Conservatism runs deeper than easy labels

By Casey McIntyre

Being a high school student interested in politics, I have heard my fair share of misconceptions about people with conservative values. It is often assumed that conservatives are intolerant, racist, homophobic, gun-loving people, among quite a few other things.

I am a 16-year-old female conservative, and I fit none of these stereotypes, as well as nearly every other conservative I have discussed politics with.

Don’t get me wrong, nobody is perfect. There are some close-minded people in this world. However, those people exist as both liberals and conservatives.

Due to the overwhelming amount of negative comments I have heard about conservatism at Cedar Falls High School alone, I often feel the need to suppress my beliefs in class so I am not automatically categorized as “another deplorable conservative,” by other students. It is extremely inaccurate to stereotype conservatives as “intolerant” when in reality, they stand for the opposite.

1. Racist

Perhaps the most common stereotype for conservatives is that they are racist, as people assume they do not believe in immigration or racial equality. Most conservatives oppose affirmative action, leading some people to believe that conservatives want whites to be superior to minorities.

This could not be further from the truth.

Slavery could easily be argued by both liberals and conservatives as America’s biggest example of inequality.

Liberals believe that due to the history of slavery in America, it is harder for African Americans to succeed in today’s times as a minority, when they are much less powerful than whites. This belief is in no way invalid, but neither is the belief from the other end of the spectrum.

Conservatives believe that African Americans have proven to be capable of succeeding in America today without assistance from whites. There have been many instances of African American accomplishments, the most memorable being Barack Obama getting elected as the first African American president in the country’s history.

This does not mean racism is completely over, or ever will be in a social environment, but it means America has made tremendous progress. Economically however, due to the outstanding success and bravery shown by African Americans after a history of being seen as only ¾ of a human, conservatives truly believe that affirmative action is unnecessary and that we are all equal to one another, and therefore equally capable of success.

After all, the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Republican President Abraham Lincoln freed more than three million slaves and is still considered one of the Republican Party’s greatest victories. The same concept of equality applies to the assumption that conservatives are sexist, when they actually believe women are capable of doing anything men do without special benefits.

As for immigration, many people hear a conservative say the words “border control” and assume they mean cutting off immigration altogether. This is not true, and is commonly mistaken. Immigration is the basis of America, as the country is one big “melting pot.” The argument is not for or against immigrants coming to America, in general-It’s about coming legally rather than illegally. Adding forms of border control seems to some people to be a racist tactic conservatives use to keep minorities out of their territory. However, the goal isn’t to lock people out. The more diverse our country is, the better. Conservatives strive to encourage a legal path to citizenship by decreasing the availability of possible illegal entry ways into the states.

2. Homophobic

Throughout history, it was believed by nearly everyone that same-sex marriage was morally wrong. After a while, many became more comfortable with the idea. Due to conservatism being based on tradition, it took a while for same-sex marriage to be accepted.

Although there are still a lot of people who are unwilling to approve of the concept, the opposition of same-sex marriage. In 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized in America. This was a turning point for the LGBT community. In May 2016, the federal conservative party of Canada voted to remove the opposition of gay marriage from the conservative policy book, which shows an increase in LGBT acceptance for not only America, but other countries too.

I must admit, I am disappointed that conservatives are seen as homophobic to many people in the 21st century. Although nearly every single one of my conservative friends and I are completely supportive of LGBT rights, I can explain an argument against it.

Conservatism has generally gone hand and hand with Christianity. In the Bible, there are a few verses about homosexuality. One of them is Leviticus 18:22: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Because Christians follow the Bible, that means many conservatives follow it as well.

The argument against same-sex marriage is that it is a sin according to the Bible, leading Christian conservatives to feel uncomfortable legalizing it. However, the Bible verse Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This verse and many others suggests to many Christians that all sin is equal, leading them to believe there is no extra “punishment” for being part of the LGBT community. This has greatly contributed to the overall shift in the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Conservatives believe in individual liberty rather than federal government control, which is another reason many conservatives give their support to the LGBT communities rather than turn away. Today we live in the most tolerant America to ever exist, and it is only getting better day by day.

I do not think it is fair whatsoever to label conservatives as homophobic, when a large majority of them are in full support of LGBT rights. The First Amendment provides citizens with many types of freedom, which is one of the conservatism has strongly moved away from

best things about this country. The freedom to marry anyone you want is now promoted by many conservatives, not just liberals. Many countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, still follow government systems today that will systematically kill homosexual people. I admire the fact that our country is a place open to expression, and that many people can openly be who they truly are.

3. Gun Lovers

The last stereotype of conservatives I’ll address now is the “gun lover” label. Rather than gun-loving, conservatives are life-loving. Gun control has been a controversy for a long time. Liberals tend to believe in strict gun control, and many believe in outlawing guns in general. Conservatives tend to believe the opposite. The conservative argument against increased gun control is simple: Guns save lives. Many people believe that conservatives don’t want to prevent shootings, which is completely false.

Criminals are known for one common thing: breaking the law. Although it is disappointing, there are many ways to obtain guns illegally. By outlawing guns, America would create a community of unarmed law abiding citizens mixed with a few armed law breaking criminals. If law abiding citizens were legally allowed to be armed, it would be easier to stop the criminal, calling for fewer deaths in the long run. Conservatives desire safety.

The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights protects the right for people to legally be able own firearms if eligible. Amendments are not suggestions. They are basic freedoms given to Americans that allow individuality. The most desirable part of America is the freedom and rights given to the citizens that live in the country — often a reason many immigrants flee their country to live in the states. Abolishing the Second Amendment would contradict the country’s promise of rights and freedom. Even if conservative views do not apply to everyone, it is easy to understand where their arguments come from.

Although many people may not want to believe it, conservatives and liberals are more alike than they realize. They all want the same thing: a successful, tolerant, free country. The disagreement is how to go about it, not whether it should exist. Liberals believe in using government policies to help solve issues so opportunity is guaranteed, while conservatives believe in giving everyone a life of individual liberty and empowering people to solve issues by working hard, and in turn being rewarded for it. Neither approach is wrong, but they are both just very different.

I am a conservative, and I do not fit the stereotypes I am given. I, as well as an overwhelming amount of conservatives, desire to educate others on conservative beliefs. It is time to change the false assumptions made about conservative goals into accurate descriptions of what we stand for. Conservatism is a belief in freedom, success and happiness for all citizens regardless of their race, gender, political affiliation or anything else. The racist, sexist, homophobic and gun-loving label given to conservatives by others and echoed by mainstream media is inaccurate. Conservatives crave a country of opportunity for everyone. The Declaration of Independence says, “all men are created equal,” a statement we have not forgotten.

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