In Spanish, we have a popular saying that could be translated as “tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
I promise it sounds better in the original version.
This is a piece of wisdom I have always kept in mind when making and maintaining friendships, especially in college. In the end, the people we associate with and consider our friends say a great deal about who we are.
For that reason, as I read some of the speeches from the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, I wondered: Who are conservatives in this country “walking with”?
My understanding up to this point was that conservatives in the U.S. defended the so-called “small government,” which includes lower taxes, reduced public spending and protected Christian values, and relies on a world order favorable to private enterprise and trade.
Whether you agree with those positions or not, they offer many legitimate arguments necessary for healthy function of this democracy.
However, the shift of several conservative priorities under the ideological influence of Steve Bannon and the administration of President Trump raises questions about the future of both conservatism and democracy in the U.S.
Perhaps the most worrisome issue is the hateful and divisive rhetoric used by some in the Trump administration.
Claims such as that of taking undocumented immigrants “the hell out of this country” are neither appropriate for a president nor consistent with Christian values and standards of speech that conservatives are supposed to uphold.
The same applies for comments about media networks being labeled as “enemies of the American people.”
In a display of grandiosity I consider alarming, President Trump has also repeated the phrase “our movement” continuously in speeches since his inauguration.
In his inaugural speech, he said, “A historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
It is unclear whether that “movement” is his own or part of the new conservative identity. What is clear is the deviation of the “movement’s” values from traditional Republican ideology.
After all, President George W. Bush defended Islam as a religion of peace, and his father, President George H.W. Bush, promoted free trade with the drafting of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. Both of those positions are seemingly under fire by the new administration.
The conservative movement has changed dramatically in a dangerous way, and the shift has been far from positive.
Francisco Hernandez is a junior international studies major from Valencia, Spain.