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.