Daily Reads

Thursday, February 09, 2017

My trip from the left

My trip to the dark side began because of Johnny Carson.

I grew up the child of academics, both of whose families had always voted for the guy with the (D) after his name. I listened to my father cheer every time the DJA dropped, and watched the nightly news with Walter Cronkite telling us the evils of the Vietnam War, as well as hearing about the evils of Nixon from my parents and how we had to love Mother Earth. But as a teenager on Fridays and during the summer I'd watch the Tonight Show and was exposed to people who actually thought, people like Bill Buckley and Charlton Heston. Even as a barely teenager, I realized that although I disagreed with these men, they were people I could have had a conversation about ideas with, and at the end could have agreed to disagree and remain friendly.

We moved to Ireland in '76 where I got to see first hand the difference between the IRA (lefties) and the Unionists (non-lefties). I got to listen to our idiot student union at Trinity. I discovered what raised hackles felt like the one time I had to listen to Bernadette Devlin ranting on the Dining Hall steps. Most of us will have a visceral reaction to meeting evil face to face - listen to your gut (or in this instance the hairs on the back of your neck). I voted in my first presidential election, and while I couldn't bring myself to vote for Reagan, I couldn't bring myself to vote for Carter either.

At university I studied history, mostly medieval (so I have an ... interesting ... view on Islam). I moved back to the States, continued with another degree (music), and read more history. During a beginning-of-semester social at SUNY Albany for the library science students we discussed Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and our reaction to it (this was September of '90) and I pointed out that we did have treaties with Kuwait, and anyway, like Hitler and Czechoslovakia, if we let Saddamm keep Kuwait without any reaction, he'd just keep rolling through the Middle East. I just stood there with my jaw dropped through the floor when a fellow student (God help us, in the school librarian program) informed everyone that we should never have been involved in WWII either.

I actually threw a pillow at the TV when I heard on the news that we weren't going on to Bagdad; I <i>knew</i> that we'd be back later to fix the mess at a cost of a lot more money and lives than if we'd just done it right the first time.

And by then I'd fully switched, from the side that wanted me to be a doormat and think in lockstep to the side that let me make up my own mind, trusted me to be an adult, and could handle disagreements.

Now if I could just convince my JFK democrat parents that JFK would be too conservative for most of the GOP today. Sadly, even though Daddy stopped cheering drops in the DJA (about the time he realized that's what his retirement was based on) otherwise I think they've both turned into Bernie Sanders socialists.