Conservative Discretion: A Liberal Problem Too
At but a glance, one can easily determine Packer students’ mainly left-wing standing. Numerous affinity groups and clubs, a gender-neutral bathroom, as well as a variety of sexual orientations accurately exhibit Packer’s liberal views. To be sure, Packer has it’s fair share of good ‘ol GOP moderates, like any elite private school in the Northeast, but these barely right-of-center Republicans are rather insignificant in terms of Packer’s political demographic. The actual question is, what about that third category of political advocate – true right-wingers? Now under the recent pseudonyms of Gary Johnson supporters and – in particular – Trumpites, these ardent activists are seen as unruly, belligerent, loud, and sometimes even unnerving for many. And yet, despite their notorious truculence in the country at large, in Packer, they remain discreet. One Packer student, whose name they wished to keep anonymous – a clear illustration of wariness in and of itself – stated that if fervently right-wing students were to expound their political beliefs to the rest of the Packer community, they would “be socially outcast and exiled.” This fear of being ostracized by the Packer populace portrays not only an irony in comparison to the bulk of radical rightists in America, but also an inquiry: Why is this the case?
A reassuringly obvious and facetious answer to this question is that Packer resides within the Democratic Party stronghold of New York, and so it is expected that it be well stocked with Bernie Bros and Hillary backers. Indeed, and nearly anyone would agree, a city’s milieu and political sphere heavily influence its young citizens. And in addition, it can be rest assured that in many of the right-wing citadels of the Midwest, liberal students would be equally suppressed in their respective high schools. Yet this comparison is skewed because, as we all know, liberals have a drastically different set of values than extreme conservatives.
Reactionaries take satisfaction in their conventional, narrow-minded, and hidebound beliefs, so it should be no surprise that they would belittle and deride liberal opinions as lunacy. Liberals, however, pride themselves in their tolerance, progressiveness, and open-mindedness, and yet, as exhibited by the discretion and circumspection of the extreme right here at Packer, they are quick to denounce any non-liberal judgments. That’s not hypocrisy per se, but it is ironic, and it poses a bit of a quandary to democrats.
While liberals are progressive in that they encourage the diversifying of ideas and of alternative lifestyles, their open-mindedness does not stretch across the political gamut in that they have not but genuine dislike for the ideals of the extreme right. This predicament is no doubt difficult to navigate, as economic standing, race, and gender happen to play a role. Nonetheless, it is important to stay broad-minded. As Mr. Lacy puts it, “If we want to have a really enriched conversation, people need to feel comfortable saying what they really think. Even if you think someone else’s opinion is abhorrent, you’re not going to get anywhere in a conversation unless you suspend your prejudice and adopt that person’s mindset for a little bit so you can understand where they’re coming from.” There may be no clear solution, but perhaps being “liberal” in the true sense of the word – being open to new behavior and opinions – would help the situation, and in turn, better community.