By Esme Laster
It is no secret that Beacon fosters an environment of political awareness and conversation. Most students experience this through the frenzied debates in History, the copious social justice clubs, and the heavily politicized nature of daily class discussions. In this atmosphere, there emerges a vast political imbalance: Republicans and conservatives are overwhelmingly outnumbered by Democrats and liberals. Amongst Beacon’s proud culture of political discussion and consciousness, the minority political sects go surprisingly unrecognized, leading those Beacon students on the right end of the political spectrum feeling marginalized and voiceless.
Widely known for being vocal about her “constitutionalist” beliefs, sophomore Morgan Ames notes how Beacon’s social and political atmospheres intersect: “There’s a reputation that comes along with me being a Republican at a liberal school that can cause a lot of misconceptions and negative perceptions.” This is telling of the alienation that Beacon’s political climate can cause, as one can acquire a negative “reputation” for stating how one identifies on a political spectrum. This also demonstrates how intertwined one’s social standing is with their political identity. Despite the stigma that is tied to sharing unpopular beliefs, Morgan states, “My views are my views and no one has to agree with them, but they cannot stop them from being heard.”
Independent and “right of center” Malachy was eager to join this rare conversation. When asked how liberal Beacon students respond to his sharing his beliefs, Malachy said that they tend to be politically close-minded and “hard to have conversations with.” This is surprising, being that Beacon students are theoretically bred to have diplomatic political conversations and learn from opposing beliefs. However, Malachy noted that many of the more abrasive responses he receives transpire outside of the classroom, whereas in a classroom setting, “debates are always well managed, respectful and informative.” It seems that these teachings of conciliatory debate do not translate outside Beacon’s walls.
Both interviewees agreed that Republicans are not given as large a platform as liberals at Beacon are. The lack of representation is largely caused by an inability to organize because there are so few Republicans and, according to the interviewees, because many Republicans are “scared” to voice their political opinions. Malachy attempted to organize a Young Republicans club, as there is an active Young Democrats club, but he “couldn’t even get fifteen conservatives” to join.
Undoubtedly, Beacon’s political atmosphere is flawed and needs to be balanced for the left, the right, and those in between. However, in New York City, commonly known as a “liberal bubble,” an imbalance between liberals and conservatives is somewhat inevitable, albeit not healthy. In today’s political climate, bipartisan conversation is crucial. Beacon is no exception.