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To my liberal college: Thank you for turning me into a conservative

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“I think government taking care of those without health insurance is noble. I think Wall Street is greedy. I think we need a higher minimum wage. I don’t think the rich pay their fair share. I think that just because there is Freedom of Speech, that doesn’t give someone a license to be hateful. I think Barack Obama will be a great, first African-American president.”

That was my liberal self until my freshman year of college. If the stereotypes are true, college should have turned me into more of a left-winger and a social justice warrior.

It didn’t.

By the end of my freshman year at George Washington University, I took an introductory comparative politics class where when asked if the middle class is needed for a democracy to survive, I replied that the Bill of Rights is more important than socioeconomic classes. Moreover, disgusted with the Left’s penchant for anti-Israel sentiment, I officially paid dues and joined GW College Republicans, where I learned the tenets of the GOP: free market capitalism, deregulation, fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense.

After an invaluable internship at The Weekly Standard, courtesy of the conservative Young America’s Foundation’s National Journalism Center, I became more of a skeptic and critic of what I was hearing overall. Instead of “group think,” I decided to “individual think.”

I realized that I shouldn’t fight for “social justice,” rather for “individual justice.” I realized that, as Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” I realized that government shouldn’t dictate most aspects of our lives. Obamacare is failing to insure all Americans and is full of lies like “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”

I realized that America had retreated from the world stage, and created a power vacuum in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East that have been conquered by ISIS and other Islamic terrorism. Gun control is not the solution to curb violence in my hometown Chicago and other places with the nation’s strictest gun laws and highest homicide rates, and that the National Riffle Association isn’t callous in the aftermath of a mass shooting like Sandy Hook or Orlando.

I realized that all points of view, left and right, should be heard. Just because you may disagree with someone, doesn’t mean they’re bigoted. There are bad apples on both sides of the political spectrum. College is meant for engaging, not enraging, others and hearing diverse viewpoints. In fact, I disagree with liberals and conservatives all the time.

I realized that we should judge people personally not by their background, rather by their character. Hence, there is no such thing as “White Privilege,” rather the privilege to attend a fantastic university in a city that ultimately dictates politics and policy while being around good people of different backgrounds. Another instance of this mantra relates to the GW stereotype of a “rich kid.” I had a few “rich kid” friends, but I befriended them not because of their wealth, but because they shared their invaluable kindness and exemplified what it means to be a friend.

My advice for incoming and current college students is to not only have an open-mind, but be well-rounded.

Thank you, GW for turning me into a conservative and well-rounded person.

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