Every conference I have ever been to has told me not to do this. “No one wants to read about why you are conservative or why you chose to put yourself out into the college community. They want to see you apply your vision of conservatism to specific, salient issues. In reality, most people on a college campus probably don’t want to see or hear you but they need to in order to receive a balanced view of the world.”
As I reflect on my impending graduation, I have come to cherish each piece that I write more and more. All of my pieces serve as milestones on the journey that I have embarked on this year.
My job as an a Trinitonian opinion columnist is rather clear cut: explain conservatism to the campus. Ignoring my flirtation with baseball and technology, I followed in the footsteps of Nikita Chirkov, one of my mentors, while at the same time crafting my own voice. In this column, I will attempt to explain why I do what I do.
I won’t give my full backstory — I’m saving that one for my memoir — but I will attempt to answer part of the reason why I chose to embark on this journey. I will admit this piece is a bit of a cup game, showing a little without revealing the whole story.
“Why did you decide to do this?” I asked Ryan Anderson as he sat in the back of my car back in the fall of 2016, as we drove from La Fonda on Main to the Chapman Center. At the time, I was a raging libertarian, skeptical about the concept of marriage and fleeing my socially conservative roots during the traditional sophomore year libertarian streak, which occurs as a part of almost every conservative’s time on a college campus.
His reply was something along the lines of “I went to college for music, but I realized marriage was important. I looked around and realized that no one was out publicly defending marriage. So I decided, why not me?”
In the end, I found most, if not all, of Ryan Anderson’s beliefs and arguments convincing; this led me to return to traditional conservatism and become even more traditional than I had been when I nearly left. Leaving things better than when you found them is a virtue.
In a way, that conversation with Dr. Anderson reminded me how I managed to get involved in politics in the first place. Everyone procrastinates and sometimes you do crazy things that end up being productive while procrastinating.
Long story short, instead of studying for my high school finals, I ended up volunteering for Ben Carson’s Super PAC. I thought — why shouldn’t I help elect to the presidency someone who I share values with? “If not I, then who?” has always been a rallying cry for action.
I saw my country headed down a path I did not want it to go down, so I did something about it. This effort snowballed me into my current position. I am a firm believer that if you are meant to do something, doors will open up for you to make your dreams a reality. Of course, you have to put effort and hard work in first.
I felt the need to say this after participating in Dean Tuttle’s event “Being Right on Campus.” The event was for Trinity students, assuredly progressives, to ask questions to actual conservatives instead of just making assumptions about our beliefs and intentions.
The event started off with my partner, Isaiah Mitchell, and I giving a brief tutorial on conservatism and its basis, then proceeded into a question-and-answer session. The students seemed to understand the information decently before getting hung up on tradition and then turning on each other over freedom of speech. About half-way through the event, I thought to myself, “Why am I doing this?”
Most conservatives on college campuses have the sense to keep their ideas to themselves for four years, allowing college to be the best four years of their lives as people, not effigies. After the event was over, I stepped back and remembered that the reason I have undertaken this course of action with my life is that someone must do it.
Do not let it be said that we did nothing and that our lives are meaningless the day we chose to remain silent about the things that matter most to us.