Calling Strikes and Balls on Trump’s Conservatism

November 27, 2018

He speaks with his hands, pausing before finishing a thought in order to phrase it just right. He isn’t afraid to look you straight in the eye as he disagrees with you, but he never comes across as antagonizing and he never raises his voice.

Noah Tagliaferri, 21, is a fourth-year information science and philosophy double major at Northeastern University. He’s also a U.S. Marine reservist from Ashland, Massachusetts, which tends to vote liberal.

As the president of Northeastern’s College of Republicans, Tagliaferri speaks openly about Trump. But Tagliaferri didn’t vote for the Republican nominee in 2016. His support for the president only solidified after Trump took office.

“When he does things I like, I call strikes. When he does things I dislike, I call balls. Overall, through his presidency, I’ve called a lot more strikes than I’ve called balls. I don’t think, as of right now, the Democratic Party could put a candidate that I would support over Donald Trump,” he says, using the bowling metaphor to explain his reasoning.

Tagliaferri’s mother, Jill Mackavey, 59, is a part-time professor at Lesley University, where she teaches movement analysis. Mackavey still lives in Ashland, where she misses the “pep and zip” her son brings whenever he’s around.

She looks at her son’s support of the president differently. “I think he tries to look at each issue on a case-by-case basis and he respects the office of the president, but I would not call him a Trump supporter.”

When it comes to politics, Tagliaferri sticks out from his liberal-leaning family. His conservative views counter his parents’ liberal stances on almost every issue.

Tagliaferri says it was one of the most divisive issues in current politics that shifted his views: gun control.

In high school, Tagliaferri realized his perception was shaped entirely by what his parents told him and what the people around him held to be true. But this didn’t reflect his own voice. By the time he was 17, he had morphed into the conservative he is today, he says.

It was then that his views came to a head with his parents’, as he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. It had nothing to do with politics, but it had everything to do with a difference in beliefs.

Mackavey still struggles with Tagliaferri’s military involvement but respects his conviction to serve. “I think each human is called to do certain things or most of us feel some sort of a call and it could be in a very small way or on a larger scale. He responds to the archetype of the protector, the defender, the person who has to step up.”

John Van Kleeff, 22, a political science major at Rutgers University, became friends with Tagliaferri when they were seniors in high school, and remains a close companion, even now as seniors in college.

Kleeff, who also considers himself a conservative, believes Tagliaferri’s self-defined duty to step up is present in his political views. “He tries to bridge the gap between the liberals and conservatives on campus. He engages in conversations, he encourages political debates. He actually cares and he can see both sides.”

In discussing politics with Tagliaferri, this is clear. “I support the policies. I do this for pretty much all politicians. I have nothing against Bernie Sanders, I think Bernie Sanders is a great guy. I also think he has some of the most out-of-the-world, destructive policies I’ve ever seen. I think his policies could result in people dying. Do I think he’s a bad person? No.”

That doesn’t mean he won’t criticize the president. “Do I wish he would not tweet as much? Do I wish he would be more tactful? Do I wish he would be nicer? Sure, 100 percent. That said, I will agree with his policies a lot more than I agree with Bernie Sanders and I’ll vote that way.”

But to those who know him, Tagliaferri is more than his political views. “When conversations are about politics and the context of the conversations are political in nature, you don’t see the whole person sometimes,” Mackavey says.

Sam Zakrzewski, 21, a fourth-year chemical engineering major at Northeastern University, considers himself a moderate, if anything. He met Tagliaferri two years ago at the College of Republicans.

Zakrzewski’s comments about Tagliaferri mirror his mother’s. “He’s just like every other American. There’s nothing really incredible about it other than that he cares about people and he wants to do what’s right.”

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