By Isaac Rosso Klakovich
American towns don’t get much more liberal than Chapel Hill. It sticks out in the swing state of North Carolina for voting consistently democratic in every election. East is no exception, with everyone from teachers to students extolling liberal beliefs in most conversations. Even in classroom environments, where political discussions are sometimes taboo, it is acceptable to discuss liberal beliefs because teachers and students believe no one in the class will disagree with them. Many might see it as a positive that almost all students at East are liberal, but in fact, it is detrimental to both students and the liberal cause.
“It’s great that the East student body is politically active, however it can often be very difficult to express a belief that is anything less than far-left,” explained senior Sam Billings.
With so many students sharing liberal beliefs, it is easy to forget that there are conservative students for which East’s political environment can be hostile. While liberal students have no problem expressing their political beliefs, conservative students can not say the same.
“Everywhere I go, I am told that conservatives are all racist, dumb, and intolerant when I can say for sure that the majority of conservatives defy those beliefs,” said an anonymous senior. “It is very rare that someone actually forms their own opinion. I see people all the time just finding evidence for what they want to hear, neglecting to consider anything that smells conservative. I feel that this is wholly attributed to the left majority in the area.”
It might be less obvious, but this environment does more damage to liberal students than their conservative peers. As few areas are as liberal as Chapel Hill, conservative students will find a more diverse political thinking group and will have no problem expressing their beliefs when they go off to college. However, the problems liberal students will incur from this environment have the potential to politically isolate them.
Some students who were once moderate, or even somewhat liberal, might be pushed to conservatism due to the extreme liberalism present at East. This might seem counterintuitive, but if students were never extremely liberal they might be turned off by liberals who don’t seem to see the middle ground, and decide to embrace more conservative values. Sadly, this takes what one might think as the perfect environment to show people the positives of liberalism and does just the opposite.
“The liberally slanted views of our school creates an environment that alienates moderate to conservative beliefs,” stated senior Collins Alexander. “Ideas seen as liberal 15 miles outside of East Chapel Hill are readjusted to be further right along the political spectrum within the borders of our campus.”
Another outcome of this environment is a generation of even more liberal students, since the political dialogue is exclusively left wing. If they are never shown the other side, opposition becomes non-existent and any trace of conservative values are washed away. Still, many might see this as a good thing, but if people are so far to one side of the political spectrum they may not be able to work with people who don’t share their beliefs.
Currently, political polarization is an incredibly prevalent issue as Donald Trump has a realistic shot at the presidency and many democrats are supporting Jill Stein instead of Hillary Clinton. These political figures represent the issues of political polarization and demonstrate how environments like East can be especially dangerous. Students and teachers at East need to start encouraging real political discussion in which both sides are considered, so that when students leave they have the best chance of working with others to make the world a better place.
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