Election coaxes out Tam conservative views

Tamalpais High School senior Zack Garrison voted in his first election on November 2.  “I do have a Mill Valley bias, but I heard good things about [Jerry Brown] and he sounded like the best candidate,” said Garrison.  “What I heard was that Brown was easy on the whole drug policy issue. Other than that it was stuff I heard from other people.  My dad voted for him and he had a pretty compelling case, so I voted for him too.”

Although Garrison may openly express his liberal views, it’s not as easy for conservatives at Tam.

“There’s so much liberal ideology in this county. And when someone has a moderate viewpoint, it comes off as extremely conservative,” said senior Mark Hill, a non-voter. “To even throw out a conservative viewpoint in a social setting in Marin County is to commit social suicide.”

The November elections gave some Tam conservatives the rare occasion to offer their perspectives and stand out in a sea of liberals. Senior Monica Sheridan explained her support for Republican governor candidate Meg Whitman and fiscal conservatism. “The liberal perspective is that the poor need help and it’s our job to help them. It’s not their fault and it’s our duty to help them out. You didn’t get your way on your own, so it’s our job to help them,” said Sheridan. “I personally believe that there are people that need help, but they aren’t the majority.

“The conservative viewpoint is that the poor need to work their way up. They are responsible for their own decisions,” she said.

According to this line of thinking, which is shared by Whitman and many fiscal conservatives, the government ensures equal access and opportunity, but doesn’t guarantee equal outcome.

It’s like teaching someone how to fish. The conservative would want to teach someone how to fish but wouldn’t guarantee that they would catch anything. The liberal, according to Republican criticisms, would take fish caught by somebody else and share them with the unfortunate or ill-prepared who don’t have any fish.

Sheridan believes more students would accept this kind of fiscal metaphor if only they understood the difference between a liberal and a conservative.

“I’ve talked to plenty of Tam students that share a conservative viewpoint with me, but won’t agree that it’s associated with being conservative,” argued Sheridan. “All I have to say is that it’s California. The majority of people will vote liberal. People don’t understand the difference between liberal and conservative,” Sheridan continued. “[Tam students] think liberal is the better side [of politics] without knowing what it stands for.”

Tam students’ choice for governor strongly reflected this liberal leaning. Senior Michael Zimmermann said, “I think Brown would do better for people that don’t have steady jobs since he was for government spending and Whitman would be better for steady job citizens. If you’re wealthy, I don’t see a reason why you would vote for Brown unless you strictly vote within the Democratic Party and never cross party lines. Mill Valley is socially liberal and social liberals vote Democratic.”

Public statistics showed that Jerry Brown won the race over Whitman 54 percent to 41 percent, with the remaining votes going to other candidates.This margin of victory is far less than the margin shown in a Tam News poll. The poll, in which 89 percent of Tam students endorsed Brown over all other candidates, showed the liberal dominancy at Tam. Just 9 percent of students voted for Whitman and two percent voted for other candidates. Candidates were only showed on the Tam poll if two or more students voted for the candidate.

While Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman received the majority of the votes, Bear Grylls and Liam Burke also received votes. As illustrated by the numbers, there is an overwhelmingly liberal and Brown-favoring Tam opinion.

Mark Hill said, “Whitman was absolutely qualified with her background in business, which is why she appealed to the Republican Party. But we are in a Democrat state and the independents voted with the Democrats who viewed Whitman as more of the same.” Hill continued, “Don’t get me wrong, she’s a very successful businesswoman, but [Brown] has put in the time and has worked his way up the system. This is Whitman’s first time running for an elected office. Brown’s message was clear: ‘With me as governor, change will happen. Jerry Brown is a hope for positive change.’”

Zimmermann said, “A lot of people think Whitman has a lot of money, but I think it’s totally irrelevant. I mean, if you have money, why not spend it on your campaign if you’re running for governor?” Sheridan said, “All I have to say is that it’s California, the majority of people will vote liberal. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between liberal and conservative. It’s also not a surprise to me that the most liberal state [California] has the largest deficit. [Voters] are putting a lot of control into the government sector and not enough in the private sector.”

Perhaps this dominant liberalism at Tam has its risks. Junior Morgan Hill said, “The one reason why people [Tam students] are afraid to go against the norm is that they don’t want to be attacked by their friends. So, they just decide not to talk about their political views.”Morgan Hill continued, “If people actually took the time to listen, especially Tam students, then they would have a better judgment of their politics and be able to argue their points better.”

Written by Zach Wexman. The article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.