Politics. It’s the dreaded “p” word that no one wants bring up during the annual Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the topic that is so sensitive people are disgusted by the very word. It’s the practice that has so many layers, it’s almost impossible to understand it all.
Generally speaking, California is a fairly left-leaning, blue Democratic state. San Francisco is known for having a very liberal viewpoint in comparison to the rest of the country. But what about the Bay Area Republicans?
Because the ideas and principles of liberals are so present in our everyday lives, we have to be consciously aware that THERE ARE conservatives among us. A few weeks ago, a survey entitled “Republicans of Pres” was sent to the student body with various questions regarding the participant’s beliefs, their experiences, and their opinions on certain situations at Pres.
We got 44 responses, which represents about 5.5% percent of the student body. Of particular concern is that 35 of those 44, or 79.5%, of Presentation Republicans believe that is very hard to be an open Republican at Pres. Also, not a single one said that it was easy to voice their conservative opinion.
Our survey also revealed that, like Republicans nationwide, many Pres Republicans do not agree on the same issues all of the time. The strongest commonality was that 65 percent of the Republicans at Pres believe that we should have a small government.
However, in contrast to the official Republican party platform, 62 percent of Pres Republicans argue that marriage is for everyone, not just a man and a woman. Everyone has their own individual beliefs and principles.
The 2016 presidential campaign has definitely brought a bright spotlight on the issue of politics. The majority of that attention has gone to the many negatives about certain candidates’ personalities, mannerisms, and relationships with other people in their lives.
In particular, Donald Trump has been one of the more controversial candidates in recent memory. Another fact, and a huge issue in politics today, is that many people associate Trump’s ideas with the ideas of all Republicans.
Because Donald Trump is so polarizing, he is the punchline to many, many jokes, including some that are mentioned in the classroom. Yes, while some of the things that he says are concerning or even humorous, there are students who see him as a viable candidate. They agree with some of his policies, but not all of them.
Even in the survey, we had a wide variety of reactions to Donald Trump. One student said, “I find it very difficult to discuss my views because everyone thinks that all Republicans love Trump and are racist white people, when in reality most Republicans (at least at Pres) are just as disgusted with Trump as liberal students at Pres.”
However, another student says, “I’m really torn because believe that Donald Trump has good ideas in theory, but he is just too extreme to implement them effectively.” And the last student says, “TRUMP 2016”.Whether a person supports Donald Trump or hates him with a passion, she should not be mocked or villainized in any sort of setting. These statements are all opinions.
In fact, political beliefs are just opinions and perceptions that people form in order to better our country. The term “Republican” has gradually become synonymous with the phrase “Immigrant hater” or “Anti-Equal Rights.” One student explains her frustration with the stigma of being conservative: “If I [put my name on this survey], I am certain that everyone would be pissed at me for voicing my OPINION.”
Another student adds, “I think the school and its community and even people all around the United States need to put into consideration that people have the right to their own opinion even if you disagree. No one has a right or wrong opinion; that’s why we have more than one political party.”
The extent to which many Pres girls did not feel comfortable giving their name on the survey suggests that Pres is perhaps not as tolerant as we claim to be. Out of 49 responses, only 7 girls were willing to give their name: 5 of which are seniors. The two other girls were brave enough to say what they felt was right, without concern for the impact that it would have on their friend group.
In the classroom, students can feel especially uncomfortable. The two classes that students didn’t feel like they could speak their mind were social studies and religion.
One student brought up [social studies] as a particularly difficult place to express herself: “Girls act like you are stupid if you bring up the other side of a political issue if you do not agree.”
Another student noted, “Spanish class often turns into an hour long discussion of how terrible Donald Trump is and how Republicans are both evil and idiotic. Additionally, history teachers rarely maintain a neutral political environment in class.”
Yet another wrote, “To give a few examples, my religion teacher and English teacher often act like they’re ashamed to live in America, criticizing how everything about America is ‘whitewashed’, which it’s not, talking about how horrible we all are for not letting in illegal immigrants and possible terrorists into our country. They try and make me feel guilty for being white and having food on my plate and a roof over my head.”
Students often look to their teacher for guidance, but sometimes, political views conflict and the student is even more discouraged. Said one survey respondent: “One instance that sticks out to me was during a … review session where we touched on different aspects of government. The Supreme Court and the recent death of Justice Scalia came up. Two girls, who happen to be openly liberal, were being very disrespectful to Scalia and rejoicing in his death just because he was conservative. The teacher was standing right next to us and said nothing, which I found to be discouraging, considering that Presentation is a school that promotes the important ideal that all humans have dignity.”
While it will not solve an immense problem here at Pres, teachers and students should keep in mind that there ARE others with different views.. Having an opinion is fine, but verbalizing disapproval of a certain candidate can make others feel ostracized and oppressed.
In a school that is trying to promote women empowerment and confidence, we must ask ourselves: “We are living in one of the most diverse areas in the nation, so why do we silence anyone who has a slightly different opinion than ourselves?”