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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 12, 2024

How to survive as a non-liberal on a liberal campus


In 1951 a young Yale undergraduate wrote the book God and Man at Yale, which was a scathing criticism of the liberal ideological bent held by the instructional staff at Yale. The author, a young William Buckley, would go on to become the leading voice of the conservative movement during the second half of the 20th century. Unfortunately for those who share Buckley’s sensibilities, today the majority of collegiate institutions retain their liberal partisanship.

As a young and eager student stepping out of my sheltered Waukesha County home onto this campus, I was in for a cultural shock. The two locales couldn’t be more politically polarized. The difference was night and day.

Seeing citizens of Dane County rally at our state Capitol beating drums, misusing the Polish solidarity symbol, chanting and booing during the Scott Walker recall election made my blood boil. Walking down State Street and seeing the blatant liberal agenda in so many store fronts was aggravating. Listening to professors (in science classes, mind you!) harp on about the cold and heartless members of the opposing political party made me want to scream.

Through all this nonsense and lack of logic, I have still managed to hold true to my beliefs. Here is a list of advice for those of you who may find yourselves in similar situations to my own. While I haven’t personally done all the items on this list, I have done a number of them, and I can personally attest to their value in keeping a sane mind.

First, seek out non-liberal groups on campus. I personally recommend the group Young Americans for Liberty, which is a libertarian, student-run organization that combines fiscal conservatism with social liberalism for a dose of reason that you will not find in the classroom. I know our campus also has a College Republicans chapter which may be of interest to some. In addition, the campus has a Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy, which aims “to promote understanding and critical appreciation of the cardinal principles, institutions, and practices of liberal democratic polities… [by presenting] programs dealing with such topics as religious and political freedom; the free market; educational reform; limited government; constitutionalism and the rule of law; the promotion of liberal democracy in the world; the relationship between liberty and equality; and national security and the battle against terrorism.”

Second, major in Political Science. This one may seem rather counter-intuitive, but I have found many of the professors to be more liberty-oriented than one would expect. Plus, the discussions that you have with the professors and TAs are invaluable. Those professors that are liberal can provide a means by which we can learn from our ideological opposites so that we can further strengthen our beliefs.

Third, read basic economics textbooks. I personally recommend the Austrian economists, because Keynesianism is all about big government deficit spending. The book Economics in One Lesson is definitely a good place to start. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is indispensable when it comes to defending capitalism as the most socially beneficial economic system. And of course, don’t forget to read the Constitution. The 10th amendment, when read and compared to the influence of today’s federal government, may leave you confounded.

Fourth, volunteer for political campaigns. One of the benefits of living in a city so close to our state Capitol is that politicians are constantly looking for interns and aides to help out in their office and during the campaign season. You can’t get a better hands-on experience than a gig working for one of our representatives.

Fifth, stand up for yourself! You will definitely see individuals adorned in liberal pins and signage wherever you go on campus. Get pins and posters representing your individual beliefs and ideologies. I have two conservative pins on my backpack and I have only been berated once in public. A number of times an individual approached me and quietly whispered that he supported my views. It’s amazing when this sort of interaction occurs. It’s like it’s a secret or something; like it’s blasphemous or treasonous on this campus to believe anything other than the presented liberal drivel.

And finally, join The Daily Cardinal newspaper opinion section. The Daily Cardinal has a long history of espousing liberal ideals, but together we can take over the organization from the inside.

I wish you all the best with your endeavors! Be prepared to do battle against individuals that sound intelligent and emotionally appealing. Don’t be afraid to learn and adjust your views if you believe you were previously mistaken, but don’t cave just because you are a minority. We need more people just like you on this campus. I look forward to meeting you in the next few years. Good luck!

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Steven is a junior majoring in biochemistry and political science. Please send all feddback to

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