Rebellion is not often associated with a return to traditional values. In pop culture, one of the lone outliers is the hall of fame punk rock band, The Ramones. Politically, they were infamous for their thumbs down to communism and Johnny Ramone’s conservative beliefs. Despite having liberal members, they were still considered outsiders in an industry filled with anarchists and socialists. For myself and my family, being from an area dominated by democrats and left-wing policies, liberalism was a natural part of life. There are local Republicans and right-wingers, but they are few and far between, not often speaking up given how important espousing liberal ideals is to one’s social status. Dissent, and you become an outcast. I learned this difficult lesson at the age of only 16 when I read about individualism and decided that progressive politics were no longer for me. I became an unlikely rebel against a society that hated traditional American values.
Even though I am five years into my political journey, the past three of which I have called myself a conservative, speaking my mind is still a difficulty around my family. In an increasingly divisive political climate, staying rational is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, not every person takes those steps to reassess his or her own beliefs and engage with opposing viewpoints through literature or discussion. The 2020 election was tumultuous, and my family members proved to me just how far into irrationality they were willing (perhaps unconsciously) to go.
Before the election, I was sitting outdoors with my grandmother when she expressed her belief that those who dare not to vote for Biden should suffer in some painful way. When I inquired about the extremity of such wishes, she responded that she did not care. In her eyes, those that disagreed with her were so evil, there was no reason to understand their political values. Months later, she told my father how she would disown anyone without a second thought for the sole act of owning a firearm. In my family, either side of it, she is not alone in her deeply held beliefs. I have had cousins scream in my face that I must vote blue in my first presidential election, aunts proudly exclaim that I am another number for Biden’s ticket only to be shocked into silence when I disagree. These are just a few of many tiring moments that encapsulate the experience of being a political rebel.
To know that I value family more than my own family does is difficult, but it is an emotional sacrifice I must make to keep people in my life that are important to me despite their illogical and harmful views. I have to be the greater person and show that my family is more important than any of our political beliefs, even if it means that I can’t be wholly honest around them.
Due to my family’s sensitivities towards differing political views, I have to express myself in a less obvious manner. Especially since I am not inclined towards debate and confrontation, asking introspective questions is a difficult but important way to help family members rationalize their radical stances. Being GenZ, we are looked to as a beacon of fresh and new ideas for the future. Elder liberals seemingly expect us to be advocates for a new age of socialism amidst talks of the Green New Deal. It’s important to help people remember that most ideas are not new, they are old ideas that have been rebranded. Being young, we need to use that fact to show how conservative tradition can be fresh in a modern world, especially when paired with its values of liberty, freedom, and justice.
Amongst young conservatives, we often see black and white reactionary thought to the outspoken left. We don’t need to have everyone on “our side” fit in a box that ticks off every perfect conservative view. We also don’t need relentless bipartisanship to the point where Republicans are just progressive-lite.
Stay true to your own beliefs and values. As conservatives, we should put family first and be willing to reach out across the aisle. We don’t need to sacrifice our stances to help others understand them better in a personal and compassionate way.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.