Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Money Lovers & Dirty Hippies
By Priya Joshi

Growing up in Crankton, South Dakota, Samuel Williams, 29, says he had no other choice but to be conservative. Now a New Yorker, Williams was brought up in an entirely Republican household.

“I attended college in South Dakota and when I finally moved out here at 25, it was a huge culture shock,” says Williams. “I have adjusted in some aspects but I am still, and always will be, a Republican at heart.”

Williams and I talked over a few cups of coffee at a café down the street from his apartment in Astoria, Queens. Having been brought up in a liberal, completely left wing household, I had to leave all of my judgments at the door. There are many topics to discuss when addressing the vast differences between liberals and conservatives, but I chose to focus on a select two that effect us directly as U.S. citizens: Religion, economy and most importantly, the war.

The conservative party is notorious for not always keeping a thick line between church and state. Even our current president is known to mention God and religion in many of his addresses to the nation. Upon taking office, the first thing President Bush did was establish an office of faith-based services.

Whenever social services were needed, they would be provided by faith-based organizations. He ordered an end to discrimination against faith-based groups so they may be considered for the Federal grants. Liberal parties have a major problem with this issue because not everyone in our country is Christian or Catholic, or furthermore, religious at all. It is a clear violation of the foundations on which the U.S. was built.

“My parents were devoutly religious and never had any problem with the fusion of religion and politics. Most of the people I grew up around in South Dakota were the same way,” says Williams as he calls the waitress over for another cup of coffee. “Also, so what if the foundations are faith-based? They’re not trying to convert people, they just want to help. It’s not fair to assume that all conservatives are the same, obviously, but when you grow up around religion constantly, it begins to mix in with everything else in your life.”

The focus of the conservative party, when it comes to the economy is to make sure that the U.S. is always on top. There have been many debates over the years about President Bush’s permanent tax cuts, or the fact that our debt is through the roof due to the war. Members of other parties claim that these cuts only benefited the wealthy in America and continue to widen the gap between the rich and poor, or that the debt will be thrown directly back onto the taxpayer. Each of those pertinent issues goes against the basic ideologies of the conservative party.

“A lot of people say that the current administration has unrealistic goals,” says Williams. “I can’t understand that. I didn’t grow up wealthy. I lived on a farm in South Dakota until I was 25 and I’m not complaining. People bitch about how screwed up America is and I tell them to go live somewhere else then!”

The problem with that statement is simply this: we live in the U.S., poverty, homelessness, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina should not be issues. In 2003 when the war in Iraq began, the U.S. became far more divided than before. It has been one of the most controversial wars of our time and people are constantly changing positions on how they feel about it.

“To go along with what you asked before about Bush’s big goals, this is the one with the most criticism,” says Williams. “However, I think it’s doable. When the war began, liberals didn’t understand how long and arduous it would be. It’s obviously not an easy task to transform a country and people are getting so upset. What this country needs is patience.”

Patience, however, is a tough thing to have when thousands are being killed. To many, it is as if nothing has changed since we entered the war and the administration’s hesitance to pull out is causing a sea of anxiety around the globe.

“People are always going to have their differences but it’s important to understand other opinions. Republicans are seen by some as money-hungry, immoral people but it’s not true,” says Williams. “That’s about as fair as if I called every liberal a dirty hippie.”