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A Conservative at Heart

Senior Leo Biral has grown as a political thinker from being challenged by his peers.

Henrik Meng

Senior Leo Biral has grown as a political thinker from being challenged by his peers.

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Conservative students are not in the popular opinion at MA’s predominantly liberal environment, but Biral sees his contrasting views with optimism, “It’s kind of hard not finding people who agree with you, but I actually see that as a positive. I mean not many people agree with me, but that means a lot of people disagree with me, so that means I get my opinions challenged every day.”

From challenge inevitably comes growth, and from Biral’s sophisticated articulation of what being a conservative means, it is clear that Biral’s definition of conservatism was far more defined than most other high schoolers.

“I started off thinking that being conservative means you don’t want things to change. [Being conservative] is very Christian right’s, very socially strong on issues, and pretty free market economically.”

However, Biral described how after coming to MA, and after being constantly challenged from disagreeing perspectives, his initial definition of conservatism changed.

He even acknowledged that his stance on social issues had softened to a more libertarian view, “I would now define conservative more as you want to protect the values that define America; that’s what you want to conserve. You want to conserve [the] values in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”

Biral sees President Trump and his new administration astray from the traditional conservative platform and said it was more people like Paul Ryan who kept the conservative ideology alive. Biral pointed out how some of Trump’s proposals leaned towards liberal policies, such as his promises to invest in vast “reconstruction” of infrastructure across the nation.

“If you look at Trump’s policies from the surface, he’s not very Republican; he’s pretty centrist. That should appeal to everyone here at MA in general.”

However, since, as Biral put it, “[Trump] is such a polarizing and controversial figure that liberals are always going to push him away,” there is a great tendency for opponents of Trump to view anyone who defends his statements or policies as equally as bad as Trump.

Biral points out how unfair this categorization of conservatives is, as they simply are trying to see Trump’s policies more objectively in defense the Republican party. This said, Biral has predicted increased political tensions at MA during the Trump presidency: “I don’t think [Trump] will fix anything; I think he’ll make it worse.”

Balancing today’s political extremes – in America and at MA – makes agreeing on issues an impossible task, but in Biral’s opinion, MA has made strides to improve political dialogue, “I think that our school has made some improvements, and has definitely made a commitment to teaching kids what’s going on with our current political climate, and key issues that divide the parties.” He commented on events like Conference on Democracy, and the Inauguration Day activities, but highlighted MA’s politics club as the best outlet for cordial political discussion.

Biral vocalized the difficulty of achieving an environment where everyone is perfectly respected, but said politics club is “one of the best places for even political discourse and respecting other people’s opinions, and having good discussions on issues.” Furthermore, Biral commented on how politics club tends to lean conservative, and acts as a safe-space for opinions that might not be as popular in classes.

Biral said that one of the fears he’s had and imagines others have shared, is the fear students will gossip about his perspectives behind his back. He said this happened to him once after a debate on a controversial issue. As a result of this fear, Biral believes politics club is a great step towards getting conservatives voices respected, “generally conservatives who don’t feel comfortable sharing their opinions in class, will feel more comfortable in that environment; so more conservatives tend to gravitate towards that club than liberals who generally already feel comfortable.”

Many conservative students tend to reserve their opinions to political safe habors, such as politics club, but Biral is devoted to openly sharing his conservative views.  As notably seen in his senior speech, which was somewhat of a manifesto for his conservatism, Biral has taken to heart what being a conservative means.

He’s stuck true to his core beliefs and is steadfast on conserving the beliefs that define America. But, he’s also been able to rethink and grow his perspective, reconstructing his outlook on conservatism. Through his general comfort engaging in civil disagreements and political discourse through his time at MA, Biral is confident in the strides the school has made.

“I appreciate the effort the school has made in increasing political discourse and understanding the other side.”

 

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