Note: In June, 2015, I started a blog called HowToCureYourLiberalism on which I discussed my transition from the Left to Libertarianism. I will be re-posting my entries here on BPS as I originally posted them on my blog, the only edits being linguistic. I will also skip over posts that focused on the current events of the time of publication, as they have now become anachronistic. Enjoy, and please check out my more recent posts on my personal site.
If there’s one person in this world I can really relate to at the moment, it’s Bruce Jenner. While I’m not planning on getting breast implants or cutting my penis off, there is no hiding that I am transitioning.
I’ve been known by most of the people I’ve crossed paths with in life as a bleeding-heart liberal, and for good reason. I was all in on Obama, always stuck my neck out for “minorities”, despised the Second Amendment, held violent, hateful opinions about corporations, and felt the needs of “society” outweighed those of individual men.
My, how things change.
When I voted for big government in 2008 and 2012, I felt I was choosing the lesser of two evils. And for this, I am sorry. I knowingly chose evil. There is no theory of relativity when it comes to right and wrong. You have to do what’s right, not what makes you feel less bad. From now on, this will remain a fundamental facet of my personal value system. I will never support evil again.
So, how did my transition begin? There were a few key moments. In November 2013, Obama apologized to Americans who were losing their healthcare plans after the enactment of Obamacare, a fate he had reassured the country would not come to fruition, oh, a handful of times. My politics were really shaken up by this, and I learned, to paraphrase Milton Friedman, that politicians have the ability to rise above their campaign promises.
Around the same time, Barilla pasta was involved in a scandal after its chairman Guido Barilla said he wouldn’t feature a gay couple in his advertisements. He also made it clear that he has no problem with homosexuals, and supports gay marriage. Countless online liberal magazines blatantly misquoted him, and special interest groups were ready to burn him at the stake. I couldn’t believe it. The guy progressively proclaimed support for gay rights, and was admonished by those very people and their devotees.
My Liberalism was also hindered by more than a few conversations with fellow Democrats who asked me to go get McDonald’s or told me about things they purchased at Walmart. I remember thinking we’re supposed to be against those evil corporations, right? Didn’t we just finish talking about how immoral their advertising is, about how unethically they treat their employees? Whatever movement I had felt I was a part of was not being practiced by the people trying to propel it.
But I still had to rationalize my overall disenchantment with the left. I’ve always prided myself on being a thoughtful and considerate person, so I needed something more substantial than a lie from the White House, some misinterpreted comments, and a few friends who failed to walk-the-talk to justify abandoning Liberal ideology.
Talk radio turned out to be the medium that would help me shed my worn-out leftist skin.
When I moved to Thailand to start teaching English in 2011, the TV in my apartment only had a few channels in English (namely BBC, a soccer channel, and a cartoon station that sometimes played Looney Tunes). When Looney Tunes wasn’t on, my laptop served as a much better mode of entertainment, and YouTube has always been my favorite place online. I often watched Louis C.K. clips, and eventually happened upon his throttling of Donald Rusfeld on The Opie and Anthony Show. Not only did this curry more favor from me for Mr. C.K., but it also made an Anthony Cumia fan out of me. O&A somehow led me to Loveline with Adam Carolla, and an entire world of well-reasoned, free-thinking, intelligent, and funny new voices turned my world upside down (or, perhaps, right-side up). It actually turns out that Andrew Breitbart and I share a similar experience in this regard.
This brings me to my first suggestion when it comes to purifying your brain of Liberalism:
Start Listening to Smart People
Here’s a list of names: Dennis Prager, Adam Carolla, Anthony Cumia, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, Stefan Molyneux, and Daniel.
Aside from the last one (who is a personal friend), I highly recommend lectures, radio broadcasts, debates, and literature produced by these fine thinkers. I credit these folks, among others, for waking me up, and enlightening me to a world of true righteousness, as opposed to the world of good intentions that had me ceaselessly striking out.
They are far more well-read, experienced, and principled than I, so I highly recommend taking their advice before even listening to mine. I certainly don’t agree with every single word each of them says, but I have great respect for their honesty and fearlessness, as well as the worldview they illustrate thanks to those qualities.
While studying, you may feel something before you understand their overall points and assertions. Because of this, make sure you follow my second suggestion:
Stop Getting Offended
I was sensitive as a young man. I think it has to do with being raised Jewish. I don’t consider myself religiously Jewish now, but there’s no denying I had a bris, went to Hebrew school, and was bar mitzvahed. Being raised Jewish in and of itself did not lead me towards over-sensitivity, but perhaps seeing myself as a minority did.
Judaism is weird. It’s a religion, but many see it as an ethnicity. Hitler didn’t necessarily want to wipe out the Jewish religion, but, conversely, the Jewish people. When it comes to identity, I knew I wasn’t an authentic practicing Jew, but my heritage was something I just couldn’t shake. I was a Jew for life.
Out of my closest friends, only a handful shared my religious upbringing and supposed ethnicity. The majority of my friends were Roman-Catholics, with Irish, German, and Italian roots, the rest being a mixed bag of Mid-East and South Asians. This made me feel like a bit of an outcast, and calling me a Jew was the easiest way to insult me (Louis C.K. once joked that Jew is the only word that is the proper term for a group of people as well as a slur, depending on how much “stank” you put on it). Though I was fully aware that every person in my circle of friends was subject to nasty comments, the verbal barbs thrown at me honestly hurt. I didn’t know how to handle them.
Looking back, one of my greatest regrets is that no one told me that words don’t hurt. I was under the impression that being offended was on par with being in pain, and I really wish it hadn’t been so. Broken legs take months and rehab to heal; feelings can change in an instant. And that’s what we should be telling our kids.
Listening to talk radio and stand-up comedy helped me overcome my sensitivities, and I eventually learned the importance of protecting speech (as well as how close a friend must feel to you to be comfortable hurling racial epithets your way). While it’s incredibly easy to protect popular speech (“treat homosexuals with respect”), it takes courage to defend the words the masses disagree with (“I don’t bake cakes for gay weddings”). I hope to live the rest of my life as a warrior for free speech, and to continue advancing past the phenomenon of being offended.
Now that we’re not getting offended anymore…
Realize that Cultures and Religions are Not Equal
American culture is more civilized than Nepali culture. Christianity is more peaceful than Islam. Germans are of greater intellect than Pakistanis. There is nothing racist or bigoted or xenophobic about any of those statements. This is because cultures and religions transcend the superficial traits we inherit (i.e.-pale skin or a cleft lip). It’s wrong to judge based on genetics because we don’t choose the way we will appear to others, and we don’t represent our physical features in our daily lives unless we choose to. You can be American or Islamic whether you’re black, white, brown, pink, or blue. The way of life in Panama is observable and fair game for criticism. The same goes for Scientology, Democratic-Monarchies, and Estonian culture. Condemnation, as well as praise, are absolutely acceptable when it comes to behavior, policies, and ways of life.
But when it comes to race… well, race doesn’t exist. It was made up by racists and our isolated ancestors! I don’t blame our predecessors for recognizing race because their common sense may have followed this train of thought:
- My skin is fair, his skin is dark
- My eyes are narrow, his eyes are round
- I am short, he is tall
- I eat rice, he eats bread
- I wear a Kimono, he hardly wears anything
- We must be different beings
I’m sure people run through that mental hallway all the time. But thinking something doesn’t make it real. The Tooth Fairy is not real no matter how many children believe she is. Brown skin is nothing more than the proteins in our body responding to our genetic code. That’s it.
We all have dumb thoughts. The key is to recognize them, understand why they are dumb, then avoid thinking them again!
Unlike physical features, beliefs and practices are not inherent. They are chosen, and exercised via our individual volition or cultural upbringing.
I understand that many are born with the misfortune of emerging into a world without objective reasoning or decent morals. It’s a real shame. But by voicing our displeasure with barbaric and savage ways of life, we have a better chance of igniting a renaissance that provides liberty for future generations in less civilized parts of the world. Hurting people’s feelings sure isn’t nice, but allowing brutality to reign supreme is contemptible.
Are you a former leftist on the right-wing spectrum too? What ignited your awakening?
Let me know in the comments below!