A few weeks before the 2016 election, I had one of my ESL classes discuss politics as the theme for the day. The first part of the lesson was fairly simple. I wrote the words Liberal and Conservative on the blackboard, and asked my students to write five words that come to mind when they hear each term in their notebooks. I then had them read their words out loud and wrote them in two circles surrounding the corresponding terms on the board. Most of the words they thought of were fairly predictable though a few were unexpected.
One girl in the class had always displayed a good sense of quirky humor. She took the opportunity to make the class chuckle by using the names of the 2016 major-party candidates as two of her answers. What surprised me and eventually changed my outlook was that she matched Hillary Clinton to Conservative and Donald Trump to Liberal.
Since I was allowing my students to define the terms and refraining from sharing my views (as I believe all teachers should when investigating a subject objectively), I smiled at my students’ laughter and did as the quirky girl said. On the inside, however, I was a bit anxious at the mistake she had made and felt as though I should correct her.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized the quirky girl’s perception may have been shrewder than my own.
Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton (as well as over the 16 other GOP primary candidates) was out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new personified. It was the rejection of business as usual in favor of a fresh and different enterprise.
Hillary Clinton, mind-numbingly, wanted to conserve the foreign policy that has cost us so much money and so many lives over the course of the past several decades. She openly called for regime change in Syria and to treat Russia as if they were still the USSR.
Trump was highly critical of our foreign policy throughout his campaign, and recently had the courage to tell Bill O’Reilly that our government is not so angelic that we can lecture Putin without reservation. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths in a war over nothing should be enough to make that clear. Unlike Clinton, Trump is earnest and open about wanting to improve US relations with Russia (Taiwan, post-Brexit UK, and Isreal too), and he completely rejects the notion that Assad’s toppling would serve our or Syria’s best interest.
On energy and environmental issues, Hillary Clinton set her heart on conservation and on limiting what companies may harvest and produce. She proposed strict regulations and central planning to keep us in line.
Trump is not only unbound by the politicized science community’s radical environmentalist stance on energy and climate, he has outright denied their unproven claims about Global Warming and man’s impact on the climate. Trump appears ready to permit an all-of-the-above energy policy that allows human innovation and ingenuity to run wild, and will stray away from authoritatively decreed solutions to environmental issues going forward.
Clinton was set on conserving and expanding Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. She expressed no inclinations to reform Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, and seemed to want to continue to add federal programs in healthcare and other realms of American life.
Donald Trump was explicit about his desire to repeal and replace Obamacare, and his proposed healthcare initiatives are thoughtful, diverse, and laced with Liberty.
On education, Clinton seemed content with the status quo and sought to further empower the Department of Education’s monopoly on higher education via more government funding and giveaways.
Trump has had his meteor of an education secretary confirmed, and Betsy DeVos is hell-bent on radically transforming the American education system. She rejects bureaucracy and the ancient educational methods we still implement today. She seeks unprecedented evolution in schooling and major reductions in the role of government in education. Few policies could be as liberating as school choice.
Although she was opposed to gay marriage up until just a few years ago, there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton supports the LGBT community and their rights. This is commonplace for Democrats at this point in time. But Trump’s openness in supporting the gay community was all but unheard of for a Republican until this year. Trump even brushed off the irrational fear of transgendered individuals using the bathroom of their choice.
While not necessarily representative of the candidate’s themselves, Trump’s and Clinton’s backers and those most sympathetic to their causes have illustrated a palpable interchange when it comes to representing their Conservative and Liberal labels.
Clinton’s backers continue to trust mainstream media outlets and clutch their pearls like Victorian Era hysterics when offensive words and ideas are communicated. They protest controversial speakers at every turn and block friends with opposing views on social media.
Trump’s backers have delved incredibly deep into the internet’s deepest regions searching for information while rejecting mainstream media wholesale. At the same time, they are challenging the status quo culturally, intellectually, and comically, and are often censored by the offended establishment for their blasphemous transgressions.
On abortion and immigration, it seems fair to call Clinton more Liberal than Trump, though Obama’s reversal of the wet-foot-dry-foot policy for Cuban refugees shines a light on the politics behind many policies supported by the left. If Cubans didn’t tend to vote Republican, I doubt Obama would have made the change. Perhaps migratory Liberalism is more about politics than principles.
Overall, it is clear to me that supposed Liberals have grown intolerant of free expression and a desire to preserve the status quo. Supposed Conservatives seek transformation in nearly all jurisdictions of American politics and have fresh and open views on policy and society overall.
This is terribly inconvenient for me as the title of my blog is beginning to lose all meaning.