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Students, teachers discuss shifts in political ideologies

Lorna Ding
Government teacher Dominique Camara checks in with her students during an activity in class on April 20. Camara said people tend to have the similar political views as their parents.

According to a study conducted by Penn State University in 2015, 51.2% of children reject their parents political ideology or political affiliations. Erika Lawrence, member of Young Democrats Club and sophomore, said her ideologies have shifted slightly from her parents’ views.

“Growing up in a more diverse society than my parents did, I have found that my political beliefs have shifted slightly from what they grew up with,” Lawrence said. “I like to believe that I am more accepting than my parents were, which has definitely influenced my political beliefs.”

Government teacher Dominique Camara said she has seen other students like Lawrence make that shift.

“Overall, you see that certain common history tends to have an effect on an entire society where you can tend to see political shifts happen from generation to generation,” Camara said. “One major example for this is after the pandemic, you can see a major shift in different people’s political beliefs.”

Jacob Bailey, president of Young Republicans Club and senior, said his own political beliefs have changed over time.

Jacob Bailey, president of Young Republicans Club and senior, campaigns at polling areas during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Bailey said his political beliefs have changed over time. (Submitted Photo: Jacob Bailey)

“I think that coming into high school, I was definitely more on the side of neo-conservative politics,” Bailey said. “As I went through high school, I ended up shifting to more of a progressive republicanism, which is this idea that we need to progress as we conserve some of the ideas that we have in our foundation.”

Still, despite the trends, Camara said for the most part, people tend to align with their parents’ political ideologies.

“This is a phenomenon known as political socialization, which is the process of how we mature our political beliefs over time,” she said. “It really depends, since from a young age our families are the primary influence over our political ideologies. However, there are some pivotal ways that can change the world. A pivotal time where people can change their political beliefs is during that sort of ‘coming of age’ time, where you are exposed to new viewpoints and perspectives that you might not have heard of or seen before.”

Government teacher Michael O’Toole said there are a few different reasons why children shift away from their parents’ political beliefs.

O’Toole said, “For the most part over the past few years parents, especially when it comes to political ideologies, have tended to see more indoctrination. Parents would tend to tell their children that their political beliefs are facts or the right answer. As children tend to get older, then you see people start to challenge their parents’ political beliefs and adopt a new political ideology. One big reason for this could be course work that they take in high school or college, and just learning about different political beliefs.”

Lawrence said she would be comfortable expressing her political beliefs.

“I think that I am able to comfortably express my political beliefs, but I would just need to be prepared for any political backlash that I could get from people who believe differently than what I do,” she said.

Erika Lawrence, Young Democrats Club member and sophomore, looks at the Young Democrats’ club Instagram account on April 20. Lawrence said joining the club has allowed her to define her political views. (Lorna Ding)

Bailey said the Young Republicans Club can help people express their political ideologies.

“One thing about our generation is that while we are more politically active, I feel like there is a lot of unchecked progress in our generation as a whole regarding political beliefs. Now it ultimately seems like a bad thing to express your beliefs. So with Young Republicans, it is a space where people can express their political beliefs without having to face any backlash,” he said.

Lawrence said she agreed with Bailey on this when it comes to being a part of Young Democrats as well.

“It helps because I get to be with people that share my political beliefs and it helps me further define my views a little more,” Lawrence said. “We have a lot of discussion about new bills that are being passed and what our response to that is. It is a lot of discussion to kind of help define your political views in America.”

Bailey said people do not have to stick with what their political alignment believes in their whole life.

“It is important to know that everybody believes their political beliefs for a reason,” he said. “Personally, I am trying to re-shape this idea that Republicans are for regression and neo-conservatism.”

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    Grace GuoMay 10, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Wow! Interesting source perspectives!