Living la vida Republican

Because at America’s colleges, even the dangerously misguided have a right to be heard
By KARA BASKIN  |  October 22, 2008

081024_gop_main
NOT THANKS Brandeis’s Jordan Rothman finds liberals to be intolerant.
Trying to find college Republicans in Boston is like looking for a flattering pair of jeans: they’re elusive — either too stiff or completely out of style. (One young politico I interviewed claimed that homosexuality will hasten the downfall of the Western world.) But this rare species does exist. In fact, once unearthed, many are quite vocal and eloquent. Given the liberal climate on most local campuses, they have to be.

Exhibit A: Jordan Rothman, 21, executive director of the Brandeis Republican club and conservative columnist for Brandeis’s student newspaper. Despite his stature as a high-profile college conservative, Rothman once felt so marginalized that he considered transferring to The College of New Jersey. (Being banished to Jersey for your political beliefs — could it get any worse?)

“I started out on Facebook as a moderate,” he tells me, as though Facebook is a congressional subcommittee. “The liberal bias propaganda did a lot to turn me to the right. This blind pursuance of ideologies that don’t make sense — a lot of people seem to follow them aimlessly. That disgusted me and pushed me to the right. My experience at college was one of the fundamental reasons I became more conservative.”

It’s a thankless position, he says, not least because of frequent Bush-bashings on campus. Rothman calls party foul on his fellow students who claim to be liberal and open-minded, yet shun non-liberal viewpoints. “People stop me, taunt me about Sarah Palin. People Bush-bash and college professors present biased lectures. It’s hard to express opinions without being punished. People verbally assault us, take down our fliers — and we put out these really well-thought-out fliers — these are the same people who say they’re progressive and liberal.” He sighs good-naturedly.

Still, Rothman soldiers on, mainly because he understands why many students find liberalism so “sexy.”

“The educational system is extremely liberal,” he says. “Once you get to college, you’re assailed by professors who have a degree of socialism in their lives; they’re tenured. Of course they’re going to put forth that view. Also, college kids are extremely privileged, which leads them to liberal ideologies.”

He also points out that stances on which Republicans urge reform — things such as taxes and Social Security — are easily overshadowed by more glamorous Democratic talking points like Iraq and gay rights. “Students aren’t worried about Social Security right now,” he says. “They’re worrying about what they’re going to do this weekend.”

Bush-league dating
Which leads me to wonder: is it possible to even have a social life as a conservative student on campus?

Stephanie Brown, 21, a Tufts Republican from Florida who worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, admits that it’s tough. “If I were only friends with Republicans here, I’d have very few friends,” she laughs. “I find it hard to be conservative in a liberal city. I have to deal with my share of insults, arguments. But I find that in many ways, I thrive on it. It gives me the opportunity to embody my own principals and beliefs. As a minority voice, it carries a lot of weight. I take it with humor now. You can’t take it too seriously.”

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney, Elections and Voting,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY KARA BASKIN
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   NAVIGATING THE BARROOM BREAKUP  |  December 06, 2012
    It's pointless to plunge into the holiday bacchanalia with dead weight — namely, an insignificant other who doesn't need to meet nosy Auntie Gertrude at the family potluck.
  •   RETURN TO SENDER  |  March 22, 2010
    Sure, we've all gotten an unwelcome fruitcake or fluorescent sweater in the mail, usually from a well-meaning and slightly out-of-touch relative. But few New England Jews could have been prepared for the surprise "gift" that recently arrived on their doorsteps courtesy of Georgia-based messianic former businessman Sid Roth.
  •   FIELD GUIDE TO FACEBOOK  |  September 04, 2009
    Recently, CNN ran a short piece listing common Facebook personas. CNN ? After our collective jaws dropped, we asked the rhetorical question, "How instructive is the funeral-parlor-stopover of undead zombies like Lou Dobbs and Larry King going to be to the Facebookers of today?"
  •   LIVING BEYOND THEIR MEANS?  |  June 17, 2009
    I'm at Bond on a Thursday night, and it's simmering with testosterone and possibility. Spaghetti-legged cocktail waitresses coo at businessmen. Tables spill forth with bejeweled women speaking too loudly and young couples sipping Champagne. 
  •   NERVOUS, STRESSED, AND DEPRESSED, LLC  |  April 30, 2009
    Twenty-seven-year-old Jesse White is a temporary staff attorney at a domestic-violence nonprofit in the South End.

 See all articles by: KARA BASKIN