Is Latin Becoming Less Liberal?

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.23.16 PM Brianna Yang and Bianca Stelian   The country is becoming redder. In the recent midterm elections, voters turned over the Senate, several House seats, several state legislatures, and several governor’s mansions over to Republicans. In Illinois, a traditionally Democratic state, former Latin parent and Republican Bruce Rauner won the election with the majority vote all but one county–Cook County, which was Republican candidate Bill Brady’s downfall in the 2010 Illinois gubernatorial election. But is this same trend happening within the walls of Latin? Is the student body becoming less liberal and more conservative? Bruce Bruce Bruce Much of the conservative stir at Latin came with the campaign of Bruce Rauner, parent of former students Matt Rauner and Katie Rauner. Some students believe that his popularity is due to his ties to Latin. As a junior, who wished to stay anonymous, noted, “I think when Bruce Rauner gained popularity, the Latin vibe shifted to being very conservative.” “I think that we’re biased because he’s a Latin parent,” said junior Connor Olson. Senior Catie Rose Pate agrees, “Family ties help because, mostly because we can’t make fun of the Republican candidate.” More than just family ties though, Bruce Rauner’s views on economic growth also helped him to gain traction with Latin students. One senior discussed why she thought Latin students were becoming more fiscally conservative, saying, “Kids at Latin are generally wealthier and the previous Democratic state government just couldn’t effectively manage Illinois’s economy because of the stands they have to take to stay a part of the Democratic Party.” Mrs. Gallagher’s Honors American Politics class certainly helped to inform the Latin community about Rauner’s policies. Though Latin is a place of predominantly liberal views, candidates (and faux candidates) were given equal ground in terms of presenting their platforms. A senior, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I think Latin brings in a disproportionate amount of liberal speakers to conservative ones. When we saw two Democratic, two Republican, two Libertarian, and two not-real-ish campaign ads for the politics class’s project, I think a lot of people realized that Bruce Rauner is great not only because he’s tied to Latin, but because he has a great agenda that hadn’t been introduced to us until now.” Liberal Speakers The small yet significant percent of Latin students who identify as conservative have voiced this complaint regarding speaker values for quite some time now. “I never hear anyone speak about my beliefs,” said one staunch Republican. “I’m not saying we need to bring in a million Republican speakers – I’d just like to hear speakers who have a variety of backgrounds and opinions.” Some Latin students believe that the overwhelming disproportion of liberal to conservative speakers hinders the sense of ‘community’ in the Latin School. “How are we a community if we only espouse one specific mindset?” argued a student. “The word ‘community’ really means ‘A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.’ Of course, we can’t expect all Latin students to share common political beliefs, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wish that we all stay open-minded.” Junior Connor Olson even sees this lack of community within classrooms at Latin. “Almost all my friends are liberal, but I also think we really need to hear both sides of the argument because it seems like the liberal opinion is being forced upon everyone. My friend even made a speech about the conservative views on immigration and almost everyone disliked it because they were liberals.” When asked why Latin students don’t actively seek out other viewpoints, Connor added, “I think it definitely could because we’re just teenagers–very few of us are going to be picking up a newspaper or looking online to learn about current events, so really the only way we get information on these topics is when we’re essentially forced to in a classroom or at assembly. If all you hear is one-sided views your whole life, you’re bound to believe in them.” Other students echoed these thoughts as well. “We only ever see liberal speakers. If you never see the other side, you tend to go moderate because it’s difficult to make a choice blind,” commented senior Catie Rose Pate. One senior put an optimistic spin on the idea. “People keep their views to themselves most of the time, so I can’t speak for the majority of the student body, but one example [of increasing conservatism at Latin] could be the Young Republicans club. We used to not have a conservative club until a few years ago, so people are becoming more willing to share their conservative views in a more liberal environment.”  ]]>