Seeing red in a sea of blue

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Kylie Hawes, a senior at Steamboat Srings High School and a Republican, often finds herself alone on the right at school.

— I never really understood what Sammy Kershaw meant when he sang about not talking about "politics religion or her : because politics can start a fight." until my sophomore year in high school.

That would be 2004, or perhaps more accurate to this column, the year President Bush was up for re-election against John Kerry.

I am a Republican. Along with our politicians in both congressional houses, I am the minority political viewpoint, but instead of being the minority on Capitol Hill, I am the minority at Steamboat Springs High School. Understandable when you consider the fact that Routt County went democratic in the aforementioned presidential race. Surprising, if you take a 15-minute drive out of Steamboat Springs in any direction. Rural Routt County is home to many ranchers. Call me a profiler, but aren't ranchers generally Republicans? Yes, but they too are in the minority.

Perhaps, therein lies the true hallmark of American democracy. As Americans, we still have a guaranteed right to free expression of our views and opinions, whether we are in the minority or in the majority.

Don't worry. I am not here to spell out my political beliefs, even though I have the freedom to do so.

But there have been times in High School where my political views came directly under attack.

It seemed that as soon as I developed my political alignments, I was on the defensive. It was really only that summer (before the presidential election) that I began to care about politics, and that fall I was defending these newfound political opinions and my right to hold and express them.

I was the only one of 10 girls who was a Republican at the table I regularly ate lunch at. As election day came near, the discussion at the table turned to Bush's job as president. I sat and ate in silence as the talk continued. The second day I requested the discussion refrain from politics. What followed was a rather heated debate - one on nine.

I jabbed back for five minutes before I realized the hypocrite I was making of myself. They had as much of a right to their opinions as I did! This revelation seemed to have less of an impact on the other girls, because the next day at lunch seemed to be much the same. I ate lunch at another table for the rest of the week, but things were able to turn back to normal after the election.

This event really asserted my semi-wavering Republican viewpoints. Looking back, it was rather comical as I am sure our "debate" was far from intellectually based.

Most importantly, I gained a full understanding of true democracy in letting others express their views, even if I had to temporarily suppress mine.

Kylie Hawes is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School.

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