Addendum to Right to Left: An Ideological Journey

My blog post earlier today elicited a lot of reaction – mostly good. I must say one reader in particular posited some excellent questions as she found it hard to understand how I came to evolve from Right to Left. Her questions make sense. Part of the ambiguity in my last post was borne of my desire to keep my entries “around 1000 words.” This makes it less of a chore for the reader to get through and in the day of 140 character Tweets is imperative if you are trying to build a following. So, with that in mind I am going to take my valued reader’s suggestion to heart and I am going to expand upon my original blog past by trying to answer her excellent questions the best I can. I hope this helps.

ORIGINAL POST

To try and keep this straight – my reader’s comments are italicized and my responses are bold.

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This whole article troubles me somewhat and I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it’s the description of your past beliefs and political affiliations as I find myself going through the psychological reasons you seem to be offering…

…feeling that war, violence, and the lack of compassion for other human beings made you feel manly. It troubles me that our society encourages these feelings and worries me that failing to free ourselves from traditional gender roles will only result in more war and unneeded suffering. You say you woke up a bit out of fear of going to war which rings of a kind of selfishness that almost defines hypocrisy (yeah war! *manly roar* wait. –  You want me to go? No way!).

Like so many young boys (not all) I grew up watching television programs that glorified war, lived in a neighborhood where we played war and cowboys and Indians and I have a dad, who is not a lover of war in the least, but has always had a huge interest in aviation – especially military. The typical rerun movies of war in my youth were not Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, which paint war as it is, horrific – but rather propaganda films of the 1940s which showed a macho nation and its warriors killing off stereotypes. I was a kid – I bought it. My war views began turning in the 1980s – but I still would not consider myself a pacifist in every situation. I do not think we should police the world, and this nation has a dubious history of intervening for one oppressed group but ignoring others – that is disgusting. The mess in Afghanistan and Pakistan is blamable on Britain’s cut and run post-WW II strategy and our alliance with the Taliban when Afghanistan was at war with the USSR. Couple this with a corrupt Kharzei regime and you have a war that is not winnable and not worthy of our support (beyond supporting the troops – not the leaders who put them there.) The not wanting to go fight was pure cowardice – and as you said – hypocrisy – plain and simple – afraid, scared, not going to die for Kuwait etc…I would not want my sons to fight in a war either – it would be one thing if we were really threatened, but the wars of the last 20 years are political fluff. I do not really think I ever had a lack of compassion, and if I did it certainly did not make me feel manly – the manly reference was mainly in reference to hearing headlines of air strikes etc – the idea of a nation pumped up on testosterone. I agree with you – we need to free ourselves from traditional gender roles – I think it is a losing battle, but I am sure giving it my all with my kids…

I suppose what troubles me is knowing how many people think and act just this way and, whether or not they eventually come to see reason, that way of thinking is currently destroying the country in terms of human rights, animal rights, and the economy. I suppose I don’t really understand how you really came to liberal ideals. You mention a few things- not wanting to go to war, the Bush tortures, and separation of church and state and then you go on to describe other liberal beliefs but these couldn’t have been new could they? What caused you to go from supporting Republicans to being against the racist based immigration laws?

I have never supported racism in any way – about the worst thing you could say about me years ago is I laughed at Archie Bunker on “All in the Family.” The majority of my Republican ideals were from the fiscal/pro business side of the argument. I have always been pro-choice, pro-separation of church and state, encouraging of immigration, etc. The bigger change I noticed, starting around 1990 (particularly the 1992 elections) was the real emergence of the religious right – they became in my mind to much of an important player. Reagan paid a bit of lip service to them, but did not change things – George the First lost in 1992 because of a failed economy and by not embracing the fanatics – who basically stayed home on Election Day and handed it to Clinton. Anti-war is a tough one…I cannot really feel that either party is the only culpable party…Democratic Presidents started WW I, II, Korea, and the escalation in Vietnam – of course Korea and Vietnam were escalated by Republicans…neither side can claim moral superiority in any of this, and the reasons for entering all of these conflicts are convoluted at best. A lot of my war thoughts come from books and movies – the worm started turning in all likelihood with a healthy dose of Vonnegut, Heller and Camus shortly after high school. I also work as a law librarian and a lot of reading I have done over the past decade has been about major issues and the US Supreme Court. I place a lot of value on the Bill of Rights (not saying I did not before, but I am more aware of it now) – I also believe that it is a living and breathing document – I am very against the strict constructionist mentality that some of our justices have now. I never would have supported a law that was racially motivated, but in the 1980s I may have looked the other way and supported what I thought was pro-business…and to address the “gradual” issue part of it may have been the difficulty in change, difficulty in thinking I had been wrong etc. There is also a problem that I just did not like Clinton – and you could argue he was a centrist Republican, but I would just say he was a shameless opportunist – not exactly the type of guy that would motivate me to change. I am Independent – but left of center/left leaning…I am truly undecided in our upcoming gubernatorial election in MA – I have only ruled out one of the top 4 – I do not like Cahill the Dem turned Independent…this state is very liberal on social issues so the vote really does come down more to economic issues than social – we also cannot declare war on anyone. The most important element of change is that I no longer will vote with fiscal conservatives and look the other way on social, religious, imperialistic, racist, etc ways…I understand how many people that I know do not look at it that way – but I do. I have friends who have told me that they care about all of those issues, but it does not determine how they vote; others want their taxes minimized and other fully support the theories of trickle down economics and that all government interference and regulation is wrong. Everyone can pick what is most salient for them come election time – I hope this clarified it all a bit…

How could you go from thinking poor people were just lazy to “Abandoning the poor will continue the cycle that has no hope of being broken”. Every liberal I know with these same beliefs were *always* compassionate and understanding- something that almost every Republican/Conservative/Libertarian seems to lack.. how do you gain such a trait?

By watching a grandfather who was lazy – he feigned injury to avoid work, worked as little as possible and far from being physically addicted to alcohol and gambling he just would rather drink and bet than work. And he went on and on about the Kennedy’s caring and the Republicans not caring for the little man. It made me mad to see someone make no effort, and to hear from my Mom (and keep in mind, we both loved this man) that he was the same way when he was young and healthy. He was content to take his pittance from disability etc and not make any effort. Of course, he had my grandmother work until she was well into her 60s. So the change for me came from evolving to realize that he was an exception and not the rule – in fact he was worse than that – he had opportunity to work through the post-war boon years and chose to do as little as possible. Just living life and coming across a variety of people in my various careers has made me change this view – it makes sense to me how it happened anyways…

Was it someone talking to you that opened your eyes?  Was it researching or hearing personal stories?

A lot of reading, a few people that I debated this stuff with for years did have some affect as did my own feelings of realizing I am not the person the GOP is representing. Maybe I was hoping I was going to evolve into the wealthy ruling elite, but it did not happen and the more I know now I am glad. I like my life, my work, my family and my friends. I felt this way all along on social issues, it just for years was not what motivated my vote – I figured it out economically in time – and I am not even sure I am right economically speaking – but my gut instinct tells me that my more recent ways is the better path to take and has more potential to help the country, world and individual.

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Thank you all for your continued readership – I am approaching a staggering 1500 individual reads in my first 6 weeks – the feedback and comments have been great. You can easily subscribe(hell – it’s free!) to Symptom of the Universe by submitting your e-mail in the box on the right of this page. Thanks again! Mike

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10 Responses to “Addendum to Right to Left: An Ideological Journey”

  1. sapblatt Says:

    Heather – I hope this helps to clarify…
    https://sapblatt.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/addendum-to-left-to-right-an-ideological-journey/
    Take care
    Mike

  2. Caroline Says:

    Mike I am proud to know you and only
    wish we hadn’t lost touch in the decades that have passed. You are articulate and a caring Dad and husband. That, at the end of the day, means more to the future than any other thing you may say or do. Be well old friend.

  3. sapblatt Says:

    …and she means old!
    Thanks Caroline – very kind words.
    Please take care
    M

  4. Chuck Says:

    Generals gathered in their masses
    Just like witches at black masses
    Evil minds that plot destruction
    Sorcerers of death’s construction
    In the fields the bodies burning
    As the war machine keeps turning
    Death and hatred to mankind
    Poisoning their brainwashed minds
    Oh lord yeah!

    Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor

    Time will tell on their power minds
    Making war just for fun
    Treating people just like pawns in chess
    Wait ’til their judgement day comes
    Yeah!

    Now in darkness world stops turning
    Ashes where the bodies burning
    No more war pigs have the power
    Hand of God has struck the hour
    Day of judgement, God is calling
    On their knees the war pig’s crawling
    Begging mercy for their sins
    Satan laughing spreads his wings
    Oh lord yeah!

    More lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/black+sabbath/#share

  5. sapblatt Says:

    Hey Chuck –
    Nice – great song – great lyrics.
    They never said who wrote those – all four of them have song credits – most of the lyrics are by Geezer Butler, but these ones do sound like Ozzy…
    Thanks for reading and commenting.
    Mike

  6. What if Immigration Enforcement Affected YOU? « Symptom of the Universe Says:

    […] Addendum to: Left to Right: An Ideological Journey […]

  7. Heather Says:

    I’m finding it difficult to come up with a good reply to this article. On one hand I understand that you were voting for a few issues and not all issues- I’m a socialist so I don’t agree with most of your conservative views in general, but I’ve never completely understood people who could vote for someone only because they had to ignore other issues. I also find human rights to be more important than money anyway even if I were fiscally conservative. I think that it seems the biggest problem was a transition from caring about social issues to actually standing up for social issues. You didn’t agree with the racism of the Reps but as a Dem you are now actually standing up against racism. Thank you for these clarifications and I’m glad that you’re closer to liberal than you were before- and maybe that journey isn’t done 😀

  8. sapblatt Says:

    Heather – no need to come up with a reply – and the journey is never done until the last breath is exhaled. I agree with you on human rights too – in my youth I found it easier to look the other way, or to rank them further down the scale than I would now – not saying it was right – it just was and is. I know people that are as pro-choice as I am, but they would still vote for what they believed in fiscally first – they do not let social issues come into play – I do not agree with that at all, but I only can vote once and an other person’s criteria may not be my own.
    thanks again for all of the thought and input!
    Take care
    Mike

  9. Bruce McDonald Says:

    The shortsightedness of these myopic “fiscally first… do not let social issues come into play” folks really pisses me off.

    I don’t enjoy paying taxes. Have some serious financial problems due to my significant ongoing medical expenses from my accident 12 years ago. Also realize there’s a considerable amount of waste of tax payers’ money. (My hope is by electing the right candidates we can make progress on this issue).

    However, I believe paying reasonable taxes is a civic duty — even a form of patriotism. It’s our responsibility, part and parcel of a democracy, to help/lift up those less fortunate. By doing so we improve & enrich the quality of life for all in our community.

    What rankles me about those “No New Taxes” types who vote purely on fiscal issues is they often fail to see the long term effects of their position(s). Many who against even nominal tax increases on “principle.” This can have a devastating on key educational & social programs.

    My wife and I don’t have kids. Yet we vote more often than not to raise the budgets for schools & social programs that will not impact us immediately. But one day a number of those benefiting from our votes will be police, medical personnel & others directly helping us in our community… or yours.

  10. sapblatt Says:

    Bruce – thank you for reading and contributing to the discussion – excellent points about the good of taxes.
    Take care
    Mike

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