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April 02, 2005

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Tony Alva

I'd have to say that age provides individual clarity more than anything, and this can make one’s thoughts more liberal, or more conservative depending. As an example: A women’s right to choose. I have always supported this right, but as I became a father to a daughter, would I want her to have the ability to go get an abortion at the age of 15-16 without mine, or her mother's knowledge? The answer for me is a resounding no. She couldn't go get an appendectomy without my consent and I see no distinction between the two. At the same time, religious institutions which I once thought had the worlds best interests in mind, have revealed themselves to be far less genuine in their motives and thus, have hardened my views of church/state separation, and in some cases won my outright contempt.

When you’re young, emotion drives much of your thought process and your political belief, youthful ignorance coming in a close second to that (have you ever met a teenager or twenty something that DIDN’T know everything?). I think it’s each individual’s experiences that affect which way the needle goes on the liberal/conservative continuum.

chervokas

Tony, I guess it's a little of everything--experiences, emotions, the whole package of being--that goes into any kind of change.

For my part, tho' I appreciate the issue of a pregnant teen and her parents having a difference of opinion over an abortion, which will have an effect on the girl's entire life, I have always agreed w/ your position that you can't allow surgery on a minor without a guardian's consent. That's just not the solution.

But unlike you, I became cynical about the religous stuff at a very young age.

Bill Martin

I was raised on a farm in the South. My grandfather was county sheriff for 26 years and our whole family was very tightly aligned with the Democratic Party, however we were by no measure liberal. In those days if you referred to someone as a Republican, you did so out of the corner of your mouth. We just couldn’t believe anyone with a brain and the ability to use it would choose to be Republican.

Back then, standing out as different was not a good thing for young man. All the cool people were democrats and I wanted to hang with the cool folks. If you go to that part of Virginia today it is as red as a fire engine. When did it happen…I’m not sure. I’ve only recently moved back. I do know what changed me.

It was fighting in an unpopular war and coming home to an ungrateful nation. It was living through the scandals of Nixon and the malaise of Jimmy Carter and voting for Reagan because he wasn’t Carter. After his victory, patriotic songs were climbing the charts and flags were being held high. It was like finally getting a hot shower and rinsing away the filth. National pride seemed to be flowing from all corners of the country and I found a home in the Republican Party.

If we want to see where the financial divide started to take hold we need to go back before Republican control. We need to go back to Johnson and the housing assistance act that was part of “The Great Society” movement. Borne out of the best intentions, this is part of the welfare juggernaut that is destroying our most vulnerable citizens.

seamus

Jason, you identify the primary flaw with Tom Evslin's piece, how he defines liberal and conservative as "wants to redistribute wealth" (liberal) vs. "doesn't" (conservative), which is a horribly warped and anachronistic view of both sides.

But you also identify the other problem, which the need for us to bi-polarize all positions. In a time when the "conservatives" voted for leaders who are rapidly expanding the federal government both in size ($) and powers, what does it mean to be conservative or liberal anymore?

Tony Alva

Bill’s comments describe what I believe has been the overlooked factor during this past election. Fred Wilson recently blogged about his distain for nationalism and I'm not on that bandwagon at all. Yes, nationalism/patriotism can be the ruin of a society if taken to an extreme, but it seems to me that dismissing it altogether is denying a very real and genuine emotion that every person possesses to some degree. I’m sure Fred has a favorite football team that he’s passionate about, right? I think it’s quite a natural emotion, yet it seems to be a bad word amongst liberals to the point that any display of American patriotism is ridiculed. I recall several conversations with my liberal friends during Reagan’s funeral week in which I tried in vain to explain why I thought they were wrong when they would go on denouncing and minimizing his impact on our nations psyche. I would say, “Guys, I was an impressionable teenager when Reagan came to office in the midst of my political awakening. How could you have missed this changing vibe?” There were many events that were shaping my thoughts back then, the biggest being having to register for the draft, and the Iranian hostage crisis. I also vividly recall NOT being able to find an after school job to save my life.

Then, Reagan was elected, the hostages came home, and as luck would have it, their first overnight stay back on home soil was at the Thayer Hotel at West Point, NY where my family was living at the time. There were people lining the entire route from the airport all the way to the front gate of West Point. The momentum changed in this country from that point on. It appeared again, if ever so briefly, following 9/11. No matter how long this feeling sustained, I will always remember that over WMD, who knew what, what Bush did/what Bush didn’t do, etc… Whatever the debatable reality of the specifics, Reagan had scared the Iranians into freeing our people from captivity within days of taking office and America began to stop apologizing for all the world’s ills. That is how I remember it as a seventeen-year-old boy. As Bill stated, it was like taking a shower.

Of course as I got older and more educated, I became aware of the complexity of many domestic and world events, but the thing that I have kept with me from those times is that the potential for great things to happen increases when people feel good about themselves and I believe it applies to entire nations as well. There have certainly been times since I was seventeen that could easily have made me a hardened cynic, but I fight it and do my best to stay balanced. Our nation owns it’s share of culpability in many of the ills that plague our planet, but by a hundred-fold margin, we are responsible for some of the greatest accomplishments and goodness as well. I can certainly understand why most journalists become liberal and cynical having to explore the uglier side of politics (the pretty side is not newsworthy). It’s like many of my cop friends will tell you, it’s hard to come home from work with smile on your face when all you do all day is deal with criminals and the depraved side of life. This is why pulling back to 10,000 feet is required to combat that cynicism because it exposing some of this goodness that can be missed when living at the micro level.

On issues that define the two parties… On paper I would get the dem/liberal sticker stuck to me (with the only real exception being my position on our ME policy making me a halkish dem), but, I am completely turned off by the apologetic, and cynical nature of the left and have a hard time standing with them because of it. I think MANY people feel the same way. If Democrats could just stop denying these feelings, worst case, stop mocking the patriotic, or dismissing them, you’d see a huge defection come election time. The longer they wait to do it, the longer it will be before they get one of their own in the Whitehouse.

Bill Martin

Holy Cow!!! A friend of mine directed me to a website this weekend: sorryeverybody.com. There are about 8,000 or so pictures of people saying sorry to the rest of the world for Bush winning the last election.

This is what people of my ilk refer to as un-American. I had many emotions when Clinton won reelection, but feeling like I had to apologize to somebody because the majority of Americans voted for him never came to mind. I could be wrong, but they are not apologizing to the world, as Tony states, they are mocking people like me. Patriotism/pride are very strong emotions and very difficult to fake. These are emotions that motivate people into action, like voting. Who would have ever thought Republicans could beat Democrats at the GOTV game.

I don’t think the bash America movement lead by the likes of Michael Moore is helpful to the liberal cause. I’m starting to believe this is what the so called Progressive movement is all about. Another plank in the Progressive platform is to label everyone who voted conservative, stupid. From my vantage point, most progressives appear to be either extremely wealthy, Hollywood and Soros types or they barely have a pot to piss in. Since when did being a Republican combined with success in business, money in the bank, geographical location or religious affiliation automatically put you in the stupid category? I might be motivated by being called misinformed, but call me stupid and I go immediately into “screw you” mode. The once big tent party is looking extremely narrow to me.

If liberals want to have a majority stake in running this country they had better start coming up with solutions that make America a better and stronger country for all it’s citizens. Simply launching sophomoric attacks against conservatives isn’t working. As we say in the South, “That dog won’t hunt.”

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