I reached my own political conclusions through research, asking questions, and always reading both sides of a story. However, I am always surprised to discover that it’s actually because I’m a rich evil religious zealot and everything that’s wrong with America (which, apparently, is a lot). That’s right. I’m a conservative.
This has been especially rampant with the upcoming elections drawing opinions from every corner of social media. So, here are five things I hear at every party, on every Facebook post, and in every comment section when my personal and political beliefs come up.
- “What? I can’t believe you’re a conservative!”
I know, it’s crazy. Here I am, liking the same TV shows, cult movies, and Pink Floyd albums as you, but this whole time I was secretly working for a sinister movement that aims to push elderly people and take candy from babies. It’s tough to believe that sometimes conservatives don’t have horns growing out of their heads like you were told. It makes them so much harder to spot. Especially when they get all your cultural inside humor and often make jokes of their own. You may have thought you’d be able to recognize conservatives by the Bible quotes they yell in all CAPS on peoples’ statuses, but that wasn’t the case here. I’m just like you. I understand if you feel betrayed.
- “You’re probably brainwashed.”
Well, I guess “I’m not brainwashed” is exactly what a brainwashed person might say, so I won’t use that out. Instead, I usually ask people to elaborate on exactly who brainwashed me and how.
The first suspects are always my parents (hi, guys!). Well, sure, when they’re not sacrificing lambs to the slaughter of a zealous God, they do like to force me to recite conservative edicts so that I may never stray from their path. But mostly, we just debate and discuss. They ask me questions, I tell them what I think, and they encourage me to find backing and reasoning for my beliefs. They have never accepted “Because my teacher/newspaper/friend said so!” as a reason to believe in something. They have always expected me to support my beliefs and never pushed their own on me. Sometimes we see eye to eye, sometimes we don’t.
So, maybe it’s my schooling. My San Francisco-brand liberal public school schooling. Well, while my schooling did contribute to my political beliefs, it was not through brainwashing, but usually through my rejection of the ideas I saw and heard. Try again. I’ll be here.
- “Why do you hate poor/Black/immigrant/atheist people?”
Look, unless you’re Lena Dunham, I probably don’t hate you. I hate very few people in the world. I don’t even hate some of the people I really really should hate, like Nazis and terrorists. That’s not because I like them, it’s just that I know that humans aren’t simplistic beings and we’re usually more than just evil or good. And because humans aren’t just creatures of binary emotions, it’s possible that I don’t just love or hate something. Sometimes, I disagree or am disappointed with someone. I experience frustration, confusion, and anger just like everyone else. Other times, my own beliefs don’t line up with theirs and I want to have a discussion to better understand why that is.
But oftentimes if I want to discuss something, it gets distilled down to “She hates him/her/it/that!” and I end up having to defend my very right to think. So, no, I don’t hate whoever you think I hate, but I do hate that question.
- “But why?”
If you were hoping to hear “I’m a conservative because Jesus told me to be,” then you will be disappointed.
My political and personal opinions don’t just stop at how I feel about prostitution or legalizing drugs. It comes down to how I see the world. As I mentioned, I think people are complex creatures. They may be selfish because they care about their own interests first, and I’m ok with that, because they’re also capable of great acts of charity and kindness and gratitude. I am under no delusion that people are perfect and I believe in a system that accounts for our mistakes and bad decisions. I also believe that we need to own up to those mistakes and bad decisions when we make them.
I like tradition and I am weary of change and risks, unless those risks are calculated. For example, I’m less likely to snort a kilo of cocaine for the hell of it because I don’t know what will happen and don’t think that’s a risk worth taking. But I will risk the cost of college tuition or a down payment on a house or an initial investment in my own business, because I have calculated those risks and think that they’re worth it.
I use this basis to generate opinions on everything from abortion to Zika virus. When faced with a new issue, I put it through my meat grinder of personal values and see what comes out. I do not consult a sinister cabal of oil tycoons and dictators.
- “But you’re a woman/Jew/immigrant/other ‘victim’ type! How can you be a conservative?”
I have a brain and being any of the above doesn’t preclude me from using it. I also don’t see those qualities as being detractors. I am not who I am despite them but because of them. Suggesting that I am less of a woman or less sympathetic to immigrants because of my political beliefs suggests that you think your idea of what a woman or an immigrant should be is the only correct one and that we’re not allowed opinions of our own about who we are. No, thanks. I’ll make up my own mind about what defines me and how I define myself.
At least until my ominous, greedy cabal updates the definitions.
Tatiana Sundeyeva-Orozco has gotten into the terrible habit of thinking too much about everything. She enjoys fantasizing about traveling, compulsively buying literature, laughing at her own puns, and consuming anything and everything that can be found in a bakery. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she got a degree in English. She can be found celebrating awesome female friendships on LadyBromance.com.
By Tatiana Sundeyeva-Orozco