(The first half is here.)
It’s not fun being on the right side of the political spectrum, folks. At least not if you’re me.
I miss a lot of things from my days on the left side. I miss being able to make really passionate arguments and believe in them with my whole heart. I miss the true confidence in my positions that I used to have, from a moral standpoint.
It’s especially difficult if, like me, you enjoy reading but don’t retain numbers well. I might read a very logical, coherent, convincing article but be unable to use it in a discussion later because I can’t remember the details. Trust me, there’s NEVER any danger of my losing the forest for paying too much attention to the trees. It comes down to my reading an article or a blogpost, thinking “that makes so much SENSE!”, and *still* not being able to articulate my position on the discussed issue.
But once you flip, how do you go back?
Once you decide that most soldiers are upstanding, decent, intelligent people, and every soldier you’ve met nicely supports that assumption, how do you go back to thinking they are children who can’t think for themselves and are being exploited by the neocons?
Once you decide that the bigger government is, the more inefficient and greedy it becomes, how do you go back to thinking that all social problems would be fixed if we properly funded them?
Once you decide that the problem with education isn’t lack of funding — see the schools in DC — but a screwed-up union and an ossified system which disregards merit, how do you go back to “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber”?
Once you decide that affirmative action is generally not a good idea because race preferences are generally not a good idea, no matter what the context, how do you go back to supporting ethnic preference in government contracts? (Clarence Thomas is the uber-perfect example here; I railed at him for decrying affirmative action when the only reason he had gotten on the Supreme Court was to be The Black Justice. It NEVER crossed my mind that perhaps he was QUALIFIED for the job. Witness my soft bigotry.)
Once you decide that some people — NOT ALL PEOPLE, NOT MOST PEOPLE, but some very small percentage of people — are poor because they won’t work hard enough to get un-poor, how do you go back to believing that, because there are poor and hungry in our country, our nation has failed?
(Note: These aren’t strawmen. The ideas to “go back to” are ones that I believed, truly.)
And more importantly . . . if you could go back, would you want to?
The answer in my case is . . . well, yes, sometimes, I do.
I still shiver when I think something like that — some people are poor because they won’t work hard enough to be un-poor. I wonder if it’s a callous, shallow, evil thought. I would never say it around my friends who lean liberal, because I’m afraid that I would genuinely horrify them, and maybe rightfully so. I would never suggest to them that maybe we shouldn’t have more welfare, we should have more personal accountability. Some of these liberal friends are spending their lives and careers working with the underprivileged, and I think I would sound unbearably self-righteous and uncaring. With them, I fall back to the old-fashioned attitude that it’s not nice to discuss politics or religion with company.
Which begs the question . . . why am I doing it in this blog???
Because I’m tired of reading all sorts of things I agree with and then not being able to form my own, coherent opinion on it. Because I need to be more honest, instead of relying on assumptions. Because I need help figuring out what I believe in, and why, and then articulating it. Because as things go right now, I assume that my friends and family wouldn’t agree with any of my viewpoints, so I keep them to myself — where they do not get developed OR challenged. And that’s not useful.
Finally, because I need to grow a thicker skin. When I said in my “About” page that I’m a professional middle child, I meant it. I pride myself on my “schmoozing” skills, in that I can get along with and entertain just about anybody. But, conversely, I quake when writing things that I *know* my nearest and dearest think are wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t like rocking the boat, and I’m pretty thin-skinned when it comes to their approval.
I’m hopeful that by blogging, not only will I be forced to better develop my thoughts and positions, but I’ll be better able to handle the political discussions at home. Since my flip, it’s been hard for me — I don’t want to tell everyone they’re wrong, since 1) it’s just my opinion, like they have their opinions, and 2) when I came home as a Poli-Sci student in college I was UNBEARABLY insufferable. (I once snottily informed my mother that red wine does NOT go in the fridge, and was properly, and vigorously, put in my place.) But I’m a very talkative person by nature, and when they all get to chatting about how stupid Bush is, I don’t know what to do. And on the other side, it’s hard for my family, because these people genuinely love me, and sometimes genuinely worry that I’m becoming a more shallow, uncaring person.
With all of this pouring out of me, you might wonder why I say my blog will not be a political blog. The answer is that I’m not smart enough or dedicated enough for that. The good political blogs do it for a living, and they’re both educated and diligent enough to do a good job. Or, you have blogs like Bookworm’s, who is so articulate, intelligent and logical that it’s a pleasure to read. I can’t do that and so I’m not going to try. (BTW, Bookworm is very educated and very diligent; she just doesn’t do it for a living.)
I’m going to try and do what interests me. That means that I’m going to take notes on my daily life in the interests of keeping a daily journal, so that I can look back at what I was thinking at the time. (If I’d done that back in 2003 to 2005 I’d have a much better idea of what, precisely, caused my flip. Right now my family kinda-sorta thinks it was dating my fiance, which just isn’t true.) That means tracking my progress in domestication, as I try to go from being a single young woman to a responsible married one. That means keeping track of my hobbies, the brand-spankin-new one being guns, shooting and Second Amendment Rights. That means posting about my cat, ’cause he’s an incredible doofus and adds incredible joy, and cat fur, to my life. And, occasionally, it will mean political coverage that entertains me for some reason or another. In other words, my blog idol is Breda, though she keeps telling me “not Marvelous Breda, or OMG Breda, just Breda!” I kind of beg to differ.
Finally, I’ll confess to y’all what made me go through these “mindset” posts. I got a note from a family member who very, very nicely, and very, very gently let me know that s/he probably wouldn’t be reading my blog anymore, ’cause s/he felt I was wandering into an “icky” direction. S/he also very, very politely asked me to reconsider aiming barbs at my family. (S/he also congratulated me on having fun with my blog and encouraged me to keep writing what I wanted, so think three times before dissing this person in the comments.) Folks, I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — I love my family, they are intelligent, they are smart, and they are caring. I don’t agree with them (now) about a lot of things, and that should be okay. When I criticize things they believe in, it’s because I USED TO BELIEVE IN EXACTLY THOSE SAME THINGS and don’t anymore. It doesn’t make me smart and them stupid; in fact, I know for dam’ sure some of them are way smarter than me.
I’m pretty sure that the problem is mine — remember how one of my goals is to grow a thicker skin? — since I know they don’t WANT me to feel like a leper during political discussions. I don’t hope to convert them to my point of view, as that’s not my place. My goal is that we can have a discussion where we both hear both sides, they ask me about my reasons and try to poke holes in them, I ask about their reasons and try to poke holes in them, and then we end by laughing and agreeing how politicians are ridiculous creatures in general. And I hope that this blog both siphons off any ranting that I might be tempted to do and forces me to more diligently challenge and support my own arguments. Lord, let it be so!
WHEW! Okay enough with all that! Thanks for listening, thanks for letting me get this off my chest, and the next post will be light and fluffy. I promise!
UPDATE: BorePatch linked. Thanks!
UPDATE 2: Neo-Neocon herself linked! Thanks!
UPDATE 3: Tam linked! Thanks!
UPDATE 4: Wow, the hits keep coming; welcome, everyone! If you liked my “mindset” posts, you might want to check this one; also, I give credit-where-credit-is-due to my family here
UPDATE 5: To everyone who linked — thank you, very much! Edudito, Smallest Minority, Snowflakes in Hell, Conservative Grapevine, and Trying to Grok. Other links can be found in Part I, but any more that roll in will be noted here. Namely, Firearms & Freedom, Cold Fury, American Digest, BabyTrollBlog and Opinionated Technie. Thanks!