Monday, January 11, 2010

Identity Crisis

I was flattered and kind of excited the other day. I opened a Twitter account because a conservative blogger I admire had tweeted one of my posts. Imagine my surprise when he gave his Twitter followers a tweet describing me as "one of us".

I've thought about that a lot. Mostly along the lines of "Am I now? Well, how did that happen?"

See, I've long been registered as an independent. Lately, I've been tending to describe myself as a libertarian-conservative. I'm by no means a Republican... and I've only been able to bear the "conservative" label when it's connected to the "libertarian" disclaimer. But the most confusing part of this - to me, at least?

I used to be a liberal. Not a Democrat - never that - but a true, blue liberal. I can vividly remember a conversation I had years ago. I was in my late teens, and the man I was speaking to was (in my opinion, at the time) ancient... like, 35 or 40. And to this day, I can picture the growing horror on his face as I earnestly argued that any thinking, caring person must agree that socialism is the solution to the world's problems. "Of course, it's not the perfect system... but it's the closest mankind has come yet!"

At the time, my decoration of choice was peace signs and yin/yang symbols - and the sixties were long over by that point. I marched with GreenPeace. At one point, I had convinced myself I wanted to join the Peace Corps. When my first child was born, we planned to use cloth diapers that we would tie-dye so that we could protect the environment while "flying our hippy flag", so to speak. (It only took a quick lesson in how much newborns poop to kill that little idea forever.)

I remember when the first Gulf War began... I was working at one of those places where you drive right through the building to get your smokes and drinks. A customer came through and (I swear this is true) said, "Give me a pack of Marlboros and case of Bud! My country's at war!" And he said this with a rebel yell whoop that left me with one thought: "Neanderthal." My response to the war? I went out and found a peace sign button done in stars and stripes. With a close loved one who is a Vietnam veteran (and who put up with my hippy foolishness anyway), I was mindful of not wanting to disparage our brave troops. My explanation for the button was, "I support our troops, but not the policies that have put them in harm's way."

I voted for Clinton. Twice.

I went into the 2000 elections leaning toward Al Gore. (Yes... I know.)

But then I voted for George W. Bush instead. Why? Because although I can tolerate a lot, I can not tolerate rudeness. And I found Al Gore's behavior during the debates to be childish, embarrassing and rude beyond measure. As he huffed and sighed and shuffled his papers (as though there was a danger he'd not get a chance to speak), I thought, "Wow... We can't send this idiot out to deal with other world leaders. He's more melodramatic than a ten-year-old girl!"

Then 9/11. I remember thinking (over and over, for the next few months) "Oh, thank god-fate-buddha-the Lucky Charms leprechaun-ANYONE who's listening that that man did not get elected!" I felt safer with George Bush in the White House. And frankly, I didn't give a rat's ass if the rest of the world thought our President was a cowboy, as we began to hear all too often. I voted for him again in 2004, thinking I'd rather have a cowboy than a waffling wimp.

I can see now the change was in the works...

In 2008, I was telling people that Barack Obama is a socialist long before the walking photo op candidate happened across Joe the Plumber tossing a football. I even told friends that while Hillary is a socialist as well, I thought she would be tougher on national security than Obama.

I voted, finally, for Sarah Palin. Why? For the same reason 45% of America would swap Congress for random names from the phone book. As the least connected to Washington, she seemed the least corrupt. And I like her.

But I'm rambling, and I didn't mean to...

I'm trying to figure out what has changed. I still don't know that I'm conservative. I sure wouldn't pass any litmus test for it. I don't want politicians getting their faith all over my constitution. I am fine with gay marriage. I think we should decriminalize drugs and prostitution. I'm opposed to the death penalty in most cases. I think America should have a safety net for our poor and uninsured. (Anyone still reading?) On the other hand, I think global warming is a load of horse puckey. I think abortion is infanticide. I'm not too happy with borders that work like my pasta sieve. And I think there are religious zealots all over the world (including America) who would like to change my way of living, and I'd like to be protected from them.

So I don't see that I fit either classification. And I hope, if you have read this far, you can overlook that. I may sway left to right depending on the issue. I may say something you agree with today only to piss you off tomorrow. If you came here looking for a conservative blog - or a liberal one - you may be disappointed. But if you just came here for another opinion? I have plenty of those!

1 comment:

dkf said...

Insightful thoughts. . .I have traveled a similar journey.

No two of use should every agree on every single detail -- we would never evolve. However, a growing consensus of voters (hopefully not to late) are coming to the realization that if we don't protect ourselves from foreign threats and stay vigilant -- all the great social programs in the world won't matter. Additionally, we must be fiscally strong or we will collaspe from within.

Looking forward to following your posts.