Journey to the Republican Party: The college years

Part two of my story of how I became a Republican.

Off to college I went and like most other 18 year olds I was convinced that The Man was pure evil. Unlike many of my peers however, I didn't limit the definition of The Man to just Republicans. I didn't trust any politician any farther than I could throw him or her. It seemed to me that any good intentions that any man or woman had were quickly eaten away by the thirst for power. On one of my visits home my first semester of college my father lamented that he had sent me off to college to get an education and he had gotten back some radical activist.

I fell in with the usual multicultural crowd that Black students are often expected to run with in college. But it wasn't a very snug fit. I never understood the value of being in college/university with people from all over the country and all over the world but only associating with "your own people". You could do that at home for a heck of a lot less money. Wasn't the point of higher education to expand your horizons? I had several different groups of friends but I could never get them to interact with each other because each was convinced that the other would not understand them.

I also had a tendency to say things like, "Affirmative Action is a band-aid over a huge gaping wound in American society." I felt that wound would never heal if Americans kept trying to cover it over with half measures. The festering wound affirmative action was meant to treat needed to be exposed, cleaned, sutured and left to heal on it's own. That always got a few uncomfortable looks. (I've since come to the conclusion that that gaping wound isn't as bad as I used to think it was but that's another post.) The response I always got was something along the lines of well it's better than nothing. No one ever ventured to offer what they thought might be a better solution.

I did my time railing against my state's Republican governor and Newt Gingrich's "Contract on America" as it was cleverly dubbed by my activist acquaintances (who obviously didn't understand the thing because they could never adequately explain it to me). I even broke the colour "barrier" at my college's student newspaper. There were no Black students on the paper's staff my freshman year. Silly me I thought, well I can fix this problem right now. Let's get a few folks to go on down there and volunteer for the staff. I got one person to go with me, a very culturally white Latina from the sticks of western New York. The editors were more than happy to have us join the paper's staff. It seemed that the "barrier" consisted of Black students refusing to join the staff because there were no Black students on the paper's staff.

This was a frustrating attitude that I often encountered in Black students at college. They refused to participate in many groups because there were no Blacks participating in those groups. The implication being that Blacks were not at all welcome in those groups. How on earth would there ever be any Black people in those groups if Black folk refused to join because there were no other Black folk in those groups? Never got an answer. And my participation in a group was never enough to convince them that maybe, just maybe group X wasn't really made up of a bunch of closet racists who wouldn't welcome or try to understand them.

Back to the student newspaper. I eventually worked my way up to editor-in-chief in an organization that some had wanted me to believe was somewhat racist. I even managed to harass a few friends (Black and White) into joining the paper's staff with me.

I met my first real life diehard Republican while on the paper's staff. Looking back he was probably more Libertarian than Republican but he was an interesting character. He was also assumed to be a racist by a few of my Black friends. He was unashamed of his conservative values and very outspoken about them. I often found myself agreeing with some of his opinions. Most of the paper's staff members were well to the left of him politically but we all managed to peacefully co-exist. We even elected him editor-in-chief a few times.

By the time the Lewinsky scandal broke I had little respect for politicians. Clinton's behaviour seriously pissed me off. But I really shouldn't have been surprised. He wasn't acting any differently from many other politicians or a lot of Americans at the time. Yeah you should be able to expect better from the President of the United States but the man was a reflection of the country he was leading. If people wanted better behaviour from their leaders they should have expect better behaviour from themselves.

The Democrats' refusal to admit that Clinton's behaviour was unacceptable and the Republicans' glee at having a scandal to beat the Demcorats over the head with was disgusting. Yes Clinton screwed up royally, yes what he did was totally immoral, yes he tarnished the office of the President of the United States. Why couldn't Democrats admit that and why did Republicans have to be so happy about it?

To be continued in The Rights and Responsibilities fo Citizenship.
Part one, Journey to the Republican Party: The high school years.

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