When I hear a person label themselves as Republican or Democrat, I cringe. What do these labels even mean? When you call yourself a Republican, are you saying that you share the values of the Reagan era of constitutionalism and libertarianism? Or do you stand with progressive Republicans like George W. Bush and John McCain?
As a Democrat, do you fit the template of a John F. Kennedy, working-manâ€™s Democrat? Or the modern day, â€œIâ€™m so open-minded my brains have fallen out,â€ Chicago-style, political-machine Democrat? These two political partiesâ€™ values are in constant flux. Logic dictates that by labeling yourself so broadly, you are committing yourself to standing behind whatever they represent at any given time.
On the other hand, it makes so much more sense to describe yourself as liberal, conservative or libertarian. These are ways of life and personal philosophies that are less corruptible than the vague labels of Democrat and Republican. In my opinion, a person would not even have to follow politics to call themselves liberal or conservative.
I didnâ€™t start college until I was 22 years old, so I had an opportunity to gain some life experience and get my hands dirty. Being in class with people who were fresh out of high school, I was reminded of my own naivety when I was their age. Even more frustrating was how professors would take advantage of this. These kids were eating out of the palms of their hands, and never questioned anything they were taught in Sociology 101.
Around this time were the 2008 elections, and Obama came through town to campaign. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard about what a good speech he gave, but never once heard a student mention what it was about.
As painful as it may be, you cannot call yourself a truly informed voter unless you pay attention to all arguments surrounding an issue. People on both sides of the isle are in the habit of getting their information from sources that merely tell them what they want to hear. Personally, I know what I believe in, so why would I keep going back to some commentator to reinforce what I already feel?
I used to drive a delivery truck on the days I wasnâ€™t in school, so I was fortunate to be able to listen to the radio all day. In the morning I would listen to conservative radio, then in the afternoon switch to â€œprogressiveâ€ radio. Often times, my head felt like it was going to explode, but I had piece of mind knowing that I gave both sides a chance to make their argument.
One thing I have learned from this is that itâ€™s hilarious that the people who chastise Glenn Beck are the same people who brag about getting their â€œnewsâ€ from John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
I used to think I was liberal because I was young and went along with the crowd. It was trendy to love Michael Moore then as well. This was until I found that the liberal perspective is weak, dependent, needy and whiny.
I used to consider myself conservative. This was until I found that conservatives are far too concerned with putting stock into worrying about things that don’t affect their lives.
My views on gay marriage, gays in the military and the fact that I have been alienated by conservatives because of the way I like to look and dress made me leave the conservative camp. I feel much more at home with a libertarian point of view.
Basically, I don’t care what anyone does so long as I don’t have to pay taxes for it and it doesnâ€™t diminish my quality of life. My morals lean to the right, such as being pro-life, and I prefer the smallest amount of government interference.
With the upcoming presidential elections, it will become so easy to avoid doing your own legwork, and simply follow the crowdâ€¦especially on a college campus. You need to truly know exactly where you stand in 2012.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, â€œQuestion with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.â€
Chance Johnson is a senior journalism major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.