Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Political Views

A person's political beliefs change throughout their lives. Most people are more liberal in their youth and become more conservative as they age. Winston Churchill once said, "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."

Before I could vote, at 17, I flirted with anarchism. I believed in my heart that government does not matter, so long as the people are of a strong moral character. I believed that our nation could succeed without a government. I was mistaken - not everyone has a strong moral character. As such, we need laws to protect us from one another - straightforward laws protecting us from attack, murder, or theft. From there, the natural progression of my opinions shifted in an unnatural direction - directly to liberalism.

It may seem as an odd shift, from an anarchist to a liberal. Yet, I shifted towards the liberal end of the spectrum entirely because of my views on social issues. I was a "social progressive" at 18 who believed in legalization of anything and everything to a fault. My thoughts never visited the fiscal end of the spectrum and on foreign policy, I was mostly apathetic but leaned towards opposition to the views of the Republican President who our nation had just elected. I was angry and still felt that the election was stolen by the corrupt President Bush. If I had allowed my anger to subside and had thought about the situation I would have realized something important. Vice President Gore had served in office for 8 years of relative peace and economic prosperity - the fact that the election was close showed a weakness in his candidacy that should have made me, as a liberal, angry at him. But, I digress.

There are some who became neo-conservatives after September 11, 2001. I was not among those people, but the event did change me. I was a freshman in college when it happened. It scared me - and I was happy that we had a President who acted decisively in the face of danger. I still disagreed with him, but he was the President and I supported him in the defense of our nation. A few weeks after September 11th, I saw the media go from fawning over the President to attacking him at every turn. We had went from a nation united - into one being torn apart by unnecessary attacks on the intelligence and honesty of our President. It upset me and I began to feel sorry for this man whom I used to despise. I was not yet on the right, but I was moving there. Around this same time, my faith began to shift and be tested. I began to doubt the divinity of Jesus Christ. For a while, I believed that my Messiah was merely a man, not man and divine. What was interesting about that - I never once doubted the resurrection of Christ.

Towards the end of my sophomore year in college, I made a great many mistakes. I was in a relationship with a woman who consumed my life and it led to my ignoring the things which mattered most - my family, my faith, and my studies. After we broke up, I took inventory and had an epiphany. I realized there are certain important parts of my life and that they are to be treasured. The seeds of social conservatism were laid and I began to question much of what I thought about politics. My crisis of faith came to an end as well and I never again questioned the divinity of Christ.

As time progressed, my views became more and more socially conservative and hawkish in my views of foreign policy. My views on abortion became more complicated by the realization that I could not with a clean conscience define when a life began myself. My views on same-sex marriage became changed as I came to the mindset that the Constitution did not ban the act of legislating morality - merely it banned the intervention of the government into church affairs. By the 2004 election - I had changed my voter registration to Republican and voted proudly for President George W. Bush.

Through my introduction into social conservatism I began to look into all that I could read. I read about all manner of conservative thought - from libertarianism to modern Dixicrat thought. This continued as I joined the College Republicans my senior year of college and remained modestly active during my two years of graduate school. My march towards conservativism had become complete. Towards the end of my graduate career - I had begun shifting towards the view of that the government which governs best, governs least. I began to realize that private solutions always work better than public / governmental solutions. In that vein - certain parts of my social conservatism primarily with regards to my views on drug legalization and same-sex marriage began to subside and while my views on foreign policy had not changed much, I became more libertarian in my thinking on the whole. Which is where I sit today.

I consider myself a pragmatic strict constructionist. I believe in a stricter interpretation of our Constitution, but I believe we must be pragmatic in our approach to governence. My views on particular issues - they are defined here. Why do I tell this story? Because it helps to paint a picture and lets my readers know who I am as a person. I'm a man - I'm not perfect and my thoughts have changed over time. I have not always been the man I am today and I'm proud that I've been able to grow and change over time. I may not always hold the exact same views I hold today - but I have finally reached a point where I understand my values. I hope this helps my readers understand me a little better. Thank you.

Cross posted at Old Line Elephant


The Right Miller said...

If we were all honest with ourselves, we would tell similar stories of our journey to where we are today politically, socially and spiritually. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Albany Lawyer said...

I hate being tough with you, but it seems like your views haven't settled yet. How can voters know whay you'll believe in two years?

M.R. Newman said...

I can understand where you're coming from. I'm still young and since turning 18, my opinions have run the entire gambit of the political spectrum. Yet, certain things have remained consistent now for over 4 years. Since 2004, I have been a Republican or Conservative (CPNYS). Since that point, I've supported fiscal conservatism. The major changes since that point have been with my strongly held views on fiscal conservatism making me realize that limited government works in all areas - not merely the fiscal ones.

My views have changed dramatically, and I understand the concern - but I feel that I am past the point where massive opinion shifts will occur in my life and that I have an overarcing viewpoint with which I view the political universe.

Thank you both for your comments!