Like many colleges, Colby tends to be a very liberal-leaning campus, but there is a club for conservative-leaning students.The Colby Republicans aim for students on the other side of the aisle to be more politically active. Chris Shorey ‘16, the president of the club, expressed that he feels that it is difficult to be a Republican on campus. He also wanted to clear the air about misconceptions people might have about Republicans at Colby.
Shorey’s point was not to encourage more students to have conservative views, but to encourage a more open dialogue between people with different political beliefs.
According to Shorey, the views of most members of the Colby Republicans tend to be “fairly fiscally conservative, but when it comes to social issues, very moderate.” He stated that typically “views on social issues tend to differ depending on a persons religious or familial backgrounds. As a club we stand for equality for all and for that reason tend to lean towards moderate social views.” He added that while anyone identifying as a Republican is welcome in the club, they tend to be very careful about supporting candidates that may have socially conservative views, such as politicians identifying with the Tea Party.
Despite Shorey and the Colby Republicans’ lack of social conservatism, Shorey still feels that students at Colby often tend to have a very poor immediate reaction when hearing he identifies as a Republican.
“There’s a very common thought on this campus that the idea of being a Republican on campus or any association with conservatism is associated with bad or evil,” Shorey said. The club has attempted to work to combat these misconceptions, and has participated in open debates with the Colby Democrats that Shorey feels have allowed people to get a better sense of the club’s true positions.
However, Shorey still wishes there was more open dialogue with people on campus about political issues. When asked what he would most want to change about people’s misconceptions of conservatives, Shorey stated, “a lot of times on this campus we ask for more dialogue. And I feel like when people are asking for dialogue on certain issues, they don’t want the more conservative view on those issues. I think that’s unfair, and I think that a lot of misconceptions about the Colby Republicans and conservative views in general could be gone if we included all sides of the coin issue when we’re discussing an issue.”
Shorey also blamed general misconceptions about modern-day conservatism on the media, saying that people tend to believe that all people identifying as Republicans share the stereotypical Republican beliefs the media portrays, which is not the case. “If we were more open to hearing conservative views than those misconceptions could be dealt with,” Shorey added.
The Colby Republicans have about 80 members, and Shorey stated that about 25 of them signed up this year, mostly freshman. While he acknowledged that the club has been less active this year due to it not being an election year, Shorey said that people still often approach him about joining the club. The club stays active in the local Waterville community politically and generally works on state-level elections.
Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential elections, Shorey said that the club has not made any decisions about candidates to support, but will likely side with a more moderate candidate in the primaries. “At this point we’re just keeping our ear to the ground,” Shorey said, adding “we’re hoping for a more moderate candidate than the Trumps and the Carsons. Someone like a Jeb Bush or a Marco Rubio, we’re kind of hoping one of those guys rise to the front.” Shorey also added that he personally is leaning towards supporting Rubio, because he’s “very moderate but very fiscally conservative, my kind of guy.”
Shorey is a Maine native who is especially interested in state-level politics himself.He has worked for Maine governor Paul LePage during his time at Colby and hopes to someday serve in the Maine House or Maine Senate. But for now, he is trying his best to stay politically active at the College and make sure students who might hold conservative beliefs have the chance to be active too.
“I think there are a lot more conservatives on this campus than you might think,” Shorey said. “They’re just scared to voice their opinions because of this image on campus that Republicanism is bad.”