Parents & Politics: Latin Students at the Polling Place

Olivia Baker It’s safe to say that, at one point, we all thought whatever our parents said was correct. This was personally completely true for me growing up, and I saw my mother and father as if each was some sort of mythological god. Heck, if my dad said that eating paper was nutritious, you’d bet I’d be shoving it down my throat to no avail. And if I went against the grain of my parents’ desires, well, then I was in trouble. To this day, such a rigid dynamic can still exist between parents and a child. And the taboo subject of politics is no exception. Even though most of us in the school can’t vote yet, the Latin community remains politically active, and we all seem to have political views. According to a recent poll on Gallup, 71% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 side with their parents’ political views. 21% are more liberal, and the remaining 8% were more conservative. And these aren’t immutable standards; the numbers are still changing since the most recent election. Of this almost 30% of teens in the U.S., some exist here, at Latin. That is, these rebellious kids have different political views than their parents. For instance, Robert Kelly ’19 finds his father to be more conservative than him when it comes to several social justice issues. Perhaps this is the result of a generational shift of ideas, but Latin’s invisible hand, Robert believes, was the main culprit. “I think Latin has made me more liberal […] I think I’ve been exposed to interesting ideas from both sides, at least by the student body if not the actual school.” Mary Ellen Mack ’19 has had a similar experience with her family. Being a die-hard liberal, her views contradict those of her conservative father. “I believe Latin only furthered my standpoints, yet it also exposed me to sides that I never had the chance to experience. It was quite a change to have gone from a school where no kids talked about politics to one that had respectful and enriching debates” she said. But unlike those aforementioned, some internalize Latin’s sway differently. Some use Latin’s political leanings as amplifiers for their own beliefs. Self-proclaimed as “one of the only real conservatives at Latin,” Nick Schuler ’19 is the poster-boy for this movement. He’s the odd one out in a family where liberalism is a universally-held belief. Believe it or not, he was a Democrat for some time. His parents voted for Obama and he too was an admirer of the former president. “I used to be a Democrat because my parents were. They were never super open about their views […] You know, Barack Obama was from here. And I was young, so I didn’t know much about the issues. All I saw was the person— Obama, he’s a cool guy, very charismatic. And I took this as a sign that because Obama is a Democrat, Democrats must be cool.” But ever since eighth grade, his views were in question. Latin’s liberal platform, interestingly enough, was his main reason for change. “[Latin] kind of moved me to the right…because I see that basically everyone here is a Democrat, and I disagree with a lot of what they are saying. So naturally, [Latin] pushes me to the right,” Schuler said. “I see the liberal viewpoints, but I see through it. Most kids can never get through that wall.” So Nick, professed Democrat, waltzed his way over to the right for the sole reason that liberalism was manifested too heavily at Latin— he needed a change and was welcomed with open arms when he arrived in high school. Talk about impact of education (and irony). Each of these examples are similar in one way: the differences in beliefs foster a sense of respect. Robert, Mary Ellen and Nick seek independence from the comfort of their parents’ views, they have become increasingly able to see, and respect, both sides. In all three instances, their parents have an equal level of respect. “We don’t really talk politics with each other. We are pretty respectful of each other…They’re not mad at me that I’m Republican, they don’t care at all,” Schuler said. Perhaps Latin is indoctrinating us with ideas through a force greater than that of our parents. After all, why would Nick sacrifice his “coolness” for politics? But even so, it’s more than indoctrination. It’s diversification. “I believe that Latin has made progress in aiding students to choose a political standpoint that abides by their morals,” said Mack. “Through healthy discussion during class, assembly, and other community time, students have been able to develop an opinion for themselves by listening to others.”]]>