I first realized it wasn’t popular to be a conservative millennial in college, when I decided to tackle the issues of gay marriage and abortion in papers I wrote my freshman year.
I hope I would have the guts to do it all over again, but in reality, I’m not so sure. For a place that’s said to be filled with “safe spaces” that promote open-mindedness, college is a tough place for a conservative.
My College Republicans and I became like family. There weren’t many of us – maybe five at the core of our group. We were respected student leaders, or, as my husband would say, overachievers. We made conservative waves at a liberal arts college and, looking back now, I am so proud of those waves we made. We were respectful, but we didn’t back down if we believed we were being treated unfairly.
Now I find myself mentoring my younger cousin through the liberal college campus scene, and it’s ugly. She hears or sees many of the same blanket statements that I still see as a 20-something: if you aren’t supportive of gay marriage, you hate homosexuals; if you aren’t supportive of abortions, you’re either ignorant, or have your thoughts controlled by a male; if you aren’t supportive of affirmative action, or free tuition for illegal immigrants, you’re a racist; if you support Israel, you must hate Palestinians; if you watch Fox News, you must be uneducated. The list goes on and on.
It’s no surprise that when I was a senior in college, I struggled with the decision of whether or not I should list my White House Internship on my resume. It was an accomplishment, I was proud of, but I had heard comments about how interning for George W. Bush might not be considered an accomplishment. They obviously hadn’t heard him talk to a group of people in the West Wing about his love for this country and the people in it; how he prayed for us as a nation and made decisions based on all of the high-level information he had, and the countless prayers he said.
This year, I’ll turn 30, and it hasn’t gotten much easier. I can literally count on one hand how many conservative friends I have. Political dinner conversations make me cringe. I hesitate before I post anything on social media, because I think of the nasty comments that will ensue. In a way, it’s like high school – you want to be a part of the in crowd, and don’t want someone to dislike you, in this case, for your political opinions.
But then, this weekend it clicked.
I watched Glenn Beck’s CPAC speech, and I was reminded that as a conservative I am fighting for the values and principles of our Founding Fathers. As a Christian, I know those values and principles came from God. Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives to this country – they promised to protect each other’s rights and their freedom from the government.
Do these words ring a bell?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness… And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Personal Liberty. Individual Rights. Privacy. Religious Freedom. Every generation has a group of conservatives that keep these values and principals alive – and now, it’s our turn.
Wow. Representing views of our Founding Fathers and God – could there be a more important job? Suddenly, my awkward dinner conversations seem so insignificant. Is there really a Facebook comment that could make representing the founding fathers and God not worth it?
In a time when we have a socialist (a.k.a “democratic socialist”) running for president, our time is now. We have to stick together and we can’t be afraid to express our opinions, in a thoughtful and respectful manner (we don’t want to use the blanket statements or names that have been used against us). You may feel alone within your group of friends – whether you’re in college, or years removed, but you aren’t alone. A Gallop Poll shows we are holding fast to a socially conservative view, as we are overwhelmingly a pro-life generation.
Dana Perino, one of my most favorite people ever (you may know her as former President Bush’s press secretary), says conservatism can be summed up in three words - humility, gratitude and character. I can’t speak for her, but to me, these three words encompass great advice. We should embrace our (and others’) individuality, remember and remain grateful for all the opportunities our founding fathers (and our God!) have afforded us, and move forward remembering to always stay humble.
We, as conservative millennials have an opportunity to make big waves for the conservative movement in brand new ways – to harness our love of innovation and technology to spread the word and become ambassadors for our founding fathers. Let’s not be afraid of awkward conversation and blanket statements; rather let’s be passionate about our cause and make those founding fathers proud.
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