Coming out as a conservative …

I tried to suppress my conservative tendencies at first. I convinced myself that they would eventually pass, like adolescent hot flashes. … I behaved like a 40-year-old married father who suddenly realizes that he’s gay, and doesn’t know what to do.
There were early signs of my tendency, and in retrospect they were clearly recognizable. [A] friend of mine from school, even claims that she has always known about it. When we talked about our younger days at a class reunion three years ago and I mentioned switching sides politically, she looked at me with pity in her eyes and said: “[Y]ou were never truly liberal. It was always just a pose for you.” I felt as if I’d been caught in the act, and yet she didn’t mean it in a bad way.
The hardest part about being a late conservative is coming out. It’s a moment you postpone for as long as possible. You worry about the way colleagues will react, and you don’t want to humiliate your parents. My mother will be 73 this year, an age at which she is increasingly unlikely to ever shed her prejudices against conservatives. She tries to be polite in conversation and not let anyone see how she really feels, but sometimes her prejudices emerge with a clarity that even I find shocking.

Jan Fleischhauer

9 thoughts on “Coming out as a conservative …”

  1. Yeah,so did I. During the “transition”, I called myself a Social Liberal/Fiscal Conservative. Huh! Even as I was saying it, I knew it was unravelling – since Liberals are all about money, I knew I was being an oxyMoron.

    Susan Lee

  2. When I was a college senior, in 1960, I voted for Nixon. My family, all Roosevelt Democrats were outraged, partly because there was a distant relationship to John F (at the great grandfather level). About 25 years later, my mother began to tell me that she had been a Republican all along. Being a dutiful son, I said nothing but it does go both ways, I suspect. It might even be harder for the parent.

  3. The problem is simply one of egocentric hubris. Leftist believe that their views on various problems are so blindingly obviously correct that everyone actually believes the world works the way leftist think it does. It’s just that some people, non-leftist, are evil and refuse to implement the leftist solutions that the non-leftist know will work. For example, leftist believe that everybody actually understands how great and wonderful socialized medicine would be but non-leftist choose to let people die just because the non-leftist simply don’t care.

    Leftist believe that non-leftist understand what the most humane solutions are but refuse to implement those solutions because the non-leftist refuse to pay the minimal cost to themselves necessary. Obviously, such people are just evil and deserve nothing but contempt.

    The anger, hatred and contempt that the leftist direct at all who disagree with them ultimately stems from their own exaggerated sense of their own superiority.

  4. I’d come out as a conservative, but I’m not sure I could handle the overwhelming rushes of certitude :)

  5. Yeah, Seanf, smugness is never characteristic of the left.

    The problem with the left is that it moves so quickly to ad hominem, someone who is going to take that guff needs to be pretty sure the position is important enough to be worth it.

    When I was young I was pretty conservative – I can remember reading Camus and writing to my ex-boyfriend how resilient, how basically independent he was making me feel and how close it was to the political vision of that conservative boyfriend (I think he gave my parents a subscription to National Review). But surrounded in academic circles for the next years, watching Nixon being essentially tried on television, wanting to fit in, I moved into a position of parroting NPR – but I always felt uncomfortable. The Clarence Thomas hypocrisy was irritating – I’d known people who were like him – at least as he was described by those for him. I’d also known people like the ones accusing him and their dishonesty was obvious. Then, well, Bill Clinton lied. And any lingering sympathy I had for the feminist left – and I’d never had much – was gone.

    As horrible as it would seem in the human catastrophe, I’ve got to say I found 9/11 liberating – what I had slowly been coming to see now made sense. The left’s response (and we see now how confused and dishonest it was, always looking for advantage and never for truth) turned me into a pretty far right person. But then, it’s hard to grow up in a Nebraska town of 500, to start delivering papers when you’re in fifth grade, to know a lot of people who have gotten out of Eastern Europe in the iron curtain days, to teach American literature and approach it without some stupid neo-colonuial view and not, well, feel that there is someothing to preserve here.

  6. I’ll get the guy a General John Stark t-shirt: Live Free or Die. Death is not the worst of evils.” Then you can really watch them fall out of their chairs.

  7. I’m not sure I could handle the overwhelming rushes of certitude

    What are some political questions on which you experience doubt? What are some political questions on which you sometimes wonder if Republicans are right?

  8. “..I’d come out as a conservative, but I’m not sure I could handle the overwhelming rushes of certitude…”

    Yes…conservatives have certitute…but more often as a result of thought and application of common sense to issues…..liberals have certitute because the guy barking about it at the coffee shop had certitude….

  9. Well, I have much less certitude about most things as I get older, chiefly because my experience has been that like the cliche says, the truth is rarely pure and never simple. Yes, the world is complex, but that’s no reason to dumb it down.

    As a former engineer I believe in the incredible explanatory power of science and rationality. But my experience in other areas has taught me the limits of reason, especially when dealing with human beings, with all of our imperfections.

    I agree with Republicans more than Democrats, when it comes to the power of government to effect social changes, even if everyone agrees the changes are desirable. My read of history is that culture is equally, or more, important. In addition, government regulation can strangle an economy (although, as we’ve seen, so can its absence). My major disagreements with Republicans are on foreign policy, social and religious grounds.

    I don’t post often on this site anymore chiefly because I found, after a while, that I wasn’t really learning anything new by doing so. I now read “New Right” sites like Daniel Larison. An interesting article explaining why arguing with the political “other” does neither of you any good is here:

    If the political views are personality and morality based, as the research increasingly says they are, then rational argument is only useful before views have hardened. I don’t actually read left sites anymore because reading people I agree with is even less productive. Except, maybe, for Greenwald.

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