The Silenced Majority: Politics and Dissent

No one can hide from the swarm of emotions surrounding this election.

On November 8th, people had to face a new daily reality: fear.

I am a millennial conservative. I am a 20 year old, middle-class, white woman who was born and raised in Southwest Virginia. Minority means something different in my case. College-age conservatives are few and far between, but I belong to a group of young conservatives who fear the direction our country has been taking.

According to the election map for 18-25 year olds, Donald Trump would have won merely five states if it were up to young people alone.

On Friday afternoon, Chancellor Henry along with college professors and staff hosted an open forum for post-election “discussion.” People crowded into the Chapel to hear what others had to say. I was one of the very few conservatives in that room.

The most common speaking point seemed to be fear: fear of revoked political and social rights, fear of the economy and fear of what direction our country is taking.

The thing is, I also felt fear. I was afraid to express my political views for fear of being ridiculed. Someone in the meeting mentioned “being looked down upon by those who feel smarter.” This is exactly how I felt all week when people found out who I voted for, and I have had conversations with others who feel the same. I sat in class and listened to people talk about how “ignorant” and “blind” I and others like me are in their eyes.

When I went to that meeting, something really struck me. Not one single conservative stood up to voice their feelings about the election. I had every intention to speak until it was clear that what I had to say wasn’t going to be accepted.

The thing is, everyone in this country has some reason to be scared, whether it be liberals because they feel that Trump will infringe on their rights, or conservatives who fear retaliation for their political beliefs. If Donald Trump had lost the election, which I completely expected, I would’ve faced the same fear for my future as Clinton supporters do today.

After thinking about it, I came to this conclusion: Why do I feel like I have to silence myself before a group of people promoting acceptance and respect for different ideas and people? It seems like the only values they respect are those that align with their own. Why should I have to fear expressing my beliefs and hopes because of the way others are expressing their own fear?

Conservatives are labeled by the people who fight against labels. How does that make them any better than those they accuse of the same thing? Yes, I know there are people out there who are intolerant on both sides, and I, along with most others I know, find that appalling. Tolerance works both ways.

I am tired of being called ignorant and delusional about the issues that our country faces. Yes, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination are very real in our country. But just to be clear, I am NOT a racist, bigot, misogynist or a white supremacist or any of the other things people accuse me of because of the candidate I voted for.

I have been told that with my vote I validate racism, sexism, islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. But on the other side of the spectrum, if I voted for Clinton I would have been validating late-term abortions, corruption, the disappearance of the middle-class which I belong to and our “hand-out” vs. “hand-up” system that has allowed people to take advantage of taxpayer dollars.

I don’t endorse the realm of rude comments our president-elect has spoken, but I disagree more with the direction Clinton wanted to take our country.

I simply want people to know me for me, not for who I voted for in this election.

Don’t label us. Don’t count us out. Instead, talk to us. Have open and honest conversations with us that help you learn more about us. You might be surprised how wrong your labels are if you chose to get to know a person by more than who they voted for.

It seems like everyone wants to be talking when no one wants to be listening. We all need honest dialogue in our conversations that disregard demographics and labels but instead allow each of us to get to know one another.

This is a time that we all need to respect others for who they are and their beliefs. We all have different values and opinions on how our government should operate, but in the end we all have to work together to make this country the best for everyone, and one man is not going to change that.

We all need to hold president-elect Trump and his administration accountable and support each other not as conservatives or liberals, but as Americans.

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4 thoughts on “The Silenced Majority: Politics and Dissent

  1. Oxford Dictionary : bigot – A person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions.
    A mentality that goes on the premise of its own infallibility denies that it’s own intolerance towards conservative’s opinions and views is in fact bigotry. (Might they be projecting?) They appear to see conservatives as 100% wrong and they are, of course, 100% right, so their intolerance is not really intolerance.
    ‘Conservatives are inherently evil, so they have it coming’ seems to be the narrative. Around here you may keep your conservatism under your hat for fear of ridicule and invective being directed your way by bullies. In places like California it’s for fear for your physical safety, and that’s no exaggeration.
    It’s interesting that for all the left’s vitriolic disagreement with conservative views, in general they seem to not have much of an accurate idea of what those views even are, and they mischaracterize them and set up straw men to knock down. This may be a result of their own intolerance and reaction. They are not often willing to engage in open dialogue with conservatives, so never find out what their views even are. If they do deign to have a conservative as a friend they make it clear that they aren’t interested in hearing their politics. A dismissive smugness and a sense of superiority is often the sign of weakness of someone who deep down knows they won’t be getting the better end of the debate. What’s concerning is that this trend has been leading to an openly anti-free speech culture, one that has no place in higher education, and especially here at a University founded by a liberal thinker like Thomas Jefferson. Self-censorship as a result of bullying is no better than outright censorship when it comes to fostering an atmosphere of free speech.

  2. Are you serious? Your vote says that you don’t mind if a white supremacist-loving, hate-mongering, ill-tempered cheeto leads the country into turmoil and despair. Get off your privileged high-horse and get a grip. Get out of SWVA and experience the real world. It’s much bigger than your narrow-minded self could begin to fathom.

    1. Thank you for reading my article. Before you insult me please take the time to actually get to know more about me, exactly as I stated in the article. First of all, while I do come from a middle class family I in no way use that use that as privelage. Ever since I could legally work I have had a job, sometimes as many as 3 in the summers. I am paying for my college, my gas, and living expenses so my “privelaged high horse” is a lot lower than you think. Second, how do you know that I don’t have any experience outside of SWVA? My first year of college I went to the Univeristy of Alabama at Birmingham, a school that highly celebrates and encourages diversity among its students, and proves so with its student demographics. I loved the wide range of cultural events I was able to experience and the people I met. I came back here because once again, I’m paying for my own school, and out-of-state tuition is insane. But you wouldn’t know that because it’s easier for you to make assumptions about me instead. I don’t intend to stay in SWVA and I LOVE to travel and experience new places and people. But you wouldn’t know that either. My vote represents a wide realm of beliefs I hold that people like you are not willing to learn about. As for my narrow-minded self, which one of us is being completely intolerant of the others ideas? Thank you for proving every point I was trying to make with my article.

      P.s. It’s cool how people can find common ground when they try- Trump definitely needs to chill with the spray tans.

  3. I am so happy someone has courage to say this.. I’ve felt the same way for quite some time now.. especially being labeled a racist bigot and other things just because I voted for a specific person. I read something someone posted saying “If you voted for Donald trump having fun telling your Gay, Black, LGBT, and Muslim friends that you hate them” which is completely unfair and incorrect.

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