It’s so rare to see a piece describing a political change from right to left that this one in Politico entitled “Why Am I Moving Left?” caught my eye.
It’s written by Thomas E. Ricks, a 50-something journalist who has spent the last twenty-five years specializing in writing about military matters, and he seems remarkably unreflective for a writer. He’s “puzzled” by not just his drift but by his “late-middle-age politicization,” since prior to this he had been a “detached centrist” who “didn’t participate in elections, because I didn’t want to vote for, or against, the people I covered.”
I can’t see how a person can follow politics and not have an opinion on them, so my guess is that until recently Ricks closely followed events in his field of expertise (the military) but not events in general, because he describes not a conscious effort to refrain from voting despite strong feelings, but a lack of strong opinions about politics at all.
So perhaps he’s just begun to pay attention recently, because he’s decided he doesn’t need to remain aloof anymore. One of the things he doesn’t like is what happened in the Iraq War, and he also thought that our conduct of the war in Afghanistan was “inept.” How that would translate into support for the left (or particularly Obama, who destroyed whatever good we did) I haven’t a clue, since a person would have no reason to believe the left would be better at conducting a war Ricks actually supported, such as Afghanistan. Nor does he explain what was so inept about Afghanistan, under the extremely difficult circumstances that country presented, circumstances that were known and predicted to be exceedingly challenging.
I’m not going to bother to fisk Ricks’ entire article. But if you go down the list of things Ricks says were what turned him to the left, you’ll find that most of them are emotional reactions where calling on the left to remedy things doesn’t seem to demonstrate much logic at all. Ricks doesn’t like the NSA spying, income inequality, bailouts, gun massacres. So: Democrats? Did they oppose the NSA data collection or the bailouts to a greater degree than Republicans did, and do they have solutions for gun massacres or income inequality that aren’t worse than the diseases? Ricks doesn’t even try to argue why he thinks they do.
I have no idea how typical Ricks is of any recent phenomenon. I’ve not seen any surveys on how political change has been going during the Obama administration, but I find it very hard to believe he’s not in a tiny minority, and that any change that has occurred has been in the other direction, particularly among millennials.
[ADDENDUM: Just now I looked up Ricks’ Wiki entry, and after reading it I am of the opinion he’s very much a liberal, and has been for a long time.]