By Tiffany Selberg
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, where my parents taught me conservative values. At the time, I did not think anything of it, since everyone around me thought the same. However, it was not until I started using the internet more that I discovered that maybe everything I had been taught might have
been wrong. Without knowing, I was exposing myself to more liberal thoughts and ideas through the media on my own time. I had made friends online that were gay when I previously had never even encountered one, I was introduced to feminism and I was able to meet people from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and struggles from my own.
I remember when Obama was first elected in 2008 and how my neighbor and I, 7 and eight years old eight at the time, were crying over the news. Why were these young kids crying because someone that their parents did not want to become president, did? It was all about being impressionable, and not thinking for myself. By the time Obama had ended his second term, my views started to switch. I was educating myself more on opinions from both Republicans and Democrats and found that I agreed with some from both sides, which was frustrating.
When I got my license, I made sure to register as unaffiliated, since I still did not identify with one party. I do not think I will ever change my affiliation, and I think registering as this is great. What ultimately changed my views, was watching the people negatively affected by the Conservative Party. I remember the girl who sat next to me in Chemistry during my junior year of high school.
She was crying the day after Trump got elected because a few boys in our class were rubbing it in her face. They said that Trump was going to make sure people like her mom could never get married. Even though I did not completely agree with gay marriage at the time, that was so hard to watch, and I was actually able to get them to lay off. It was experiences like this that helped me put myself in the shoes of those on the bad end of the stick that truly transformed my views.
I encountered numerous situations like this, and I was more aware of and open to hearing about the problems of people who are not white, heterosexual, Christian, middle class and cis-gender. The world is filled with many different types of people, and it’s time we start acting like it and acknowledging them in a respectful manner that any person deserves.
If America is truly “for the people,” they should be for the immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, the poor and all in between. I identify as “left-leaning” because I want to see a positive change in this country. Not because I want free college, which is not the best idea to me, and not because I think we should be giving handouts, and not because I think we should remove all aspects of religion from government. I am left-leaning because I believe in sustainability, legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, equality for all and affordable healthcare.
I want my conservative family to be more liberal-minded, and I am firm in my values. If it were not for educating myself and and exposing myself to different types of people, I would still identify with my family.