Illustration by Leo Gordon
We all know that living in Berkeley, we pride ourselves on being progressive and accepting of everyone. Berkeley is perceived as the liberal headquarters of the United States. But is there ever a time when we let our “enlightenment” blind us from the exclusivity of our community?
It is uncommon to hear conservative points of views in Berkeley. Maybe the reason we don’t hear many conservative opinions is due to the fear of being considered and labeled an outsider. Sure, we may have discussions with friends about certain political issues, or debate the best fiscal policies in economics classes, but it really doesn’t seem common to be open to conservatives and their perspectives.
Part of the problem is that some people don’t understand what it means to be conservative. In our current political climate, conservative and liberal ideas have been polarized to the extremes. When someone says the word “conservative,” your first thought is of a racist, pro-life, second amendment loving radical. News flash: you don’t have to believe those things to identify as a conservative.
Imagine the political viewpoint spectrum as a football field. The moderate liberals and moderate conservatives hangout near the fifty yard line, while the alt-right and alt-left stay in their respective end zones. Conservative beliefs span whole field, whether they’re economically conservative and socially liberal, economically liberal and socially conservative, or neither.
People are dismissed for the stereotypical opinions and beliefs associated with being conservative when there’s no actual evidence showing where people stand on the political football field. Berkeley may seem more liberal than it is because conservatives are too scared to express their beliefs, fearing they might be ostracized. Are we still accepting of all?
Not only is this uncharacteristic of Berkeley and extremely disrespectful, it limits our knowledge. Conversation about relevant political issues allows for growth. If you expand your ideas and thoughts, you gain wisdom that you would have otherwise dismissed based off of a stereotype.