As a vocal conservative, a certain conversation comes to mind that I, along with many other conservatives, have heard and endured throughout higher education. This conversation, of course, begins with: “You’re only Republican because your parents are.” Lying under this statement is the implication that progressivism comes only from free thought and intellectual rebellion, and that conservatism is a lazy, second-hand philosophy.
But, is this true?
Psychology Today offers a well-studied and tested theory, referred to as “groupthink”, to explain this liberal accusation. Groupthink, according to the popular publication, “occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation.” Furthermore, groupthink “causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus.”
Simply put, groupthink occurs when a community of like-minded individuals ignores facts that challenge their views and does not welcome antagonizing sides. This idea doesn’t sound so foreign, especially when we consider our fellow students of the liberal persuasion.
However, it would be unscientific to believe that this theory alone proves the right suffers from groupthink. There must be more evidence, and Dartmouth was the perfect school to provide it. They surveyed over 430 students. Of those surveyed: 23% identified as Republican, 63% identified as Democrat, and 14% claimed to be independent. Of those Republicans, 69% said they would be comfortable rooming with someone with opposing political views while only 39% of claimed Democrats would be comfortable doing the same. According to this study, it is the left that suffers from groupthink.
Granted, this data is only for one school; but is the left-leaning rhetoric and progressive behavior so different at your school?
Lauren N, a managing editor for Future Female Leaders, a conservative social movement for young women, said it best: “Why is it that in order to be considered ‘independent’, I have to rebel and have an opinion that opposes that of my parents? My parents’ views do not define me.” It is important to remember that one’s identity as a conservative mostly comes as the product of free thought and research, though some may undoubtedly derive their political beliefs from parental influence.
The next time a liberal tries to pull this argument just take a deep breath, ignore the frustration, and consider: does the conservative learn from her parents or does the liberal learn from his peers?