Iyer: The brew is fine, but the décor leaves a bad aftertaste

I have caught a disease that is swift, serious, and infiltrating of the brain, heart and body. It comes to me when I talk, is unavoidable as I sit in Political Science class, and when I sit/lazily throw myself on my suite’s futon to just flip on and watch Fox News, my eyes turn Red.

My lymph nodes swell when people talk trash about laissez-faire, my throat feels like it’s on fire when the topic of free trade comes up, and my eyes water when Obamanomicists say they want to “spread the wealth” more. I am a teenage Republican. I have caught crazy conservatitis.

But don’t worry: I’m pretty sure it’s not contagious.

Let me take you back to a recent day, known as the Official Opening of one Blue State Coffee. You may recall visiting this shop, if you were one of the many slush-and-rain-can’t-keep-me-from-my-free-caffeine college students thrilled and ready to take advantage of the Free Cup of Coffee for Yale Students offer. I was one of these crazed, hyperactive caffeine addicts.

But I do not quite remember my free liquid stimulant swishing through my system so much as looking around the shop and taking in certain intriguing details. There was, first of all, the coffee shop’s name, Blue State Coffee. And there was the cup sleeve in my hand that read: “Drink Liberally.” And the tomes on the bookshelf by such teachers as Paul Krugman. And the quotes, written on the wall, by two men you may have heard of: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

For some reason, I was sensing something of a liberal vibe.

Now, I have nothing against themed dining and drinking locales, or trying to appeal to a certain niche. That’s just business and capitalism. And I am cool with capitalism. But what bothered me was that when I mentioned the Obama-loving air to someone, he said, “Well, I mean, it was meant for college students.”

What does that mean?

Okay, I know what that means. The Yale College Republicans are kind of a minority group. We should get our own cultural house.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t assume college students equivalent to Democrats (or socialists, or Communists). As last week’s scene cover and a pre-election News poll pointed out, we are a niche group on campus, but we still exist, and possibly in more numbers than general sentiment may suggest.

We few conservatives shouldn’t feel the need to cover up our conservatism. Granted, due to a difference some people see between the two terms, I hesitate to use “conservative,” and “Republican,” as synonyms, but I also hesitate to follow English 120 rules of varying one’s vocabulary with such phrases as “those of pachydermal political preferences,” or “Grand Old Partiers,” So I hope you’ll forgive the conservative assumption.

To get my rambling, Roget’s Thesaurus-revising self back on track, although media outlets that don’t have the fair and balanced reporting of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal have suggested that Obama was the main cause of the youth turnout during the election, there are not only at least a couple hundred students on the Yale College Republicans panlist, but also large numbers of college students phone-banking and going door-to-door for the conservative campaign as well. I was never personally galvanized toward any political direction until the 2008 election was underway. In a sense, you could say Obama made me the Republican I am today.

I am not, of course, saying you should immediately go become active in the Yale College Republicans or the Yale Political Union, nor am I trying to convince all Democrats on campus to change their party affiliation (although, if you want to, that’s cool. I will try to restrain myself from blocking you). Any conversation about policy or philosophy could be worthwhile, whether you’re slightly conservative, or very conservative, or ostensibly a Republican but one who voted for Obama, an action I know some took (albeit one that, given his voting record, of all Democrats possible, strikes me as being similar to calling yourself Muslim and beginning your prayers with Baruch Atah Adonai).

But a few conversations with a conservative voice are necessary on campus, in order to make Yale’s residential colleges, classrooms and casual conversations on Old Campus more intellectually interesting and intriguing. Conservative beliefs vary among Republicans as well, as I know from being a GOP member who is fiscally and socially conservative, but not in the hard religious anti-stem cell research and abortion way. And I know, of course, that a desire to have a friend or two in one’s college is the reason many people don’t often share their conservative views. But while I appreciate the conversations I have with the Republicans in my entryway (all three of them), I equally like arguing (at a slightly higher than average volume) with my liberal suitemates, without whom political conversations would be less interesting.

I’m not trying to argue against the Democratic way, or to make digs at Daschle-like Democrats who praise higher progressive taxes but seem to have some trouble filing them (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it). Tina Fey is still one of my favorite people on TV, and I’m a lazy-enough Silliman student to consider Blue State Coffee. Nevertheless, the conservative voice on campus needs to be heard louder.

And I am proud to say that my conservatitis and I did not vote for the hip, young candidate in the election, but, rather, his Republican opponent who fought in a war on which I have written a history paper. What can I say? I’m just a crazy conservative.

Comments

  • MC

    It's good to see conservatives step up to write in the YDN. There are plenty of Conservatives on campus, but many of them are perfectly happy to ride out their time here in comfortable obscurity. This strategy of silent suffering, if our convictions are true, can be used no longer. Our voices shall be heard… stay tuned.

  • anon

    got no problem with you being a conservative, but do you really truly believe fox news is "fair and balanced?" i'm not saying cnn and msnbc are, but…

  • Anonymous

    I admire your enthusiasm. We need people who really care. I also liked that you are opinionated without being blind to the other side of issues, for the most part at least. And i'm fairly sure you meant the fox news comment sarcastically… your sense of humor comes through well. Just dont attack people who voted for obama in thier sleep please!!!

  • Lauren

    Well written!