I’m not well versed enough to understand or even know the differences between every party, every platform, every issue, but I know that both my parents consider themselves Republican and consistently vote as such, while I now consistently vote Democrat, though I think I am more of what’s considered a liberal.
“Nothing sobers and reforms him like a…liberal education.”
Case in point — I took the Pew Research Center’s political typology quiz, and this is the result I received:
Quiz instructions state, “you may partly agree with both statements, or feel that neither quite describes your view. That’s OK. In those cases, pick the answer that comes closest to your view, even if it isn’t exactly right.”
So that’s what I did, and these are some of the views I chose that I felt I most closely agreed with:
- Racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days, and we need to do more for equal rights
- Homosexuality should be accepted by society
- Stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth it
- Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t stretch far enough for them to live decently
- Immigrants strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents
Unfortunately, I’m certain that most, if not all, of these views are ones that my family would disagree with.
I turned 18 in time for the 2012 presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, though for some reason I feel like I was more invested in the 2008 election and I thought I voted for John McCain before realizing that that’s not possible because I was too young to vote. So I came to the conclusion that it was Romney I voted for — and the reason I did so was because my mother told me to.
That’s who she was voting for. I think we both voted straight Republican.
I didn’t know anything about either candidate or his platform. All I knew was the anti-Obama and anti-Democrat rhetoric that my entire family — parents, grandparents, cousins — have been spewing my entire life.
I had never even considered anything else.
One non-political topic that my father and I have not always seen eye to eye on is my husband.
I think my dad has come a long way now, and I appreciate every effort he’s made. It’s taken a lot for him to reach the point he is at, and I appreciate and respect that.
But I believe one reason that my dad didn’t always agree with my choice of boyfriend was because he thought that he so negatively influenced my political views as to make them completely different from how I was raised and what I had been taught.
“We’re trying to guide you in the right direction,” my dad often said — never when I was growing up, but over the past several years when we would have these discussions that went nowhere.
The more I ruminated on that statement, the more I hated it.
Don’t get me wrong — I will always appreciate my family’s love and concern for me, and their desire to help me be successful. But I suppose I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.
It took me a long time to realize that Dad and I have very different ideas of what “the right direction” is.
I once shared an environmental op-ed from the University of Houston’s student newspaper The Cougar to Facebook and my dad read it. I don’t remember what it said exactly, and I don’t have that Facebook profile anymore. But somebody left a comment on it, and Dad wrote back to them, “She needs to graduate and get away from that liberal atmosphere.”
Considering that college was never not an option for me, he paid for my education, and was furious after reading a politically motivated blog post I had written which I think he misconstrued as my saying that getting an education was a waste of my time — I find his comment somewhat ironic.
“‘Our professional men are lamed and hampered by that partial knowledge, which is the most dangerous form of ignorance,’ [Woodrow Wilson] said. He condemned ‘the empiric’—the person whose education was narrowly empirical rather than broadly liberal—as ‘the natural enemy of society’ and declared it ‘imperative that everything should be done, everything risked, to get rid of him. Nothing sobers and reforms him like a…liberal education.’”
— The Gilded Age by Alan Axelrod
The University of Houston didn’t tell me what to think or what to believe. Neither did my husband.
What they did do is open my mind to questioning what I’d grown up with, and offer me different points of view I’d never given any thought to.
It took me a long time to realize that my parents and I have different views on what’s right for me.
I don’t understand how good people — like my parents, I’d like to say, and like my husband’s parents — can hold some of the views they do.
I don’t understand how anybody can believe that homosexuality is wrong and should be discouraged, when fundamentally, Marcos and Julian’s relationship was not any different than mine and Matt’s.
I don’t understand how hardworking people, like my dad, can complain about the government taking too much money to support welfare programs for those who don’t want to work — without knowing people’s stories because that’s not necessarily true — and, for example, Social Security is a welfare program and it goes to support my grandparents, and others like them who need it.
I just can’t understand the lack of empathy for other people that I perceive when I hear those kinds of viewpoints.
I’m not here to sway anyone politically, to bash a political party or a presidential candidate, but I’ve never been able to understand how people I love and people I’m related to can support anybody that so apparently seems to lack empathy.
Though I suppose if they’re all lacking in that, then that’s what they feel they have in common and that’s where that support is grounded.
I never set out to become a Republican, a Democrat or a liberal. After the requisite government class in high school, I never studied politics. Though I have taken to voting the past two times (though I still regret not voting in 2016), I don’t believe in politics, and I likely never will.
But I think I arrived at this point because I want something different than, say, a tax cut or less government. I don’t necessarily want higher taxes or more government, either.
I just want something better. Something better for more than just me.