What It’s Like to Be A Republican in a Liberal Place Like New York City

Christina Grasso
What It’s Like to Be A Republican in a Liberal Place Like New York City
Photo: Getty

Last summer, I attended a fundraising event for the New York Young Republican’s Club. I rolled on in wearing black leather, a red lip, and the hair on my head, which is bleached nearly white and routinely disheveled.

“What’s Lady Gaga doing here?” a young gentleman whispered snidely. I rolled my eyes (out of amusement, by the way–I love her) and ordered a tequila on the rocks. “We’re only serving beer and cider,” the bartender said, exasperated. Apparently Republicans don’t drink tequila. Quelle horreur!

For the record, I wasn’t there as a dare or for a sociology experiment, contrary to what my fellow conservatives that evening initially thought. (“You look too liberal to be a Republican!” they said.) I went because I, Christina, am a passionate Republican. There, I said it. Talk about an elephant in the room.

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The thing is, I didn’t give politics a second thought until I hit high school, unless you count my bid for class president in the 8th grade in which I bribed my classmates with York Peppermint Patties for votes. Like my parents, I have always held conservative views on most issues, but growing up in a small, homogenous town and attending a Catholic school between the ages of 5-22, the majority of my political views were shared—if not taught.

That was, of course, until I moved to New York five years ago, and quickly learned that in a progressive city where pretty much anything goes except conservative politics, I am an anomaly. A unicorn. A mutant, even! Here, Republicans tend to be seen as creepy, close-minded, evil humanoids with killer wedgies who must be stopped, or so I’m told. It has been interesting to live in a city that throws its arms around people of all races, genders, religions, ethnicities, hair colors, sexual preferences, etc. (which is beautiful and wonderful and why I moved here in the first place, I might add) and yet, the people of an outnumbered political party are simply not okay. And if it sounds like I’m being overly dramatic, know that I was turned away from the polls last election day. Yeah, that actually happened.

One of my more liberal friends told me in a funny-but-serious manner that when she thinks of a Republican she pictures a middle-aged woman named Karen or Diane in an outdated, ill-fitting, itchy, pilled, polyester pantsuit (with a wedgie, probs). Just to set the record straight, last I checked my name isn’t Karen or Diane (which are lovely names by the way, to all Karen’s and Diane’s out there), I am not middle-aged (yet), and I don’t wear polyester pantsuits on the reg (or ever) but in the spirit of this free nation, I could if I damn well pleased. However, I do sometimes get wedgies, although I try my darndest to avoid them. You win on that one, liberal friend.

Despite my fervor for politics, few people beyond my close friends and family members (and now, I guess, the Internet) know where I stand, because I rarely discuss it, especially when it comes to stances on specific issues. I go to great lengths to avoid conflict in general and really love having friends (lol!), and because, frankly, it gets quite old to be repeatedly informed by strangers that simply because of my right wing views I am by default sexist, racist, and homophobic, among other horrible stereotypes, which could not be further from the truth, personally.  It’s rare that I have the opportunity to explain myself, and I shouldn’t have to—so I don’t. Tolerance, inclusivity, and compassion are much more important to me than any political standpoint and as a result, I steer clear of heated political conversations entirely because opposing views don’t always foster kindness, unfortunately.

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Like many voters this year, I am slightly (more like totally, but, whatever; trying to stay positive here) despondent over our choices in candidates across the board. I’m not a Donald Trump supporter, and I have never been less in love with a candidate than I am with Hillary Clinton, to put it gently. The latter, in New York, makes me an outlier and is an incredibly unpopular opinion, but something that seems to have been forgotten is that we are each entitled to our own. Different strokes for different folks. Championing your beliefs over another’s does not make you a better Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, pink, purple, whatever. It would make you kind of a jerk. And unfortunately, this election has turned so many of us into jerks, Democrats and Republicans alike. So going into tomorrow and beyond, let’s bear in mind that we are American before we belong to any party. Kumbaya, people! It is totally feasible to celebrate our personal beliefs without condemning those of our neighbors’. And also, we all get wedgies from time to time.

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