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.