As a student who just recently graduated high school, I’ve witnessed some of the backlash that conservatives receive on college campuses firsthand. The fact that I’ve only recently become a conservative has made my recent experiences that much more jarring.
I began gravitating toward conservatism about six months ago after a lifetime of being a Democrat. Friends and relatives continuously asked me why I made “the switch,” and it mostly came down to educating myself about the issues.
Around November, I realized that I had never really looked at the political right through my own eyes. Everything I thought I knew about the right came from someone on the left who was trashing them. I realized that this was an intellectually dishonest and unfair way to look at the right, so I started researching their views and watching their speakers for myself.
I was a moderate Democrat at the time and had already distanced myself from those who were farther to the left. I never really called myself a feminist or associated myself with BLM, Antifa, or anything like that. I had interned for a Democratic congressional candidate for a few months before I realized that I did not support many of the policies he was supporting. After I left, I began researching conservative viewpoints increasingly and I found was that I actually agreed with a lot of what conservatives were saying.
Soon enough, I began volunteering for the California Republican Party. I attended and volunteered at the GOP’s Convention and Candidate Fair in San Diego when my boss invited me and a couple other interns. Having been involved in politics for a while, I wasn’t hesitant to voice my new and improved views and I did so without distressing myself over the opinions of my peers.
My views were not appalling, nor were many of my social media posts. I realized that those who demonized me for my political beliefs were not worth my concern.
I continued to listen to conservative podcasts and political debates in order to better understand the right’s worldview. One political figure who had a particularly strong influence on my views was Ben Shapiro.
I watched Daily Wire all the time as well as “Ben Shapiro Thug Life” videos night after night. Shapiro’s passion and articulation, as well as his famous line, “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” undoubtedly captured my attention. Since Shapiro had played a prominent role in my political transformation, I decorated my graduation cap with an American flag and put “Ben Shapiro 2020” below it. The events that followed were unexpected to say the least.
A friend took a few celebratory photos of me with my graduation cap, one of which I posted to Twitter. Shapiro was the first person to retweet it. I instantly began getting social media attention from both congratulatory conservatives and angry liberals. I received a lot of condemnation from both strangers and longtime family friends, some of whom told me that I should be ashamed of myself and that I deserved even worse than the vile looks and comments I was receiving.
— Jackie Watson (@jackiebwatson) May 27, 2018
I had seen conservatives condemned for their beliefs before, even being censored on social media and on school campuses, but experiencing the backlash for myself was a whole new experience. Witnessing the hypocrisy of the so-called “tolerant left” on my own post was astounding.
Unsurprisingly, most of my critics misunderstood my intentions and Shapiro’s views as well. A couple people claimed that Shapiro was a Nazi, either unaware or dismissive of the fact that Shapiro is Jewish and openly supports and advocates for the Jewish population of Israel. The rest of the insults didn’t deviate far from the usual diatribes (racist, sexist, homophobic, white supremacist, etc.).
I gained three things from this experience. First, the obvious, I was retweeted by Ben Shapiro. Second, I was contacted by Lone Conservative and asked to write an article regarding my experience as a conservative in high school. This was an incredible opportunity and I consider it an honor to have been asked. Lastly, I was able to experience the hypocrisy of the political left for myself. I knew they were not as tolerant as they claimed to be, and experiencing the extreme level of hypocrisy firsthand, certainly affirmed this.
I’ve come to realize that the best way to learn about people’s beliefs is to ask them, not those who despise them. Accusing someone of being a racist, sexist bigot when they disagree with you over a fiscal policy is asinine and doesn’t solve anything. My experiences as a high school student have had a profound impact on my worldview. I’m grateful to Lone Conservative for the opportunity to share this story and for the people who have helped me become the person I am today.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.