Throughout my college years, I never cared for politics much. I always knew the talking points, but never thought I could handle a debate with a true politi-head. My first time voting, I was 20 and jumped on the “first black president” bandwagon to claim victory over the bigot republicans we all so deeply despised .
At the age of 22, I moved to Armenia. I lived there for 3 years, volunteered with adults with developmental disabilities in a small village outside the capital, Yerevan. Those 3 years transformed my political alliance. I arrived in Armenia despising the American government and the country as a whole for being a greedy, corrupt oppressor until I saw true corruption and greed by oppressive governments.
I recall elections were taking place one year in Armenia. Think American elections are rigged? People there were literally being thrown in the backs of unmarked KGB vehicles and protestors were never again. I came back to America, kissing the ground and elated to be in a real democracy again.
As I returned to the states, I returned to the classroom. With my newfound patriotism, I was ready to listen to a new professor that challenged my long-held liberal beliefs, taught to me in my high school and my earlier college career. He told the class “I want you to read something different than what you’re used to reading, something you may have never heard before.”
He had us read Still the Best Hope by Dennis Prager. This book considered Americanism, Islamism, and Leftism and discussed these three ideologies. It shattered everything I knew to be true. I had never heard conservative ideas before that book, only that those who believed in them were supposed to be the “bad guys” in politics. That book began my slow transition to conservatism.
I began to research things independent of a left-leaning lens, and I began to realize how much I disagreed with everything I had previously believed.
The point of my short story is for those who identify as liberals, leftists, and independents to challenge what you think you know. Many people assume that because I identify as conservative, I hate people if they aren’t like myself. The misconception that conservatives are Bible thumping, homosexual hating, overall wearing, bigots is a stereotype and I don’t think the left allows for any civil discourse.
The left has truly dehumanized us as conservatives and removed our experience from the platform of mainstream conversation. We are immediately shut down in classrooms and written off in discussions when the dirty “c” word comes up. To those that call themselves open-minded, I urge you to read the opposing side. If anything, you will strengthen your argument to make it stronger, or who knows, your beliefs may even change.