In today’s political and social climate, simply admitting that you are a conservative can be a scary thing. It used to be that if you disagreed with a person’s political stance, you could have a calm, civil debate, and perhaps even learn from each other. My generation has lost the art of debate and goes straight to personally attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with you. I believe this is due greatly to political unawareness. We’re so used to everyone being fast, simple, and easily accessible that we form entire political views based on the headline we barely glance at before unlocking our iPhones. This kind of thinking has caused many problems, political and otherwise, and one of them is stereotypes.

There are hundreds of negative stereotypes surrounding conservatives, specifically the Republican party. When I tell someone I’m a Republican. They immediately assume I’m a gun-slinging, racist, Bible-thumping bigot. They don’t take the time to get to know me or to even hear what my views are. Some of these stereotypes were created by liberal media, and some were created by conservative politicians who believed some pretty horrible things. However they were created, it’s unfair to assume that everyone, or even the majority, of conservatives, believe that way. Unfortunately, those stereotypes are very well established. That’s why I believe it has fallen to my generation, the millennials, and the generations to come to combat them. I want to be very clear here: I’m not saying it’s our job to combat liberals, Democrats, or anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Rather, it is our job to identify common misconceptions and stigmas placed on conservatives and work to remove those by demonstrating why they are untrue and perhaps changing the way we do or frame certain things.

 

But don’t always assume that you’re right or that any argument being brought against you is completely invalid.

Ignorance is at the root of all this. On both sides. Rather than listening to what we have to say, most liberals immediately attack us based on the stigma surrounding conservatism. And rather than being able to listen to their points, process them, and respond with facts and solutions, conservatives tend to become immediately defensive. We often sink to our attacker’s level and snap back at them or simply sit there and allow ourselves to be attacked. This has become a pattern, not only among big politicians, but everyday people, and it will solve absolutely nothing. So, conservatives, educate yourselves! Know exactly what you believe and why you believe it. Do your research! Don’t just back up a candidate because they’re a Republican. Learn about their platforms and policies so that when you come across someone who disagrees, you can have an intelligent debate, not just a shouting match.

So, conservatives, educate yourselves! Know exactly what you believe and why you believe it.

Nothing is going to change unless we work to do so. A defensive attitude of, “I’m a conservative because this is a free country and I can believe whatever I want,” is not going to get us anywhere. Don’t just block out what liberals are saying about us. Stop and listen so that you can identify what you are being accused of and work to rectify it. Have a little humility.That doesn’t mean you have to be spineless and let everyone accuse you of believing things you don’t.

But don’t always assume that you’re right or that any argument being brought against you is completely invalid.

I love America. I love being a conservative. Because of that, I’m going to work to make sure everyone knows exactly what that means. Isn’t that the point? We don’t just want to prove others wrong, we want to find the truth. I want people to know that I’m pro-life because I believe in the sanctity of life, not because I hate women. I want people to know that I’m a Republican because I believe that our beliefs and values line up more closely with the Bible than the beliefs and values of Democrats. I want people to know I’m a conservative because I truly believe the values held by our platform. The only way people are going to know those things is if we show them. So let’s do it.

Guest Contributor Emily Hanley