America: Divided We Stand

Young Connecticut conservative endures hostilities

Year 1988 was the last election in which a majority of Connecticut voters cast ballots for the Republican presidential nominee.

By Austin Garrison

Austin Garrison

Editor’s note: Mr. Garrison, 16, is a junior at Edwin O. Smith High School in Columbia, Connecticut. Every summer, he visits his grandparents, Bill & Phyllis Garrison, who live near Aurora. This young conservative remains true to his values, despite growing up in an overwhelmingly liberal state. 

COLUMBIA, CONN — The American people have been through many hardships. Gaining our independence, a civil war, two world wars, slavery, racial injustice, and so many other things. But through all these hardships, one characteristic has prevailed, our ability to come together as one nation, indivisible. 

But as we have progressed through this very troubling year, it is seeming more and more like we are losing this ability and as a conservative, all I can do is talk about my personal experiences and the experiences of people with whom I am close.

We are coming to a breaking point, a point of no return. Every great nation hits this point because we do not heed the mistakes of those who came before us. It seems as though we are at the canyon edge, and as we look over, there is no bottom, no return from the void of division, and we are making the decision to jump.

Though political strife has always existed, it seems as though the issues that are troubling us most today, began —  or at least came to prevalence — during the election of 2016. An election in which both Republicans and Democrats threw out any forms of pageantry or civility that they may have otherwise expressed for and towards each other, and even towards members of their own parties. 

This set a precedent for the American people, a precedent that allowed for the bashing, slandering, and dehumanization of anyone who had the nerve to stand up and speak an opinion that you don’t agree with. Many weren’t even able to sit down at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and be civil towards members of their own family. Relationships were destroyed, friendships were ended, and families have been torn apart merely because of the political party they chose to affiliate with. This is a precedent that no one has attempted to change, even four years later, at the beginning of a new administration and a new Congress.

I think that I may be one of the best people to speak on the issue of being cast aside or bashed for my political beliefs. I am a conservative in a state that looks down on people like me. I have had people call me every name in the book: a racist, a sexist, a bigot, a homophobe, a xenophobe, an islamophobe, and so many worse names because I had differing ideologies from the folks around me. As a seventh-grader, I was even openly called a racist in front of my entire class, by my own teacher, because I supported President Trump. I have always been in the minority in every situation I enter because of my beliefs. I have had to be quiet about the things that I believe in, for fear of being ‘canceled.’

School isn’t even a safe place for people with differing beliefs from the majority. Many months ago, there was a page on Instagram that was created to expose conservatives like me within our school, and to have these people bashed, bullied, and have their reputations destroyed.

Now, I thank God that after many times of it being reported that it was taken down, but at least two people’s private social media accounts had already been posted to this account. Again I say, I am very thankful that one of them wasn’t mine but it very well could have been. Conservatives are scared to come out and voice their opinions for this exact reason.

Now as I close, I would like to make clear that I am only speaking through the eyes of a conservative, I can’t see what the other side sees or feel what they feel, so I chose not to speak for them. And, I am well and truly aware of the fact that not everyone who is on the other side is like this, but the loudest ones, with the most influence, are. And this is a common theme on both sides that needs to be further addressed. But, these are the feelings that I hold and the things that I believe.