A Political Outsider
Red or blue, conservative or liberal, it’s time that America puts stereotypes aside and unites as a nation.
By Amna Ijaz, Collin College
Identifying yourself as a liberal in a red state is thought to be the ultimate curse word.
Chaos and mutiny come to mind when a liberal is pictured in a conservative state, as if the two could never co-exist peacefully. Many liberals carry the notion that the ability for one to casually exist in a southern state is an untold tale. Just the possibility of being the lone blue star in a giant sea of red can be startling, but it is the ordinary reality for many whose stories never get to see the light of day.
We only ever see the suffering narrative of liberals in conservative states, when in actuality, there is more than one side to that outlook. It seems there are simple misconceptions that people formulate as a result of biased judgment and exposure. Perhaps, all it takes is a personal and authentic discovery of the true nature of conservative societies to appreciate similarities.
Conservatives in a red state, such as Texas, are automatically assumed to be racists, bigots or homophobes with small minds, incapable of accepting and respecting the views of others. With the media’s constant portrayal of conservatives as such, and “Fox News” advertising the high points of their clan at all hours of the day, not much is left to the imagination.
You can be conservative without being a racist, and you can be conservative while still respecting others. There’s no oath you take to defy everyone else’s ideologies. Conservatives are regular people like everyone else. In the age of the internet, no doubt exists that conservatives in some areas are a little loose in the head at times, but so are liberals, who do not always want to accept the opinions of others.
Generalizing an entire group based on their outspoken and often misinformed representatives is hypocrisy at its finest. We cannot whine about conservatives being closed off when we do just the same to them. You cannot ask for kindness and tolerance when you are not willing to give the same. People differentiate themselves as either conservative or liberal, when in actuality, within-group variability of opinions is widespread.
There are two things you should know about me. I am a liberal, and I live in a state that is so red that if you looked at our political map through a satellite, you would think we were on fire. Despite its dense pigment, is it all that bad? Are all the people as crazy as they seem?
The answer would be no. I am someone who’s lived all around the world, and people in this southern state are some of the nicest souls you’ll ever encounter. They exude love and kindness in all ways possible, so it is never okay to boil them down to stereotypes because of the extreme actions of a few.
There are positives and negatives to every place, and generalizing an entire population is extremely unfair. The downsides of being a liberal in a conservative state straight-up suck. Your vote never amounts to much, and therefore, Congress never cares much for you. Climate change is not a topic many understand, and don’t even get me started with immigration.
Despite those downsides, though, it’s not the hell on earth that liberal media portrays it to be. The pundits you see on news broadcasts do their best to put all conservatives in a box, but just as you cannot assume that every liberal is a hippie, you also cannot assume that every conservative is a racist.
I can’t say that I have never had an uncomfortable encounter with someone that is not respectful of my beliefs , but that doesn’t mean most people aren’t. The majority is filled with people who are respectful and tolerant of others, despite what viral Facebook videos or news reports may show.
Not everyone here is going to school with guns hanging out of their pockets, and not everyone rides their horses to work. People here are the same as everyone else in the country, just with a different set of beliefs. Respecting those beliefs is our responsibility as citizens, because we cannot preach love and acceptance if we are not willing to show it.
The most common reaction people have when I tell them I live in Texas is either of disgust or concern. I don’t live in the damn sewers. It’s just a place with kind and friendly people. What’s so wrong about that? People here aren’t mean or rude. They aren’t driving around in tractors or trucks. Maybe that’s not true. There are an unusual amount of trucks in Texas, but that’s not the point. There are amazing and beautiful people everywhere in the world, and conservative states are no different. You must be willing to give it a chance.
My views are not representative of everyone’s experiences, and many people live in harsher environments, where it’s a struggle to coexist amongst those with varying ideologies. It is the case in a lot of places, not just conservative ones. Just as it is hard for liberals to get by in certain conservative areas, it is just as hard for conservatives in heavily liberal areas.
There have been countless new reports of bullied and verbally abused students that share conservative beliefs in liberal universities. You cannot stick to your so-called “territories” in fear of being discriminated. You cannot expect people to understand you if you are not willing to go near them.
The more you connect with and understand others, the sooner America can get rid of this blue and red state nonsense. At the core, most people have more in common with each other than not, and the quicker Americans embrace their similarities and differences, the sooner they will unite as a country.