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This past week CU Boulder hosted the Conference on World Affairs, a week-long event which included the crème de le crème of specialists in politics, technology and cuisine, among other things. I attended the panel “Republicans: Who We Are” to get a glimpse of how Republicans viewed themselves in light of the 2016 election. Ironically, I left the talk thinking more about how others view them.
During the event, panelists mainly discussed the identity crisis assailing the GOP ever since Trump’s bombast captured the nation’s attention. Guy Benson, an openly gay conservative, split the GOP into 4 “buckets”: Trumpian populists, true conservatives (Cruz), mainstream (Rubio), and The Establishment (Bush). Democrats and Republicans alike can agree that both of their parties face an identity crisis in wake of the most recent presidential election. What struck me most was that CU failed to represent Republican women and Hispanics on the panel.
In the 2016 election, 29 percent of Hispanics voted for Trump. Look back to the 2004 election, and 40 percent of Hispanics voted Republican. According to exit polls, 52 percent of white women voted for Trump. So, are these white women and Hispanics just delusional to have voted Republican? I doubt it. There are very real reasons why these populations voted the way they did and we cannot ignore them.
If CU is as serious as it claims to be about having everyone’s voice represented on both sides of the political aisle, they should stop reinforcing their belief that all Republicans are white men — exactly what they did in this panel.
Republicans are not a monolith. The left must stop trumpeting the tune of “misogyny, bigotry and racism” if they ever want to reach middle America. The last election is a case in point. It makes for good cannon fodder but utterly rejects the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, who taught that any good debate sprouts from the seed of simple respect.
Jon Stewart, not known for his criticism of the left, spoke out against liberal hypocrisy after the 2016 election, speaking with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning: “In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look at Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
Although politics hasn’t been as polarized as it is today since the Civil War, the left might want to consider the Greeks’ wisdom unless they are stone-set to fight another one. Nobody doubts the progressive tenacity that has come to characterize the movement, but that same tenacity could end up consuming them.
Let’s finally admit it, most of us are drawn into politics initially by a single issue. Whether that issue is abortion, racial and gender equality, climate change or economics, politics touches one part of our lives and we are thrown into the fray. Gradually, we develop an understanding of our party platform but remain anchored by that single issue. We ourselves are political monoliths much more so than the parties we represent.
So, are Republicans misogynist, racist, and bigoted? Sure, some are. I’ve met some of them. On the other hand, I’ve met quite a few liberals who aren’t much different. A recent on-campus talk, “Is Abortion Women’s Healthcare” comes to mind. Dr. Anthony Levantino, the speaker of the night and former abortion doctor turned pro-life activist, was told by a student during Q&A that because he was a white male, his moral philosophy and experiential knowledge carried no weight in the abortion debate. This comment reeked of racist intolerance, which Levantino was quick to point out.
Ultimately, the GOP is a party that people support for many reasons, and many voters support the party for just one reason. I was thrown into politics by a single issue and I can bet you were too. So before you cry out a harsh tune, maybe find out what issue matters most to someone. And don’t forget what the Greeks said. It’s as true today as it was back then.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Columnist Will Suhrie at email@example.com