From the Editors’ Desk: TU conservatives are beating liberals at politics


graphic by Tyler Herron

Political and moral opinions should be taken seriously. They’re opinions about the sorts of things that demand passionate belief and deserve fervent defense. If you’re not committed to your political beliefs, why hold them? And if you’re not going to act on them, are you really committed?

Ever get a “˜common sense’ intuition that most here lean liberal? Yeah, us too. And the conservative student group Tigers for Liberty (TFL) gets away with painting the student body as a horde of progressives. Are they right?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell. The predominance of progressivism seems to be a sleepy one, one without much passion or fervor, and distributed among many smaller initiatives rather than headed by a unified front.

Student activism has been historically marked by agitation and rabble-rousing. On Feb. 13, 2003, Trinity students, faculty and staff joined roughly 1,500 San Antonians in a march against then-President George W. Bush’s intentions to invade Iraq. Numerous demonstrations followed, including picketing on the Esplanade.

In November of 2011, the Trinity Progressives “” which had just rebranded from their former title of College Democrats “” sat in an Occupy Trinity tent at that year’s Student Activism Fair. (As far as we can tell, that was Trinity’s only such fair to date.) This, just after they held a rally to protest former President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to implement EPA recommendations against smog emissions.

Spirits seem to have simmered down as of late. Monthly meetings and Coates tabling events make up the majority of what we’re seeing from left-leaning students.

Meanwhile, many public political acts have been performed either by campus conservatives or in service of their causes. TFL has held a monopoly on what ought to be bipartisan topics: TFL planted 2,977 small U.S. flags in the lawn near Miller Fountain in honor of the victims of 9/11 this year. They occasionally roll an oversized “˜free speech’ beach ball around campus, inviting students to write anything on it they’d like.

Further, their leadership has successfully raised thousands of dollars in order to bring firebrand knuckleheads like Milo Yiannopoulos and Dinesh D’Souza to campus over the years. We’re not saying these two represent an advancement of the conservative cause, but at least it’s something.

The campus Republicans have it figured out, and they’re good at what they do. They work with outside organizations and Texas conservative leaders, attend conventions in D.C. to learn how to advance conservative goals on campus and reach out to media outlets outside of San Antonio.

TFL is on a PR roll. Heck, one of them is on Trinitonian payroll. Yet few bother to respond to Manfred Wendt’s outwardly conservative opinion columns.

If you disagree with his outlook and can’t be bothered to overcome it with better arguments, that should worry you. It’s an application of an ageless adage: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. But you probably disagree. So see if you can beat ’em.

Where’s the left’s rejoinder? Who’s the bleeding-heart liberal chomping at the bit to apply for our opinion columnist vacancy? And why aren’t students demonstrating on campus, perhaps by boycotting Aramark for allegedly violating human rights at the privatized prisons it serves?

We’re putting the point too strongly, and on purpose. It’s not like Trinity Progressives and the oodles of other student organizations with generic-but-liberal-ish intentions like sustainability and environmentalism don’t do anything.

Case in point: People get pretty fired up about immigration politics here, and it’s good to see a vibrant dialogue on the issue. But for every student-organized SB4 Teach-In, there’s a Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture, a Reading TUgether selection and a Maverick Lecture.

Our guess is that liberal-leaning students are growing complacent because the university itself will pay for a regular schedule of sedatives in the form of lecturers and events that satisfy most progressives’ mild itch for political involvement.

Is simply knowing that the university is going to play the activism role enough? What about the value of being the one who mobilizes peers and organizes rallies yourself?

What we’re saying is, your opposition keeps on winning. So prove that your opinions aren’t a matter of mere fashion, show them you’re not willfully ignorant, and awaken from that dogmatic liberal slumber.