Sometimes being a Democrat in Cody High School is like being from a different planet. People see us as aliens – foreign and unfamiliar. Like the proverbial needle in the haystack, unless you’re looking for us, you probably won’t find us because we don’t feel comfortable talking about our stances on politics.
“There are not many of us around, so you’re kind of part of the minority,” says junior Conall Keegan. “It’s kind of lonely.”
Being part of such a minority, it can be difficult to choose what political party to register under. Many Democrats who find themselves in this predicament have registered under the Republican party and nicknamed themselves “Registered Republicans”.
“When I registered to vote, it was a tricky decision,” senior Evan Wambeke says. “I either needed to stay true to my political beliefs or register Republican in order to have a greater say in primaries.”
He says that “being a person who leans more Democrat here is just like having an opposite opinion anywhere, you have to just bite your tongue at small silly things.”
Many CHS students are afraid to voice their opinions out of fear of being outcasted or insulted.
“I kind of have this political radar, where I make sure it’s safe for me to say something,” says junior Dorothy Shippen. “I’m more afraid to say something because I don’t want someone jumping down my throat. I feel like people are harsh about your opinions.”
Many liberal-leaning students denied interviews because they were afraid of the reaction they might get if their peers knew that they considered themselves to be Democrats.
“I feel like I have to be in the closet [politically] as a Democrat because most of my friends are Republican, and I don’t want my opinions to ruin my friendships,” says junior Emma Heydenberk.
People assume that we are Republican because we live in Wyoming. They often make offensive jokes about “stupid liberals,” assuming that everybody agrees with their opinions.
“I really don’t feel welcome to share my opinion in classes,” says junior Trisha Tamblyn. “I’m always scared to post anything [to social media] involving my political opinion and end up proofreading it about a hundred times to make sure I’m not being offensive, and [I] still end up having people tell me that I’m stupid and should give up.”
Tamblyn says she often gets berated when she talks politics with fellow students.
I am in no way saying that we “Young Democrats” are without fault in these jumps to judgement, but someday soon we should all be able to see beyond our red and blue walls, and become more unified in the red, white, and blue that we are all a part of.
“Just because I have different beliefs doesn’t mean I hate the other party or think they’re all unintelligent or even disagree with everything they stand for. It simply means my beliefs line up more on the different side,” says Wambeke.
No matter what political party you are (or are not) a part of, tolerance of each other is important. High school is hard enough, and feeling like you can’t use your voice only makes it harder. We’re all Cody High School students, and we should be inclusive of one another rather than excluding those who think differently than the majority.