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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024

Why it's good to be right

Madison is liberal.  


The self declared \Berkeley of the Midwest"" has a city council dominated by the Progressive Party and has no qualms on regulating everything from the type of fertilizer someone can put on their lawn to where you can smoke. 


Why in the world then would a conservative boy from New Jersey ever want to go to school here? 


""I came here because I wanted to be confronted and I wanted to confront other people,"" said Peter McCabe, now a senior at UW-Madison. ""I want people to think about [their political beliefs] and you're not going to think about it if you are in a setting where people are just patting you on the back telling you you're right."" 


As a former member of the Student Services Finance Committee and current Executive Director of Collegians For a Constructive Tomorrow, McCabe has had his fair share of confrontation. 


""It's hard, you spend your whole life just trying to do the right thing and then someone comes up to you and says you're an evil person or you're just a person of white privilege-Its like no; I'm just coming from a different perspective,"" McCabe said.  


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On SSFC the key was forming a level of respect with the other committee members. 


""When conservatives are fairly out numbered on this campus in the public forum, you can't [convince others] by saying 'This is right! This is right! This is right!' and hoping the other side has some great epiphany,"" he said. ""You have to make it an open dialogue."" 


And McCabe was true to his word according to senior Joel Giffin, who served with him on SSFC. 


""He is definitely one of the more vocal conservatives, though not necessarily the most conservative on campus,"" Giffin said. ""He was pretty fair dealing with all student groups and I respect that when it came time to hear the Roman Catholic student organization he recused himself from voting because he was Roman Catholic."" 


One of the key issues while he was on SSFC was whether each student should have the option of deciding which groups they wanted to fund, rather than every student paying a set amount in segregated fees. 


McCabe took the interesting approach of staying out of the hotly contested debate. Though he disagreed with the opt-out solution which ultimately failed, he did not want the dialogue to revolve around him, rather he wanted it to stay focused on the issue at hand. 


""Seg fees were going to be part of this campus no matter what because of past legal decisions,"" he said. ""What came out of this is that for 10 years it was, 'There's nothing wrong with our system and we'll defend it blindly.' Now people are trying to make those small, instructional changes that will hopefully create a system that is more fair in the future."" 


The student government's propensity to complain about tuition hikes while constantly increasing spending on student organizations-which raises the amount students pay in segregated fees-especially irks McCabe. 


""If you're going to fund these organizations you have to do it right and to fund them all fairly-that's a lot of money,"" he said. 


McCabe grew up in a divided household. His mom was a lawyer who did pro bono work for Planned Parenthood and other liberal organizations, whereas his father is more a ""Rush Limbaugh listening, all-American type,"" conservative. 


""I just spent a childhood where we were constantly discussing politics-that's what we talked about at the dinner table and Thanksgiving,"" he said.  


After doing some independent reading and thinking, he came to a number of conservative conclusions on many issues, but says he is still unsure of where he stands. 


""To this day I'm still trying to figure it out. Anyone who says they know what they are [politically] at the age of 22-They're just kidding themselves,"" McCabe said.

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