March 1st, 2013

Political change revisited

I’ve got a new article up at PJ on—what else?—political change, from left to right.

We could use a little more of that.

18 Responses to “Political change revisited”

  1. Capn Rusty Says:

    You’ve come out! You have a name!

  2. Richard Aubrey Says:

    There are lots of Jean Kaufmans. Look for the one with the apple.

    I have enjoyed the stories of libs coming over. One thread seems to be a feeling of having been betrayed–hugely in the case of David Horowitz–or at least by one’s peers at college, or the bubble in which one happens to live.

    Introspection is chancy and not subject to objective correction, so the reason those of us who have been conservative (“right” all along) is hard to nail down. Would be nice to know, but I’m not the place to start, at least as regards myself.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    I look at it less as a political change, since it isn’t, as the realization that what factions one considers good and evil have been inverted all along in truth.

    A warrior’s ethics, spirit, and beliefs never changed. He just maybe found out that there were more honorable and good masters to fight for.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    I’ve written articles under my name at PJ and elsewhere for about four years or so, actually (longer at other places, and for about a year at PJ). You may have missed it.

    One thing about PJ is that they’ve never been able to index ALL my articles (under neo-neocon and Kaufman) at the same place.

  5. Capn Rusty Says:

    Neo: Yeah, I know. I’m teasing.

    PJMedia is taking a real beating as a consequence of changing their comments software. Especially on Belmont Club.

  6. carl in atlanta Says:

    Nice writing Neo.

  7. G Joubert Says:

    I saw your piece, and it’s an interesting phenomenon, how people make that migration. Studying it might inform us of ways to assist and accelerate the process, if we can.

    That said, I personally cannot relate. I was raised in a conservative home, and conservatism was inculcated in me from day one. In the late 60s/early 70s, as a young adult, I considered and dabbled with alternatives; it was either the youth movement zeitgeist prevalent then, or the normal journey one undertakes, or ought to, when transitioning to being one’s own person, or both. Either way, by 1980 I was back in the conservative fold.

    Things have changed radically in some ways. Liberals nowadays bear little in common with liberals then. Hubert Humphrey and JFK, to name a couple, would be severely out of step as liberals in the modern era. And Republicans these days have no cojones. What a mess.

  8. southernjames Says:

    I’d like to say I became a conservative for mature, intellectual reasons. In reality, it was based on immature emotion.

    See…I grew up idolizing RFK and the Kennedys in general, based on everything I had read; watching 60 Minutes right from the start as a young teen – and thinking it was a “balanced” watchdog of the GOVERNMENT as a whole; loving every minute as a young teen of Gary Trudeau skewering the Nixon Admin,,thinking Archie was the dingbat and not Meathead, etc., etc. ……..

    By the time I hit college, I was somewhat of an apolitical “common sense” sort of “moderate” who was anti-Reagan – after all, he was just an amiable and not too smart ex-actor, right? I was smug in my knowledge the “best” candidate was third party common sense moderate guy, named John Anderson.

    And then…….a realization washed over me one day, triggered by Gary Trudeau (who had gone into retirement during the Carter years, and then came out of retirement for the ’80 election) that I was being propagandized to. Doonsebury (back in the days when it was ONLY in the comics section) went on a “Trip through Reagan’s Brain,” and it was non-stop, day after day after day, in the run-up to the election. The days turned into weeks, with NO counter skewering of Carter and his failed presidency.

    It really pissed me off. I felt like I was being had. I didn’t like being told how to think. With me — my favorite cartoonist overplayed his hand….I voted for Reagan as a youthful and immature way of giving him and all the other propagandists the middle finger.

    AFTER that election, is when I started paying attention to media bias, the “narrative,” and the true differences between conservatism and liberalism.

    There are many roads to our shared destination, aren’t there.

  9. Gringo Says:

    My change was gradual. At my regional high school, I realized that virtuous liberals from the dominant town also made fun of the “farmers” from my town. Hypocrites who condemned hardhats and rednecks for not being “inclusive” but who were just as guilty of fostering a us-versus-them group mentality when it came to “dumb farmers.”

    While an undergraduate I worked for two years at institutions for psych patients and the mentally retarded. From that experience I developed skepticism towards those who said that they had a social program which would solve things: all they needed was money. I saw with my own eyes that spending money was no guarantee of the effectiveness of a social program. That doesn’t mean that money should be not spent to ameliorate the situations of the less fortunate. It does mean that claims of predicted results from spending money on a given social program are most likely grandiose and not based on reality.

    I had a JFK poster in my childhood bedroom. A childhood friend worked one summer at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport. His conclusion: while the Kennedys presented themselves as rich people with a conscience, they were merely rich people. IOW, Hypocrites. Why does that word keep coming up with regard to liberals?

    Most likely as a result of having a childhood friend die in a gun accident with his brother, I became a conscientious objector [1-O] during the Vietnam War. I feared killing, as I knew some of the consequences of killing: how the poor brother suffered over what he accidentally did to my friend, his younger brother. The genocide in Cambodia showed me that as long as thugs roam the earth, no one’s hands are clean. We Gave Peace a Change, and got genocide. No more Peace Democrat for me.

    While at one time I agreed with Jimmy Carter that we had an “inordinate fear of Communism,” the invasion of Afghanistan reminded me of the many Iron Curtain refugees that I knew from growing up in my hometown. It wasn’t that they had told me horror stories about life under Communism- they were reluctant to talk about that time- but that their being here in the US acted as a silent reproach to the “inordinate fear of Communism” crowd. I could also detect a common reticence among a number of the refugees, as if time under Communism could mold one in a certain way.
    My time as a tourist and as an oil field engineer in Latin America showed me that the “progressive” catechism about Latin America did not accurately describe the facts on the ground. Subsequent library research confirmed my on-the-ground observations. It could be said that my time in Latin America turned me from a progressive of the left into an evil right-winger. I also knew Iron Curtain refugees in Latin America- including coworkers.

    In a nutshell, that is how I changed from a Liberal to a Post -Liberal. It was life experience more than reading that caused the change- though reading obscure sources about the Sandinistas and about Chile certainly had an effect on me.

    [In her article, Neo mentions David Horowitz as one lefty who changed to conservative. I have never met David Horowitz. When several years ago I read in Horowitz's memoir Radical Son about his changing event- the Panthers' murder of his friend Betty Van Patter- I realized with a shock that I had known some of the people he wrote about- though I lost contact with them decades ago. As I didn't find out about the 1974-75 abduction/murder until several years ago, and am many decades removed from the Bay Area, I can't count this as one of my changing events. Interesting coincidence, though.]

  10. Ann Says:

    The Ace of Spades piece Neo linked to yesterday in her post on the Woodward thing had a really good line, used with reference to the media: the “Delta House of Obama Propaganda”.

    The analogy with a fraternity or sorority — Delta House — is perfect. And I think it’s also related to the political change experience.

    Some people can’t bear that kind of organization, but others thrive on it. Maybe political changers are primarily of the first kind?

  11. Richard Aubrey Says:

    You gotta admit, it took a lot to convince Horowitz. Be nice to know if he’s said anything about how come he believed up to that point.

  12. parker Says:

    Well written, same as everything you write. Another interesting chain of events are those of us (I am one) who came from conservative families, flirted with leftist ideas in college in the early 60s, and then had to make a living and raise a family which swiftly put us back to the conservative side.

  13. Gringo Says:

    Richard Aubrey
    You gotta admit, it took a lot to convince Horowitz. Be nice to know if he’s said anything about how come he believed up to that point.

    David Horowitz explains it fairly well in his memoir Radical Son. For a Red Diaper Baby, he has come a long way.

  14. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I enjoy your reflections on people such as yourself who have changed political philosophies. But I am left wanting to know what is it about our psychologic makeup that allows different people to see the way the world works in such opposite ways. In other words, what is it about our brains that allows some of us to see Thomas Sowell’s “unrestrained vision of mankind” (The liberal vision.) versus the “constrained vision.” (The conservative vision.)

    It seems to me there is some innate quality that directs us toward one vision or the other. The liberal, unconstrained vision that humans are perfectible if only led by the “right” leaders has failed over and over again throughout history. And yet it is seemingly accepted as gospel by well educated, smart people. What personality trait is it that allows them to ignore or rationalize these failures?

    That people can grow up as liberals is perfectly explained by the concept of familial and environmental influence, but what trait is it that allows people like yourself, Horowitz, Simon, and so many others to change your view from the unconstrained vision to the constrained?

    If we knew the answers to these questions we might be able to avoid much conflict and suffering.

  15. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I read Horowitz’ book a long time ago. I may have forgotten why it took the murder of a friend to get his attention. After all, the left had murdered so many, domestically and internationally without making much difference to Horowitz.
    Maybe I’ll see if the library has it. Sure, he’s come a long way. My question is why he stayed there for so long. It’s not like he was a parlor pink who did, or maybe didn’t, subscribe to the Daily Worker and tsked to himself. He effing knew. But it didn’t matter until his friend was killed.

  16. mizpants Says:

    There’s a striking difference between moving right from an essentially apolitical “placement” on the left — there are so many aesthetic, social and cultural reasons for wanting to stay on the left, if only nominally — and moving right from a position as a hard-left activist. That’s what makes Horowitz’s story compelling, and that’s also why I never quite trust him. He brings the mentality of the left with him, the ends justify the means attitude.
    But that’s the problem with the right. You can’t win if you’re fighting a principled fight against an unprincipled opponent.

  17. Don Carlos Says:

    Interesting piece, perhaps somewhat relevant:

  18. Roy Says:

    Gringo said: “We Gave Peace a Chance, and got genocide.”

    That right there would make a fine bumper sticker.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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