What is it like to be a conservative at Liberty?

Sabrina Suen, Opinion Editor

I’ll be honest, I’m not a conservative. I’m not even a moderate. I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, and anyone who’s ever had a conversation about politics with me, or read one of my articles can attest to that. In my 12 years of public education, the only time I’ve ever cried in front of my peers was the day Hillary Clinton lost the election. So yeah, I don’t know what it’s like to be a conservative. I can’t speak from experience, but perhaps this article can act as a sort of bridge, as a sort of open letter from one die-hard liberal hoping to put out the flames of polarization.
I’ve never been shameful or shy about sharing my opinions about politics. Growing up in liberal King County, within the vocally liberal community of Liberty High School, my voice has always felt safe, accepted and valued. The day after the election I came to school shattered, but I was met with sympathetic peers and teachers who seemed to know my pain, share it even. It was an almost cathartic experience: venting, crying and embracing with people who just got it, without having to explain or justify. No one asked me why I was broken, no one judged my tears; they simply understood as only a community can.
I never even stopped to consider the other side: the people who wanted to celebrate, to rejoice, to sigh in relief but felt stifled and suffocated by the nearly tangible grief that hung in the air. As unbearable as November 9 was for me, at least I was unafraid to show it. But for that young conservative student who feels like he’s finally getting the country he’s always hoped for, how can he voice his glee when it earns nothing but daggers from his peers? As much as I felt like I belonged to this community that day, he must have felt equally as ostracized.
The feeling of marginalization does not stem from big, explicit acts. It’s the accumulation of little small strokes that paint the bigger picture. It’s the glances and whispers we give when we see that kid with the “Make America Great Again” hat. It’s the sly comments and looks of disgust that follow. It’s the fact that his very existence has become a sort of spectacle for the general liberal population. It’s the fact that we have come to associate the words “conservative” and “republican” with bigotry and racism.
I know it’s tempting to make sweeping generalizations. I’m guilty of it myself. It’s easy to group the opposition into one homogenous, evil conglomeration. That way, we don’t have to acknowledge their opinions as valid. We can dismiss them as ignorant and stand upon our own high pedestal of partisanship. What’s hard is acknowledging the other side, seeing them as humans instead of ideologies.
Perhaps if there is one thing that we’ve learned from this election it’s the importance of dialogue. Trump won because he spoke to a group of people who left like they had been left behind by the liberal elite. I can’t even begin to pretend to defend his policies, but I can try to understand.
So to my liberal brethren, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t want to listen but if we want the other side to start listening to us, perhaps we should offer an olive branch and listen to them first.