Converted/Reconverted to the Left

I’ve seen mention here that some dopers were actually former right-wing advocates, but have since either moved or moved back to a more liberal view.

My question is, what prompted this epiphany, and at what age did this take place? Most of my conservative friends and collegues are in their 30s and 40s, and IMHO, are already firmly cemented in their beliefs. Your thoughts?

You’re better off seeking out opinions in the IMHO Forum, (where you will next find this thread).

I’ve certainly moved toward the middle, away from the right the past 2 years or so.

Basically just Bush and the whole war and the ridiculous excuses have pushed me away from that side.

Having said that, I don’t flee the right to go to the left. I don’t believe Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld sat around in a room, laughing evilly at their evil plans. However, I do hold them responsible for their actions and would never vote for them.

I have often heard the view espoused that people move to the left as they get older and more exposed to different views and types of people. Hard to believe that gays are uniformly evil when there’s that nice lesbian couple down the street that waves hello to you every morning. Hard to believe that Christianity is the One True Faith when you witness good people of other (or no) faiths doing good things. When you like someone, you want them to have the same rights as you do, generally (and to fight for the rights others have if you are in a disadvantaged group). The foundation of social conservatism is to limit rights for people and preserve the present (or a past) social order. If you see that things can change and that society may well be better off for it, then you move further away from social conservatism.

On the contrary, and totally anecdotal, I have heard that a good deal of people move farther to the right economically as they get older and start working. It is easy to say we should have higher taxes when you don’t have to pay them. I know I’ve become more economically right since starting to work (although I am still in favor of national health care, because I believe it will actually save us money in the long run).

Up until two years ago (about when I graduated college) I was a lot further to the right than I am now. My current leaning is far more libertarian than left, but I agree with very little the current Republicans stand for.

What prompted the change was the growing disgust I felt with the GOP’s pandering to religious idiots, and their kind of fiscal responsibility that I expect from drunken teenage boys on spring break.

I was a libertarian in the 1980’s and actually voted for Reagan and Bush I.

I had my epiphany during the first Bush administration when I realized that I was being played for a sucker. While libertarianism in theory is a very attractive political position, I realized that in contemporary politics its primary function is to provide ideological cover for corporatism. I also realized that big business and the wealthy elites in this country pose as much of a threat to the happiness and freedom of regular guys like me as the government does.

That’s when I switched to the Democratic Party.

At 39, I am neither Right nor Left; while I tend to the Libertarian, I acknowledge that the State has a role. I am a free man and make my decisions as I see fit and not according to some abstract rubric or party policy. This hasn’t really changed in 20 years.

Yes, I got described as defiantly independent, why do you ask?

I was a Reagan Republican and heavily influenced by my conservative husband back in the 80’s. Since then I have been influenced by other people and by the observations I have made over the years to become quite a bit more left-leaning on social issues. I still have fairly conservative views on economic issues, though.

I’ve actually moved to the left when I got more money. During the bubble, when I made an absurd amount for a few years, I realized that paying a bit more in taxes was not going to hurt me at all.

I was an Eastern Republican for year, though socially liberal. I never voted for a Democrat for president - until 2000 that is. By that time the Republican party had moved so far away from my principles I couldn’t stand it. Since then, it is clear that Republican principles just don’t work . I’m afraid I can’t help being a member of the reality based community. I switched affiliation to the Democrats in 2004.

I am running for office now on the Democratic ticket, but I have often voted Republican in the past, and may do so in the future depending on the candidate. I to have been disillusioned by the war in Iraq, but get turned off quickly when people on the left start comparing Bush to Hitler or assume everything any gov’t official says is a conspiracy and Rove is behind it. (I also felt the same way when the Republicans were going after Clinton.)

My stance changes mostly depending on which parties fringes are taken more seriously. During most of the 90’s, I was more concerned about the left than the right. While the extreme right-wingers were holed up in compounds and were being laughed at by the main stream press (pre-OKC), extreme left-wingers were on the college campus being interviewed by the press. Now that the worm has turned, I am more afraid of the extreme right than the extreme left (Though the anti-religion bent of many on the extreme left tend to push me rightward pretty quickly).

Just my $0.02.

I was born lower middle-class economically, and was never religious. As an ill-informed 18 y/o, I considered myself leftist both socially and economically.

When I went to college to study engineering, I heard that the jobs were mostly in defense and related fields, so I started changing my outward appearance to fit in. I started espousing more right-wing beliefs, and by my late 20s, would have considered myself definitely right of center. This process was helped along by the fact that I was making money now and didn’t feel like such a have-not. I also wanted very much to get married and have a family, and this goal seemed more in line with right-of-center beliefs, which also seemed more desirable to potential mates. Finally, I was working at a place where most people were way right of center.

As I hit my 30s, several things happened. As I succeeded at work, I felt less pressure to fit in. Also, I found it easier to get dates, and discovered that I was very happy as a bachelor. As such, I felt less pressure to appear traditionally strong and stable and grab women’s attention in social situations. Later, I drifted in ‘swinging’ and open relationships, and found myself very comfortable in them. And I finally acknowledged to myself that I didn’t have any religion – I had tried and found wanting the advice, “Act as though you have faith, and you will be given faith”.

By my early 30s, I had arrived pretty much at the beliefs I have now (I’m 46).

Economic issues Although the Bush administration has redefined economic conservatism (it used to be about balancing the budget, now it’s about cutting taxes), I would still call myself right-of-center fiscally: my primary economic tenet is personal fiscal responsibility. And though the Republican party has certainly failed at this, and although Clinton (along with a Republican Congress) did balance the budget, I don’t see the Democrats as being fundamentally different, just temporarily out of power.

I remember a conversation in my mid-20s with an older, very right-wing co-worker, when I was just starting to make money. I told him that I didn’t feel much rapport with the Republicans – they seemed to be looking out for the rich. He replied, “Yes, but see that guy there?” He pointed to a janitor. “Ted Kennedy is looking out more for that guy’s interests than he is yours”. That stayed with me.

Social issues Definitely left-of-center. I am outspokenly in favor of equal rights for gays. I don’t want religious dogma injected into civil affairs. I believe consenting adults in private should be free to view what they want, and schtup whom they want. I don’t own a gun (I occasionally use them for my work), but I strongly oppose most gun control measures (which is probably due to my upbringing in a very pro-gun state). I differ with both parties in that I see this last view as perfectly compatible with the others.

I am very unhappy with this adminstration’s performance on just about everything, but honestly don’t see how anyone could feel otherwise. In 2008, I will vote for whichever party doesn’t nominate a fringe candidate.

I’ve talked about this before, but it was essentially marriage that changed me. I married someone disabled. All of the sudden, talk about people hoisting themselves by their own bootstraps became really silly. All of the sudden, I was at grave risk for becoming pregnant when I couldn’t afford it, financially or emotionally.

I abandoned the last vestiges of my religion, and suddenly became much more tolerant of differences. I began to be excited by the wide variety of people in the world, instead of feeling they had to conform to the mold I wanted them in. I relaxed. I realized that money isn’t everything. It’s just a tool. And I realized that I’m not in this alone.