By: Sean Newhouse – Staff Writer
I was raised by Republican parents in a Roman Catholic household. My extended family leans conservative. Most of the adults in my adolescent and teenage years were Republicans. The day after the 2012 election most of my classmates came to school disappointed.
I was to act with maturity and dignity, to myself and to others. The virtues of kindness, friendliness, and honesty were instilled in me. I followed my parent’s standards of what it meant to be a man, not society’s expectations.
I was taught that women were equal to men in every way. I was taught that I was not better than anyone because of my white skin color or middle-class lifestyle. I was taught to work for what I wanted, not expect it.
I was taught to serve others who didn’t have the same opportunities that I was afforded. I was taught that being gay wasn’t a sentence to hell. I was taught that love always trumps hate. I was taught how to be a good, decent human.
What conservatism and Trump’s Republican Party is now is not the conservatism that I grew up with. I had so much respect for conservatism until this past year. When I first heard of the alt-right, I thought it was an over exaggeration.
When I listened to pundits talk about Trumpism, I thought surely this could never actually happen. Trump and his cronies are not conservatism. They’re not even liberalism; they’re just pathetic.
New conservatism is almost exclusively white and male. They’ve taken advantage of the communication revolution and used it to spread their anti-progressive message that strong women and diversity are threats to the common man.
By misconstruing news, creating false conspiracies, and infusing juvenile humor into their message, they have misguided millions of people by appealing to their feelings and impulsiveness rather than their logic and rationality.
President Donald Trump may not be a racist or a sexist, but he has emblazoned followers of new conservatism, or the alt-right. No longer is the alt right just internet trolls who ruined Pepe the Frog, but now they have a figurehead in the president of the United States.
Trump’s continued Twitter, and public, tantrums beget division and encourage this emerging movement to reject all other authority except his.
Our president exhibits the same behavior as that of spoiled, brattish seven-year-old. His obsession with winning and material goods, and loose relationship with consistent values and the truth is worrying to me.
Some say, and they say wrongly, that race and gender did not play a role in this election. I argue that if Trump would’ve been anything other than a white male, he would not be president.
If former President Barack Obama acted like Trump when he was running for president, he’d be labeled a “thug” and a representation of “the hood” by every Fox News commentator.
If Trump were the son of Hispanic immigrants, fake news would be shared claiming proof that Trump made his billions on drugs and that his parents were illegal aliens.
If Trump were a woman, millions of memes would be created calling she-Trump a “slut” who can’t keep a man.
Besides Trump, the worldview of his senior advisor Steve Bannon scares me. In TIME magazine’s profile of him, the reader gets an in-depth look at possibly the second-most powerful person in the world.
Bannon was in the Navy. He has an Masters of Business Administration from Harvard. He ran a successful entertainment business. Then, he began making conservative documentaries. Soon after, he became the editor of Breitbart, which thinks Fox News isn’t conservative enough.
In his personal life, he was charged with domestic abuse, though the charges were later dropped. Two of his former co-workers described him as, “…legitimately one of the worst people I’ve ever dealt with” and “one of the worst people on God’s green Earth,” respectively.
He’s been quoted as saying he wants to “bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
I understand that a lot of people are unjustly affected by the current global order. However, history has shown that social progress is best accomplished through non-violence. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are proof of this fact. Bannon, on the other hand, gives off the impression that he rooted for the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
Quite frankly, Bannon reminds me of that family member who watched a conspiracy-theory documentary on the History Channel and now thinks he understands how the world works and what is best for it. That is not the person who should have an office next to the president.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a younger manifestation of new conservatism. Yiannopoulos is an eccentric public figure who used to be the star of Breitbart. His main message is that liberal political correctness is destroying free speech. He targets Black Lives Matter, the transgender community, and feminists among others. He views white males as the victims in contemporary society.
One of his slogans is “hate speech is free speech.” He thinks rape culture is a fantasy. While he’s been banned from Twitter, Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at CPAC (an annual major conservative convention) this year.
His invitation was rescinded, however, after a leaked video seemed to show Yiannopoulos being OK with pedophilia. He didn’t deny it. I would quote him, but I don’t think the University would appreciate those words in print.
I would respect his position on free speech. Nevertheless, I take issue with anything that comes from the mouth of a whiny, cowardly person who has no problem making fun of black comedian Leslie Jones via Twitter but thinks saying “Black Lives Matter” is a threat to free speech.
When I discuss these figures, people tell me, “Sean, you’re being too sensitive.” “Clearly, you still haven’t gotten over the election.” “You need to look at their policies not just their personalities.”
In response to those responses, I have looked at their policies. While I am a strong liberal Democrat, I think abortion should be illegal in most cases. I didn’t vote for Bernie because under his “free college plan,” Dayton would still cost what it costs and I’d have to pay higher taxes. I even acknowledge that the Republican plan to replace Obamacare probably helps me more than Obamacare does in its current state.
I can’t look past the personal images these men and the new Republican Party present as conservatism. I don’t want to give off the impression, though, that I think all Donald Trump supporters are evil and deplorable because they’re not. Hillary Clinton had ethical issues and personal beliefs of her own that I can understand would make someone refuse to vote for her.
My issue, and my point, is that collectively we have to stop being comfortable with this behavior. People I went to high school with are now sharing and posting sexist and homophobic quotes on various social media that before they would only say in locker rooms. Adults who I respected as a child are now suddenly using racial slurs freely.
I understand that people think liberals are elitists corrupting America, but I don’t want America to be a place where the leaders are bullies and people who are different are taught to be ashamed of themselves. Or, that their presence in America destroys some non-existent idea of a utopic America.
I want an America where people are kind to one another, where a person thinks of the other person even if it doesn’t benefit them, a place where empathy is taught and encouraged. I don’t know if we would have been closer to this goal under the Clinton administration, but we sure as hell aren’t closer under this administration.
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