Recently, American Thinker published a blog I wrote titled “Confessions of an ex-Liberal.”
It was met with a range of responses from readers who welcomed me to the fold to those who felt mistrust, anger, and resentment to those who thought I was searching for some sort of pat on the back.
Thank you all for taking the time to post your comments. Reading through them stirred me to write a follow up piece that melds an issue I’ve been pondering for quite some time (political activism) with responses to a few comments.
Some readers expressed curiosity about what sparked my political evolution. I’ll answer that in a second, but first want to say that the subject of how to spark political change in others is one I am deeply interested in. In my own political activism, I am forever searching for the best approach to help a liberal see the light. So far, I haven’t found any sure fire answer, though I do have a few ideas.
Unless you’ve found some magical approach that works every time (in which case, do share!), I would discourage a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, think about the particular person, their areas of interest, and their personality. Then figure out a starting point that will be a good fit. For example, if people are intellectuals, expose them to someone like Thomas Sowell or Victor Davis Hanson. If they are religious, try raising an issue that would fit in with religious values. If there is an area where they seem weak or where they are starting to question the status quo (like the economy or their increasing tax burden), zero in on that. You might want to have one or two articles, books, or links to videos to give them. Don’t overwhelm them or get defensive. Just plant a seed. Offer to continue the conversation. Keep things friendly. If you seem to have too much of a vested interest and get all riled up, it’s over. And if they seem hopelessly dug in, I would say fuggetaboutit and just move on.
My own political evolution began in earnest back in 2008 with the rise of Barack Obama to power. Despite what we did not know about him (and still do not know), there was enough information to readily make an informed decision: He was bad news.
Watching Obama‘s ascent within the Democratic Party was eye opening for me. I began to educate myself more than I normally would prior to an election. Because the mainstream media was in the tank for Obama, I started visiting conservative blogs. The more I read, the more I learned. And bit by bit, my preconceived notions about conservatives began to collapse while my view of liberals/progressives began to shift dramatically. Over time, I started to embrace core principles of conservatism. Along the way, however, I brought along one vestige of my liberal past: political activism.
In 2008, I worked tirelessly for the McCain/Palin ticket. Although I was no great fan of John McCain and cringed at how he ran his campaign, it was a no brainer that we had to stop Obama from gaining power.
Part of my activism involved going door to door, talking with voters. What I encountered time and again speaking with conservatives was a dreadful kind of apathy. Some were not going to vote. Those who were planning to vote were doing nothing more than that. It was a real shocker because on the left political activism is very common.
It’s been thrilling to see the rise of the Tea Party and the proliferation of conservative blogs. It’s inspiring to see many former-liberals-turned-conservatives become powerful voices on the right. Perhaps some of that is due to how new converts can be hyper zealous. Perhaps some due to the habit of activism they carried over from when they were on the left.
In any case, this transformation from left to right triggers a question that haunts me: Why are some people able to take in opposing viewpoints? And perhaps more importantly, what are the necessary elements for that to occur?
As far as I can tell, it seems there is often a seminal event that starts the process. For many it was 9/11. For others it was Obama’s rise to power. At present, perhaps some who voted for Obama are beginning to wake up to the horrific impact he is having on this nation, and the world. (Emphasis on “perhaps” and “some.”)
I don’t know how the mind considers information that is contrary to a person’s world view. Why do some people let such information in without instantaneous rejection? Why do some take a few moments to reflect on it, even though it flies in the face of everything they believe?
I have no answers. All I can do is share my experience and hope it is of help to readers who are trying to open the eyes of others or for those non-conservatives who may starting a journey of their own.