As a Democrat still holding out for that mythical unicorn of a presidential candidate, I have found myself in the middle of a minor identity crisis. I am not ready for Hillary, and I am far from feeling the bern.

A CBS poll released in October revealed that just 35 percent of polled registered voters consider Hillary Clinton to be “honest and trustworthy.” No wonder—while a long political history has shaped Clinton into an experienced candidate, it has also left her blemished by scandal after scandal. Her candidacy strikes a foreboding chord of inevitability, so much so that she can apparently get away with avoiding reporters on the campaign trail and changing her policy platform about as frequently as new polls are released.

Theatrically referred to as the “surprise threat” in the introduction to the CNN debate, self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders stands virtually no chance of victory. While perceived as more trustworthy than his competitors, his supposed authenticity as a bastion of progressive values seems shaky at best, given they also happen to be the values of his constituents. While consistent in his focus on rectifying economic inequities, his relatively conservative voting record on gun control measures signifies a more tactful politician than first meets the eye.

And so, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I could support a Democrat that I don’t yet believe in; on the other, I could consider the thought of sending my vote to—dare I say it—a Republican.

Right now, I’m scanning my options. I know, I know, it’s crazy. At least my friends say so whenever I make statements as controversial as: “Wow, Carly Fiorina actually did a pretty good job in that debate!” or “I don’t know, I can kind of see the appeal of John Kasich” or, worse yet, “Well, I’m not too sure Ben Carson said it exactly as [insert media outlet] reported.”

Raised eyebrows, suspicious glares and visceral reactions typically follow these kinds of observations. Most commonly, however, fellow students tend to respond to my apparently outlandish comments with an instinctual sense of disbelief that a given Republican presidential candidate could ever possess any positive characteristics. Of course, this type of partisan reaction is not specific to Democrats—those who follow party lines are constantly conditioned to demonize anyone with a separate set of values.

After spending three years on a predominantly liberal campus, I feel that I have learned the ropes of how to appear politically astute and socially conscientious. Actually, it’s quite simple: absorb political sound bytes, scoff at Republicans and turn a blind eye to any faults in progressive ideology. If you don’t believe me, find out for yourself. Next time you hear someone say, “Carly Fiorina got fired from H.P. because of her incompetence,” find out if they can describe how other technology companies performed between 1999 and 2005. Pay attention next time you find yourself at a viewing party for a Republican debate, and count the number of times you cannot hear the candidates answer questions over shouts of “He’s lying!” When you find yourself in an emotionally charged conversation about how Bernie Sanders will even the economic playing field, see if your peers can reconcile his spending proposal of $18 trillion over the next decade with a ballooning national debt.

By no means am I suggesting that individuals need to know everything about every issue for which they have an opinion, nor do I mean to deny that there are many Democrats on this campus with an impressive mastery of the issues. But it does seem peculiar that, for a party so focused on criticizing Republican “ignorance” on issues ranging from women’s health to gun control, Democrats on the whole sure do seem awfully prone to selectively processing new information.

I believe in two aspects of the U.S. political system wholeheartedly. First, an overwhelming majority of Americans are compassionate and driven by their values. Second, an overwhelming majority of Americans funnel their political views through an “us-against-them” lens of analysis. Republicans and Democrats alike fight for values that are worth fighting for; they simply disagree about how best to actualize these values through policies. As political agents, however, we fool ourselves into believing that complexities in policies are not the cause for our disagreement so much as is the moral degeneration of other-minded Americans.

In a partisan bubble, it can be intellectually simpler to pretend that every issue has a clear solution and that every person with a different opinion embodies some evil archetype. In reality, however, politics are grey. Hopefully, liberal readers can name a Republican they respect and conservative readers can identify a progressive policy they support, because both parties are ultimately just two sides of the same coin. But for now, on a campus saturated with one type of socially acceptable ideology, I am hopelessly liberal: deeply progressive, but vehemently opposed to associating with a political party that, at least on campus, is characterized by blind faith in progressive visions and exaggerated attacks against conservative thinkers.

Brendan McCartney is a Trinity senior. His column runs on alternate Thursdays.