Conservative. Right wing. On the right.
The words still taste funny on my tongue. Typing them out, that doesn’t bother me so much. At least, not anymore. I’ve gotten used to it. As I moved from being mostly defined politically as being staunchly opposed to Hillary Clinton, to someone who thought Trump would be the lesser of two evils, I started to experience people asking me about my political views. Specifically, asking me to define those views.
I used to say “I lean right.”
It didn’t feel complete, but it was what I had. And, besides, with my political evolution, could I really align myself fully with a side I had never been a part of? Would I be culturally appropriating conservativism?! Would I really be welcomed on the right?
As I went from being tolerant of Trump to actually liking him, I started to realize that I was more than just “leaning” right. It wasn’t just that I opposed the social justice warriors, and the feminists, and the #BlackLivesMatter racists, and the Islamists, though that was a big part of my larger political awakening.
And that is why, from now on, when someone asks me how I would define myself, I will keep it simple.
“I’m on the right.”
Not because I think labels are so vital, or because I think anyone’s politics can truly be boiled down to a single word or a small set of words, but because I believe it is human nature to want to align ourselves somewhere. To fit in.
I have utterly rejected identity politics for virtually all of my teenage and adult life, even as my policy views changed over time to be more conservative. It has never made sense to me to align with feminists because I’m a woman, or to align with white nationalism because I’m white. Those are not things I control. Those are not mine to carry. Like many young adults of my generation (I was born in 1992), my parents taught me that people should be judged by their character, not by attributes that they cannot control.
The things I am proud of, the things where I can find identity, are the things that I choose. The burdens I take on, the joys I take part in, those things are found in groups of people who share my values and my goals for the world.
I didn’t choose to be a millennial. I do choose to be part of the Right.
My reasons are myriad and varied. I choose to be on the right because I believe that facts have a right-wing bias. Because I believe that all people as individuals are deserving of human rights. Because I believe that Western, Judeo-Christian values have built the greatest societies in the world, and I will not be ashamed to say so. Because I believe in laughter, and offensiveness, and the fearlessness of knowing it’s okay to say what you think. Because I believe in freedom, and in the freedom of speech which protects all other freedoms.
This has not made for an easy path. I’m a 24 year old Canadian. People my age are liberals, and even if they vote for the Conservative Party of Canada, they’re mostly still left-leaning. Due to certain life events, I went from being a stay at home mother to having to support myself and my son on my own. So, the topic of how I make money comes up quite a lot. Usually I try and play it off, and just say I’m a freelance writer. I don’t know how this tactic will go if I am blessed with any sort of widespread attention, but I suppose I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.
A few of my friends know a little more detail about what I do, and know that I “lean right”. A couple support what I’m doing, and know even more about my politics. But for most of them? I’m just their normal, apolitical, young mom fun friend to go for a walk with, or shop with, and talk about the kids while they play. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have some wonderful friends. But sometimes, it starts to feel a bit like living a double life.
And then we have my family. The people who I’ve been thinking about as I write this article. The people who I am terrified will read this, but at the same time, they’re the people I wish would read it most.
I would call my family – mother, father, and two younger sisters – liberals. Dad is more of a fiscal liberal, but with somewhat of a social conservative side, being a religious man. Fortunately, he shares my disdain for the regressive left, and he shares my passion for debate and engaging conversation. Though we may diverge more deeply than we ever have, he is the one person who taught me to think for myself, and for that I will ever be respectful and grateful.
My mom and sisters? We are pretty far apart on the spectrum. I don’t talk about their politics very often, because it only leads to conflict. But when I spend hours a day thinking about the topic, it has a way of coming up.
Today, my mom and I had a bit of a confrontation in the car about the so-called hate crime wave in Canada and the United States. Despite me citing proven examples of fake hate crimes, and clarifying that I was not saying that the specific incidence we were hearing about on the radio (The government funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, naturally) was fake or real, she immediately shut down the conversation. She accused me of assuming that all of my “fake news sites are real”, even though I clarified in the cases I was referring to that these claims were disproven by law enforcement, not investigative journalists from any outlet.
My only point I had been trying to make was that everything in the media is a narrative, and that how the media reports things often is designed to uphold that narrative instead of simply letting the facts speak for themselves.
I could have scrounged up an example of an anti-white hate crime somewhere, which would of course be counter to the narrative, but that wouldn’t have “worked” either. Debating with my mother and my sisters never works, period. I’ve been trying to steer clear of politics with them. It’s deeply frustrating to me. Not that they disagree with my ideas – my dad often does, and we can talk for hours and have coffee happily afterwards – but that they will not even allow a discussion to take place. My views are too “extreme” to even be heard.
And the way these conversations are shut down is very specific. They tell me that I need to be spreading love instead of hate, and that I should just live my life and be a kind person, or something of that nature.
And you know what? I actually completely agree with them. I agree with the chalkboard painted on my mother’s door, filled with little drawings way prettier than anything I could make, and little quotes like “A wise man once said nothing.” I agree with peace, and with being kind and compassionate towards people, and with it being a good thing to just live your life and try to be a light to the world.
Why do I have this disconnect in my head between how they want me to be, and in many ways how I wish I was, and how I, quite clearly, intrinsically am? I was raised the same way, in the same homeschooled environment, with the same friends, with the same values. I see the value in what they say (not that they always live it out, but I wouldn’t expect them to.), and yet, it is not the way I speak or the way I live.
I am argumentative. I am fierce. I am opinionated. I am challenging. And yes, sometimes, I’m a bit offensive.
And I’ve finally realized why.
It’s not because they’re wrong, and I’m right. It’s because we’re both right.
It’s because for them to be right, for them to have the ability to sit there and have a cup of tea in a safe country with wealth and peace, there is a cost.
The cost is that people like me have to be right, too.
I say this like I’m some kind of freedom fighter. I’m not. I’m just a girl sitting in my little apartment, hoping my son doesn’t wake up until I’m done my work for the night, looking forward to a cold beer and playing around on Twitter.
But the ideas that I will stand for, the small risks I will take to say “This is right” or “This is wrong”, even if my own family rejects me? That means something.
And when many of us are willing to stand for something, it ensures that people like my mother and sisters have the extreme privilege of just wanting us all to get along.
I like their goal. Love. Unity. Peace. It is a goal I want, too. I’m not beyond idealism at times.
But some of us, those of us who are inclined to be contrary, we have to face the worse parts of the world, where there is a lot less love and kumbaya and a lot more evil. Look at war.
Soldiers across the world, from all walks of life, are fighting and dying for people to say “all you need is love”. In fact, they’re fighting so that I can say what I’m saying right now. Fighting so that I can pretend anything I do is brave. This thought humbles me, and their lives bless me.
You want to talk about privilege? It is a privilege to have the option to reject even having to care about the tough questions. To be able to proclaim love is a great privilege, built upon the honor of men far better and greater than we could ever hope to be.
But do not take this to mean that me, and you, and any of us who commit the small revolutions of standing for something we believe, are not important.
Those who will stand for nothing will fall for anything. We must not let this happen to us. Speak. It is powerful. My own life is proving this to me more every day. Conservative is the new punk. The Left is the establishment, the Right is the rebellion.
When I was looking at that chalkboard at my parent’s today, all I could think was this: I have a quote too, mom. You gave to me on a magnet. It’s on my fridge right now, where I walk by and read it every day.
“Have only one rule. Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day. No matter what.”
You taught me that, and I have to believe those words meant at least a little to you. And maybe I don’t live that out the way you and dad and my sisters wish I did. But I am trying to fight for a better world, just like I believe you are. I rebelled differently, but I’m still your black sheep, your oldest child, the test run. I believe one day, even if it takes time to see it happen, I will make you proud.
But even if I don’t? Just know that this, what I am doing, what I am speaking up for, was important enough to risk your respect.
I am a young woman on the right, against all odds. And it deeply matters.