Wednesday, December 26, 2012
It's always interesting and a lot of fun to look back and see how things have changed, both from the perspective of things in general and that of how we ourselves have changed as individuals. As blogoversary number eight approaches, and in the context of the upcoming New Year (good to do this now as I will be in Louisiana for New Year's), I figure it's a nice time to put some of these thoughts into a post.
Back in 2005, I lived in a completely different world. We had just re-elected a liberal Republican who had convinced most of us that he was conservative enough to keep the libs at bay. After a very impressive speech at his second inaugural, there were those who would put down his oratory skills. Now "W" may not have been Ronald Reagan or Maggie Thatcher, but his "America at its Best" speech was perfect for the day. Perfect. In the end, he was nowhere near what anyone on the right would have called a "good" president, but you cannot fault Bush for his ability to know what to say and when to say it. It's what got him elected, and it's what got him re-elected. It's also what Republican nominees to follow him were lacking. MICKEY MOUSE could have beaten Oblahma is BOTH elections. I stormed into the blogosphere defending, of all things, Bush's speaking ability.
Back in those days, I would have been considered a "rank-and-file Republican". Sage and I would have frequent arguments reminiscent of those you would hear in the local tavern back in colonial times. We would agree on some things and disagree on others, but every argument ended with a smile, a handshake, and a strong feeling of looking forward to the next argument, discussion, or whatever was to come. There are very few commentors at the RWRepublic that I know off-blog, and Sage is the longest-standing, being the only commentor that I knew before getting involved in blogging. At the time, we were teachers, both in the same school at first, then in the same district when I was reassigned. Today, we have both escaped the teachers' unions and are living in the real world.
Much has changed since then. Bush's "Patriot Act" has been exposed as the follishness that it is. I supported it at the time, but Sage's warnings have come to fruition, as usual. A great many things come as a result of knowing that man, not the least of which is a clearer view of what really is. As such, I have moved even further to the right, and have met Sage in the middle on many things. Interesting also to see how my influence has changed him as well, but I won't be getting into that.
What is the true nature of the change in me as I have progressed from conservative Republican to federalist Libertarian? I ask myself this question quite often, but the answer has been elusive. I doubt that it is simply the influence of a good friend who is truly enlightened. More likely it is the curiosity brought about several years before that friend even appeared before me, a curiosity about the beliefs of our Founding Fathers that was sparked by none other than Rush Limbaugh.
You see, I always knew there was something about me that was different from most of the other teachers. It was easy to see in the way I carried myself and the standards that I sought to achieve both for myself and for my students. It was sometimes a source of tension with other educators, but I never truly understood what it was until one day I was covering a class as a substitute teacher at a nearby high school. One of the teachers handed me a packet of photocopies. It was the chapter on education from Rush Limbaugh's book, See, I Told You So. Reading that chapter, it seemed as though Rush had actually visited the school I had taught in when I first started teaching. From there, I began listening to his show, and found a full copy of the book to read cover to cover. I later read his earlier book, The Way Things Ought to Be, and again found myself in agreement. What caught me and sent me on this righward journey was a brief phrase in one of those books that started with something like "Where in the Constitution or the Federalist Papers does it say ...". Of course. The Constitution; the Federalist Papers. I read the Constitution in its entirety (easy stuff). Then I began to work through some of the Federalist Papers (much more to that). Many references to the Declaration of Independence there brought my attention to that work. Of course, no study of the Federalist Papers is complete without the same diligence given the Anti-Federalist Papers, so I read many of those writings as well.
In 2000, I changed jobs ... again. This time working in a school that wasn't paying much and was an hour's drive from home. The band director there, one of the nastiest bitch commies I came across in my career, said something about a particular social studies teacher (I can't remember whether it was positive of negative), but I wound up in the man's classroom. My eyes rolled when I saw the copy of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance on his desk. I was sure that this guy was going to turn out to be one of the most nutty whack-job liberal loons I had yet encountered. He even looked like a left-wing loony, with no hair on the top of his head and a gray and white ponytail that matched as seriously scruffy a beard and ugly teeth. The only thing missing from my stereotype of a hippie was his weight. Sage kept himself in tip-top shape, unlike the Jersey hippies I had come into contact with as a kid in the seventies. Every word he said to me was taken with a grain of salt for a long time. Over time, however, I discovered that there was much more to this man, as you will find in this post. There were, to my delight, other conservatives around the building. M, a math teacher with a great head on his shoulders, and the man I have referred to on blog as "Captain D", were both situated in the building, and Mrs. S (whose first name now escapes me) was there too. We had ourselves a nice group of conservatives that could easily stand up to any of the libs running around the building. Like me, they had embraced conservatism and chosen to enjoy it.
But still, "The Old Sage", as he was called by Captain D, had a very special and unique perspective on things, and once I understood that even though "the environment" was a special issue for him, his copy of Gore's screed was definitely not what he would call any sort of solution. You see, his more libertarian perspective on things required that he know the opposition's perspective as well as his own. I was very impressed by this, as you can imagine, even though I had usually made an effort to do so. You just didn't see much of that, especially in a public school. Even when there was disagreement between us, it was always fully respected and well thought out. There was frequently a situation where one of us (usually myself since most if not all of these discussions occurred in Sage's classroom) would have to leave the room because the discussion was getting hot. Our friendship was far too valuable to be involved in needless bickering. We would simply come back to it later when we were both ready for it. We got to be VERY good at this. We had to. It was the only way we would be able to sustain our friendship. Sage's respect of my positions on things was invaluable. Where he disagreed, he sought to persuade, building on the opinions I already held. Given this story, it shouldn't be hard to see why Sage and I place such value upon our friendship.
It's also been a lot of fun to see Sage's changes in this time. I won't get into them, but I do enjoy knowing that Sage is as good a listener as he is a presenter. Sage does take all perspectives into account. It's neat to see the ways I have influenced such a wise and intelligent man, and it breeds more pride in our friendship.
This all begs the question as to why I am spending so much time and effort on Sage when this post is supposed to be about how and why I have changed over the last eight years. The answer is simple, though. If I were to pick the one person that has always been there to bounce a thought off of, or the one person I could talk through an opinion with and be guaranteed objectivity, that person would have to be Sage. For Sage, it isn't about presenting his opinion and expecting you to agree with him (that's what liberals do); it's about making sure you understand his position and coming to your own conclusion with that in mind. Any of the aforementioned frustration would be from our own failures to clearly articulate what we were talking about. Sage allows for liberalism and those who espouse it to have their voice. They get their chance to persuade. They fail, but they do get their opportunity. Sage is the epitome of fairness and reason.
I have always been conservative, but finding Rush gave what I was a name. He inspired me to learn about and embrace conservatism - to stand firm and to build upon it. In doing so, I discovered that I belong to Rush's right. Nothing against Rush. Without him, I'd probably still be wandering about in the halls of some school wondering why I was dealing with all that bullshit. It is Rush that pointed me in the direction of the Founding Fathers and their beliefs. It's Rush that showed me not only that I was conservative, but that it was ok to be so. Rush made it fun to be conservative, and to this day, it is. Despite coming to the hard realization that conservatives don't have a home in a major party; despite knowing that many conservatives still blindly follow liberals who pretend to be conservative; despite having to look at liberalism all around me every day (albeit less of it than before), it's still FUN to be conservative.
The fun of being conservative (along with reading the amazing work of Emperor Misha and Omar and Mohammed) is what got me started in blogging eight years ago. I blog less now than I did then, but it's not because of any disenchantment with conservatives or conservatism ... or with blogging. It's just because there are things going on around me that are much more important at this juncture of my life. My blog continues, and will for the foreseeable future. Will I move further to the right? I don't know. I do know that many conservatives are doing just that. Even some of the nimrods in Washington, DC are doing so. They see that many things that have been done in the name of conservatism have been nothing of the sort, and are now opposing foolishness like the PATRIOT Act and its ilk. After twenty-eight years of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama, someone is bound to come along and show America what America SUPPOSED to be. Far too many have forgotten, and have fallen into the trap of asking the government for everything. That's not freedom; that's slavery. I would be lying to you if I told you I have never utilized a government program, but every moment on one has been spent trying to shed it. Even those who make up these things say they intend for that to be the case, but as Rush said, there are too many people using the (illegal) safety net as a hammock.
All this brings me to the next change in my political progress: my official departure from the Republican Party. As of January 1, 2013, I will be proceeding forward as a member of the Libertarian Party. My focus will still be on Federalist issues, but it is clear that the GOP has no interest in the Constitution. See my post from right after Election Day for proof. Who would vote for a platform so full of contradictions and obvious empty promises. The Libertarian Party promises freedom for all. Some of their candidates are nutty, but not nearly as nutty as Ron Paul (this is still a place where Sage and I disagree). While Paul does articulate a LOT of important and applicable - not to mention nearly guaranteed to be successful - ideas, no one wants to vote for a bigoted asshole for POTUS. If you want to elect a racist prick to the White House, you might as well stick with the one that's already there. At least he can pretend he's not racist in the current climate. The "conservatives" who promised change in the Republican Party starting the day after the election never spoke; they never presented a plan. That's no surprise. They were promising the change or replace the party to lure Federalists and Libertarians to vote LOTE. Many fell for it. I, however, voted for their guy with the following in mind: 1. Their candidate was not going to win my state, no matter what I did, and 2. my voting for their loser proved that I was not the reason their candidates always fail as they do. Can't blame me this time, guys. I voted for your idiot just like you wanted.
My dream is still a new party for conservatives along the lines of the platforms I have been writing, but hanging around the party of centrist liars has taken its toll. I am ready to move to the future. I hope you are too. May 2013 bring you all the peace, happiness, and wealth that you can imagine for yourself.