I’m fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.” The number of times I’ve heard fellow students use this line to describe their political views has led me to wonder why it is so popular.
I eventually figured it out: Students are afraid of giving people the idea that they oppose gay rights.
Students should not allow the closed-mindedness of conservatives who voice opposition to gay rights prevent them from identifying with the Republican Party.
The pinnacle of Republican-led intolerance was reached at a GOP debate last November. During the debate, audience members booed a gay soldier who addressed a question to Rick Santorum.
Instead of reproaching the audience members for disrespecting Army Capt. Stephen Hill, Santorum launched into a tirade against gay sex in the military.
The actions of fundamentalists like these give the entire Republican Party a bad rap, especially among socially progressive voters.
As a result, many conservative-leaning students are reluctant to voice their political affiliation for fear of criticism and improper labeling.
Occurrences like the Santorum debacle must not be used to tarnish the image of Republicans, especially among college students who, according to a 2011 study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, tend to be supportive of gay rights.
Rep. Ron Paul, for example, supports the privatization of marriage and the ability of all people to make marriage contracts without government involvement.
Fittingly, Paul’s core group of followers is largely composed of young voters: In the Iowa caucus, 48 percent of voters under 30 chose Paul.
Despite many people automatically associating Republicans with Christian family values, Republicans are most concerned with fiscal prudence and limiting government powers. “Preserving the sanctity of marriage” is hardly emphasized among more moderate mainstream Republicans.
Core Republican values ring especially true today, during a time of crushing federal debt. The most important issue is climbing out of debt and putting Americans back to work. Until then, social issues will have to be kept on the back burner.
Most Republican presidential candidates — or, at least, viable ones such as Mitt Romney — are focusing their time and energy on promoting free-market principles instead of wasting time preaching about gay marriage.
The philosophy of the Republican Party as a whole allows individuals to live without government oppression. A new generation of open-minded conservatives passionate about promoting this philosophy without forcing a certain definition of sexual morality is emerging.
Now is the time for young conservatives to dispel these misconceptions by standing strong in their views and by showing how educated and tolerant the emerging generation of Republicans can be.
Sarah Cueva is a sophomore majoring in Middle East studies and political science. Point/Counterpoint runs Fridays.
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