First, I’m going to make an assumption about you, and then you can make an assumption about me.
My assumption: As a Cornell freshman, you are smart, curious, and scared.
Your assumption: As a Cornell conservative, I am stupid, close-minded, and scared.
The more astute reader will realize I actually made both assumptions, but I think you get my point. To be a conservative—or a libertarian, as I politically identify myself—at college is certainly not easy, for it carries a lot of undeserved baggage.
However, why would I, or any of you, with great intellect and energetic, inquiring minds want to get by easily? Or want anything but a challenge? To maintain, cultivate, and mature one’s beliefs and ideas about politics, economics, and the like at Cornell, or at any college campus, is an enormous feat. To do so in the conservative or libertarian paradigm is a near-Sisyphean struggle, but it is definitely worth it.
So, to all the conservatives, libertarians, neoclassicists, Republicans, and those who are decidedly not liberal or progressive in the Class of 2018, I offer an unparalleled opportunity.
The Cornell Review is the campus’s only conservative-libertarian publication, and it is your avenue and tool by which to express the beliefs and opinions you know are true but are assaulted, aligned, and countered everyday on campus. Whether these ideas or beliefs pertain to politics, economics, philosophy, or culture, the Review is your solace and springboard to hone your writing and debating skills and in turn defend your beliefs to a wide readership of people who mostly disagree with you.
Though we purport to be the “Conservative Voice on Campus,” this publication has no set ideology. Indeed, our current staff varies from libertarians to paleoconservatives. There is no litmus test, no battery of policy questions given to new members to determine if they “fit in.” Chances are, if you’re still reading this, you do fit in.
And no, we’re not all Republicans and we do not necessarily support the Republican Party.
No doubt you have heard the horror stories of the domineering and sometimes crazed liberal presence at colleges and universities, especially at the Ivies. It is all true. Among students and faculty, liberalism and progressivism reign, with the occasion socialist and communist thrown in to spice things up. I suspect you are already familiar with them—the Ivory Tower Intellectual Limousine Liberal types.
Otherwise put, the overwhelming majority of people you will meet at Cornell are those whose political ideology is captured by the umbrella term “leftist”—that is, any of the following: liberal, progressive, or socialist (Democrats, too, but that is a political party, not an ideology).
The Cornell Review is comprised of individuals who are the exact opposite: conservatives and libertarians. Whereas leftists are collectivist, we are individualist. Whereas they are close-minded and perform groupthink, we are open-minded and prone to debate each other as much as we debate them. Whereas leftists seek to drum up controversy at every opportunity, we seek to ascertain a rational understanding of reality, current events, and contentious issues.
I could go on. Indeed, as you read other campus publications this year, talk to friends and classmates, and listen to some professors, and then read this newspaper occasionally, you will learn for yourself the truth of my statements above.
Before I go on, I need to make an important disclaimer: I am not here to victimize myself or any other Cornell conservative. To be frank, the hardships any of us might endure are manageable, if they even are true hardships. Most of the time, the worst you will have to put up with is listening to pseudo-intellectual babbling and similar nonsense: For example, a professor’s casual dig at Republicans/conservatives/Bush, etc., that has nothing to do with the lesson or course material. Indoctrination is a constant threat, and it appears in varying forms: sometimes clear and present, sometimes subtle, sometimes undetectable.
Even if you never become involved politically on campus, it is of paramount importance that any conservative or libertarian at college remains keenly aware of the liberal progressivism on campus. It very easily creeps up on you, and sometimes it simply overwhelms you. Liberal progressives have the powerful tool of peer pressure, and they use it to win over the malleable minds of young people that seek, and sometimes crave, acceptance.
What is this peer pressure pressuring you in to, exactly? Intellectual conformity predicated on either ignorance or the refusal to think.
The latter is in fact much more dangerous. Of the many vices you may succumb to at least once in college, let not refusing to think be one. It will be dangled in front of you more than anything else, I assure you. Refusing to think will often win you acceptance and social inclusion. In return for the luxury of refusing to think, you have to sacrifice your values. Unfortunately, too many of our peers pay this steep price.
Ignorance, on the other hand, is never totally avoidable. No one has every life experience or knowledge of every esoteric topic. The best you can do is to continuously learn, to strive and yearn for knowledge and new perspectives, and talk to as many people on campus as possible.
My last point is for all those who say, either seriously or wantonly, that “politics don’t matter” or “my involvement won’t affect anything.” I ask you to look at the world around you, to see the wrongs of statism, leftism, terrorism, etc. growing and winning, whether at home or abroad. People behind these ideologies never think their involvement doesn’t matter, and that’s why they are triumphing everywhere you look.
Of course, writing for The Cornell Review won’t stop these forces, but entering and fostering the debate now will, down the line, ultimately result in some good for this country, the world, and you.
Casey Breznick is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.