I am conservative, and I’m unapologetic about it. In a weird way, it’s nice to be the odd one out on campus — “that guy” who everyone knows will disagree with them all the time.
I say that it’s nice because I feel that it allows me to be a leader on campus. In my own small, conservative way I feel like I can contribute to the “campus discussion” of the day, on whatever topic may be in vogue. Somehow I get liberals shaken up, even though I’ve lost every policy battle I’ve engaged in.
My start as a loud-mouthed campus conservative was four years ago. I was a freshman senator in the Unified Student Government Association (USGA), now known as the Student Government of Loyola Chicago. Loyola was going through the throes of banning bottled water — something I vehemently opposed (I still do. Students are old enough to vote and join the military, but we can’t buy bottled water on campus? That’s social justice, I guess. But I digress.)
At one point or another in the USGA debate on the bill, I was moved enough to take my opposition to the pages of The Phoenix. From there I was hooked, and I’ve been a regular contributor to the paper ever since.
I think a lot of people wonder why (or maybe how), in this university environment, I can be such a staunch conservative. Don’t I care about the poor? The disadvantaged? The environment? The capitalist? I answer “yes” to all those questions (even the capitalist, even though I once said otherwise).
Yes, of course I care about those people and about the environment. It can be difficult to believe it, but you should. I may disagree with 99 percent of the student body sometimes, but oftentimes I care about the very issues I disagree with them on. In the end, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I have different policy solutions to address those issues.
I know I’ve made a good number of people upset with some of my articles. That’s what happens when you say the exact opposite of what everyone on campus is thinking. I don’t make any apologies for my past articles (except maybe that one where I said I was liberal. On second thought, I won’t) because I always try to write respectfully and find the common ground.
Indeed, I can use colorful adjectives sometimes, or use some action-packed verbs to convey my feelings, but when I get down to it, I try to be thoughtful with my criticism (and my rare endorsement of an initiative. Does anyone remember when Loyola ditched plastic bags? I endorsed that).
That’s the funny thing about being conservative in a liberal environment — there’s always a way to step on someone’s toes, whether you mean to or not. If I had a dime for every person I upset in my four years here, I wouldn’t be rich, but I would be upper-middle class. Yes, I am aware of the Facebook posts, the Tweets, the Yaks and the looks people give me after my articles go up. At this point there are probably some students who recognize my face better than I do.
Those kinds of things used to bother me, as they would bother anyone. Being called a racist, bigot, white and male (in a bad way) used to really get to me. Having people say they are “afraid” of my articles was depressing. But that (for the most part) is in the past. Since then, I’ve realized a few things.
One, people are mean. People have a great capacity to be mean, especially in the age of the Internet when we can sit behind our screens and not see the emotional reaction our words cause in someone else. People can be mean, and they can be mean more often than we like to think.
Two, not everyone is mean. For everyone I’ve upset, I’ve gotten a compliment on my writing, my argument or just the fact that I have guts to stick up for my beliefs. Just yesterday, I received a compliment on my satirical article from The Kleenix issue, and I guarantee it was not the only compliment I got for that piece.
Third, it’s fulfilling to stand up for my beliefs. Many a liberal can’t understand how I’m conservative, or perhaps how I haven’t quieted down in the face of so much opposition. No matter. I’m not in it — I’ve never been in it — for others. I’m in the fight for myself, to stand up for what I believe in and to give a voice to those who agree with me but can’t or won’t say anything.
Ultimately, though, I’m going to miss it. I’ll miss the fray that only Loyola offers, and I’ll miss the outlet The Phoenix provides. I know a good number of students will be happy to see me go (at least for a while — you never know where I’ll pop up next) but I’ll miss the back-and-forth, the bickering and the slow-motion smackdowns that happen in the Opinion section.
I may miss it, although it may not miss me, but no departure is complete without saying goodbye. So goodbye Loyola, goodbye Phoenix, and thank you for the memories. I’m a better person — and a better conservative — because of it.
Dominic Lynch is the Opinion editor