Opinion: Response to “Conservatism in 2019”
It has recently come to my attention that in 2019, many conservatives feel marginalized within the national political conversation, particularly within the academic community. I hate to break it to them, but this marginalization they are facing is nothing new.
Two weeks ago in an op-ed written by Alex Closs, I found myself taking issue with some of the arguments made by the author, and decided to take the time to address them and perhaps help them feel more accepted within the academic community.
Closs argues that “the conservative virtue of rational humility has been cast aside in favor of liberal elitism.” In this piece, I will argue why Closs’s popular warped view of conservatism not only has a poor impact on the right, but also on real citizens who are affected by policy.
Healthcare is a significant problem in this country, and through my experience of living with a chronic illness, I know that nothing the Trump administration has proposed here would benefit me. Because of my insurance’s extremely high premium, I try to minimize the frequency with which I visit doctors even though I live with excruciating pain from my disability every day and frequently experience new symptoms that, in an ideal situation, could be addressed through preventative care.
I also spend over $500 every month on medications that are necessary for me in order to be functional every day because I do not have prescription insurance. This isn’t a shared experience in other countries — the U.S. still has the worst healthcare outcomes of any comparable nation yet spends the most money per capita through the government on healthcare — but conservatives argue that our free-market capitalism will fix everything. There’s been a chance for that for years, and there are still people dying, bankrupt, without healthcare in 2019. How is that “rational humility”? It is most Democrats’ standpoint that healthcare is a human right, which Closs denounces as “liberal elitism.”
Secondly, Trump promised to be tough on immigration and to build a wall. He has successfully continued the stringent screening of immigrants from the Obama administration, while building fear and hatred of brown people through his rhetoric. This has led to the horrendous policies of the Customs and Border Protection Agency under the orders of the Trump administration to separate immigrant children from their parents and detain them in cages.
This atrocious abuse of basic human rights is just one of the many for which the Trump administration is responsible. Many politicians condone and support this as a needed measure for border security. If all human life has innate value to Republicans, as Closs argues, they too would be outraged by these policies.
Throughout his piece, Closs alludes to schisms within the Democratic party, and a huge populist movement unifying the entire right wing of the country. But it’s a little ridiculous to assume that a country of nearly 330 million people can be easily split into three ideologically cohesive political groups.
Lastly, Closs adamantly buys into cheap shots fired at the current Democratic candidates for president, which shows that his ideology is based on his disdain for the left rather than substantive analysis of policy. I have not yet chosen my favorite candidate, as they all have flaws. But at least none of them have mocked a reporter’s disability, bragged about sexually assaulting women, bankrupt six corporate businesses, destroyed a once-lively coastal town, retweeted fascist propaganda from known Nazis or become the “living, breathing middle finger aimed directly at academia.”
Academia is an institution of knowledge, an institution that tests theories to try to explain how the world works. Within academia, there is an opportunity for experts to challenge one another and test new theories. There is no such thing as unbiased research, so perhaps academia is liberally biased. But why do conservatives fail to utilize this institution to prove their own viewpoints with data? Maybe because many of their claims are created and backed up by their own media institutions and pundits, rather than from academics using research and data.
So, if people on the left make conservatives feel marginalized for supporting these things, we apologize. It must be difficult to have never been directly adversely affected by governmental policy because of who you are. I’m glad that Trump supporters are excited about the policy put forward by the administration, but I hope that they are able to remember that these policies do affect real, marginalized people and how they live their lives, and are not just a game of political clout.
Allie Luce is a student at the university. Allie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.