Why my association with the conservative party has become my scarlet letter

I am a political anomaly. I am a first generation, Cuban-Egyptian female college student living in southern California who works minimum wage jobs. By every available statistic I should be voting blue all the way down the ballot. 

One rather large reason that is not the case happens to be my religion: I am a staunch follower of Christ. When looking at the party platforms, it is clear, to me,  that the conservative political agenda better aligns with these beliefs especially on issues such as abortion and support of the free excersice clause. Once again, this is my view.

Ever since I understood what each party believed in, I knew where I stood. I want a small government that will not interfere with my life or what decisions I can make. I stand for the Constitution and the flag. I believe in individual rights, I am pro-life, anti-death penalty and I tend to believe in the strength of the traditional nuclear family. I stand firm behind the idea that America is the greatest social experiment that has ever been started and yet still has quite a long way to go to fulfilling its founding promise, but gets closer every day. This makes me a conservative, or lately more libertarian. 

I want to say that all of these opinions are subject to change, as I am a 19-year old with an ever developing mind and a news cycle that changes by the minute. 

However, I could not possibly begin to tell you the fear that arises within me when I title myself a conservative. After being attacked with words that ate at my soul for expressing my pro-life beliefs on Twitter, I completely stopped posting anything on the app for quite some time. But this marks the end of that. 

I am a Christian, conservative woman, and I will voice my beliefs, because in a growing society, understanding one another is integral. Listening to each other and learning how to live together and in between the disagreements is what is important. 

So am I “not a true woman?” No. I believe a woman and a man are to get married and start a family if they so choose. I believe that a man should be the head of his family too. But I am also a political science, journalism and honors humanities major, and if those degrees don’t tell you, I do plan to make something of myself. I want to be my husband’s partner. I want to be equal. I do not need special treatment. 

Am I against racial equality?  No. One of the most important things from the Bible comes from Genesis 1:27 (NIV), “So God created mankind in His own image.” Because of that, every man, woman and child deserves the chance and the right to live out the eternal principles in our founding documents: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in America, a chance at success. Your skin color should not automatically disqualify you from that, or anything else. The strive for racial equality is one of the most important battles we will ever fight. While I do not think that means destroying systems or institutions, it does mean recognizing where the system needs modifying. 

As I write those two beliefs and this piece as a whole, I realize that being the opinion editor and having an obvious political bias seems conflicting. That being said, I recognize and admit my bias and acknowledge that nothing has taught me more about the importance of listening to all sides of a conversation before making your judgement. I have never been such a strong supporter of the first amendment, applied equally for every voice, as I am now. That goes for my section as well.

Why am I saying all of this? Because over the years I’ve known people for months before finding out they were also conservative because they were afraid to admit it.

While on Twitter I can’t suggest that I think a baby’s life is worth saving without being told I deserve to die. African American’s are called “Uncle Tom” if they dare stray from the political left.

While talking with some professors my opinion is completely invalidated without so much as a word because I support our president and do not fall in line with their beliefs. 

But disagreement breeds compromise. 

So be careful. Be careful of the echo chamber that you are beginning to surround yourself with.

We are going to become no better than our parents if we continue to only listen to our side of the conversation and leave half of the country out. Remember, conversations are started by listening first. 

I combat the echo chamber by following almost every leader from both sides of the political aisle on social media. I want to understand where they are coming from. Because of that, I don’t fit into some voting block mold. I am not a part of the “woman” vote, the “parents who were immigrants” vote, the “latina” vote. You can’t buy me with political tricks. 

I do not know many people who are my age and have strong political leaning towards the right; most of my friends fall on the opposing side of the spectrum. So how are we friends? 

That is my point. The word conservative doesn’t define me. Believe it or not, there is more to me than the political beliefs I hold or the president I support.

However, the word “conservative” says enough to some. It labels me a racist, sexist, bigoted homophobe and tosses me out with the rest. But show me a racist? I will be the first to stand against the action with you. Find me a sexist law in the books? I will stand in petition until the day it is justified. 

I get it. The political divide today is stronger than ever. If me being a conservative is enough for you to not want to know me, then I am sorry we won’t have the chance to meet. I am sorry that I will not get the chance to pick your brain about why you believe what you do, and you will not hear another point of view. 

But before you judge someone based on their political party, think about the chances that you are missing out on. Think about the person you are not getting to know. Think about the beliefs you could be making stronger by challenging them. This goes for both sides. 

We need to start thinking about the fact that there is a person behind the political association. There is a person with emotions, feelings and a hope for a better America. Just because they want to go about it a different way does not make them less worthy of being heard. If we root out people because of what they believe, we can kiss reconciliation towards a better nation goodbye. 

So, I will wear my party with a badge of honor because I have good reason for standing on the side I do. Ask me about it, and I would love to share. But stop making assumptions. Stop “canceling people” because of one idea they had. Look at me for me. I am more than just a woman. I am more than my ethnicity. I am more than just a conservative. I am more than my party.