Being conservative in a school full of liberals

Student surpasses political isolation with dialogue and decorum

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Being conservative in a school full of liberals

Junior John Graham holds deeply conservative views in an overwhelmingly left leaning community.

Junior John Graham holds deeply conservative views in an overwhelmingly left leaning community.

Jackson Croy

Junior John Graham holds deeply conservative views in an overwhelmingly left leaning community.

Jackson Croy

Jackson Croy

Junior John Graham holds deeply conservative views in an overwhelmingly left leaning community.

Eleanor Dudley, Features Editor

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In a politically tumultuous time, tensions run high between those with opposing viewpoints.

It seems harder and harder for those who disagree to find common ground and acceptance of one another, as each side grows more impassioned and resentful day by day.

Despite our country’s long history of being politically divided, it doesn’t have to be this way. Citizens must hold out hope for reconciliation and understanding, a process that begins in classrooms, hallways and communities.

Junior John Graham holds deeply conservative views in an overwhelmingly left leaning school community.

Living in a county where 71 percent of voters chose Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election, Graham encounters many who oppose his conservative views. Still, he rises to the challenge with an open mind, dialogue and tolerance.

To him, being conservative means having an appreciation of change, as long as one is cautious with it. “It’s about finding a balance between the future and the past and learning from both,” he said.

Graham’s parents were raised in a community where church was emphasized.

“They both grew up conservative too so they have definitely influenced me quite a bit,” he said.

Though his conservative mindset has been influenced by his family, to live in accordance with their values is a conscious choice he makes.

“I am proud of being conservative–especially in Seattle. It shows I’m just being me and not really giving in to what other people think.”

Christian values

Graham feels his conservative mindset stems from his devout faith.

“I take the Bible as literally as possible and that usually translates into conservative views,” he said.

Together his faith and upbringing have shaped his mentality, making him more reliant on thinking than emotion. “Some people might be better to rely on emotion but for me I’m a thinker, so thinking about my decisions is pretty much a necessity,” he said.

Graham’s number one issue? “Abortion. I don’t even think of it as being a limitation of women’s rights. I think it’s just killing a baby.”

Although it may sound harsh he thinks friends understand where he’s coming from.

And they do. Fellow junior and baseball teammate, Thomas Helean, does. “I support him and his views, his morals and his pride really mean a lot to him. It’s rare to see someone with that dedication in today’s society,” Helean said.

Influence in classrooms

In a school with a strong liberal bias, Graham has an authentic perspective, one that is often left out of the narrative.

Despite teachers’ attempts to be objective, and have overall balanced discussions when talking politics in class, a definite liberal bias oftens sneaks in.  “We are doing a unit on politics and Hutchins described liberalism as optimistic and conservatism as pessimistic and just using those words has such a negative connotation on conservatism,” Graham said.

AP Language Arts teacher Web Hutchins welcomes the diverse perspective.

“It is a blessing to have his conservative ideas on the table which is overflowing with liberal positions,” Hutchins said.

A moment that stands out to Graham, where he disagreed with what was going on in school, was during was the recent Black Lives Matter statement made by teachers during the school day.

“I fully support Black Lives Matter, but schools aren’t allowed to have church built in, and that’s in the Constitution and that’s fine, but any other agenda is the exact same thing,” he said. ““I guess school should just be about school and not just agendas if you’re not allowed to have all agendas.”

Influence on social life

Graham’s political views affect choices he makes outside hallways and classrooms. His conservative views and faith influence where he goes and with whom he spends time.

“Going to parties and stuff, obviously it’s fun but it’s fun in the moment, whereas when you apply thinking and hard thought about the long-term, it’s not that good,” Graham said.

Teammate and friend, junior Lukas Seely, admires Graham’s responsibility and dedication to his family and his faith.

“His family and religious values are second to none and that’s unrecognized in today’s society,” he said.

Tolerance over animosity

In a time of political turmoil, Graham’s attitude offers hope that people with different political views and perspectives can get along.

“You can be conservative and be just as loving, or even more,” Graham said.

That mindset is what makes Graham who he is.

“If ever there was living proof that conservatives can be wonderful people, too,” said Hutchins, “it’s John Graham.”

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