When You Don't Recognize Yourself

March 30, 2019

If you'd told me two years ago that today I would be a conservative who had abandoned feminism, I would have laughed at you and questioned whether you knew me at all. I wouldn't have believed you, not even (and especially) if my life depended on it. There was no way that unfortunate fate could find me. I mean, I did't go to a conservative church. There was no way in hell I could be indoctrinated like that. 


But, here I am two years later, a conservative who has abandoned feminism. What the hell happened? (Don't worry, this post is not about why you should think like me.) I'm just now seeing this change from the perspective of my long-time friends, and it's scary, which gives me more forgiveness for the handful of them who have abandoned me. I have to say that most of my long-time friends still speak to me, and many still love me. But some have tossed me in the trash along with their empty bottle of Xanax prescribed because... well, Trump's-America.


All of this started on that truly devastating day when Trump became president. I hadn't taken him seriously as a candidate because I didn't need to. The media told me the odds were extremely low he would be elected. Clinton was projected to win by a huge margin, which was a relief to me, even though I didn't like her. So, imagine my shock, and the shock of every other liberal in the country, when those words flashed on the pub TV screen "President Donald Trump." It might as well have said "President Donald Duck." This was a joke! A terrifying, embarrassing joke! I felt like our country had given up on taking itself seriously. First, Arnold Schwarzenegger became the governor of California, now Donald Trump was supposed to run the COUNTRY? It made ME want to give up on taking America seriously. Especially, my fellow Americans. 


No matter the topic, I've always needed to answer the question WHY? So, when this earth-shattering event happened I stepped back from the situation emotionally and asked the question, "Why is Trump my president?" Many of my liberal friends did not step back, they leaned into a fantasy,"He's not my president." But, I knew that he was. And I needed to know why. 


When I asked my liberal friends why this happened I got a simplistic answer, "Because half of the United States is racist and if women (especially the white kind) didn't vote against their interests, we wouldn't be in this situation." You could almost see resentment make a permanent mark on their faces. The irony was lost on me (at the time) that they called people racists and then proceeded to make generalizations about people's race. Also lost on me was that they championed "Women," except for the majority of women who are too stupid to know what's good for them. But, two years ago I thought their explanation was possible, however, improbable. I mean, Obama was the first president to be elected by a 51% popular vote margin two elections in a row. To believe their explanation, I would need to believe that the exact same people who voted for him the first time voted for him the second time, and that the remainder of the people who didn't vote for him only didn't because of his "race." This was implausible, so I suspected the answer to my question was not skin-deep.


I decided to listen to Trump voters explain themselves. I was listening for bigotry, even just below the surface of their words. My first surprise was learning that not all Trump voters were white. I mean, obviously, right? But the more I listened, the more I realized that there was a massive host of non-white Trump voters. So, I listened to their logic, completely ignoring the whites with a prejudicial assumption that their motivation for voting for Trump could only be race-based, even if they didn't know it. You see, I had been convinced by an ideology (an already established set of beliefs) that all whites were inherently racist, including me, even though in my heart I didn't feel that way. 


To make a two-year story short, the more I listened to people of color explain their logic on voting for Trump, and for being conservative in general, the more I was open to the idea that most people don't think with their skin. After listening many hours each day to conservative people of color (the authoritative voices for liberals), as well as other minorities like gay Dave Rubin, the more I became open to their logic. I found that when my ideology was confronted with skilled arguments and facts, I couldn't refute them. (I also couldn't shame them through my computer screen for being unorthodox, so, they were able to complete a full sentence.) In short, if it weren't for black conservatives, I wouldn't be one. (Conservative, that is. Not black. Ha!) Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell are lovers of facts. And when you open yourself up to letting facts live where emotion used to, there's no hope for liberalism to survive (at least not in it's postmodern form). 


So, what exactly has changed? Well, for me, everything. I no longer assume I know what someone thinks by looking at the color of their skin. Like, the other day when my Asian female colleague trusted me enough to tell me she voted for Trump. I just nodded. Two years ago my jaw would have hit the floor. People who look like her aren't supposed to like people who look (and act) like him. I mean, this is completely unorthodox! Actually, two years ago she wouldn't have trusted me enough to tell me she voted for Trump. To her, I would have been another one of those overly-educated liberals who expected her to think a certain way and, furthermore, felt entitled to assume that she did. When she told my WHY she voted for him I nodded knowingly, because I had already heard many other people express the very same reasons many, many times. (Spoiler alert: race was not among their reasoning.)


I never thought I would say that becoming conservative has set me free from a mental box, not much larger than a coffin. It's opened up my mind. Made me a less judgmental person. Less prejudice. I no longer expect people to think with their skin or their genitals. Nor do I call people people names when they disagree with me, names they wouldn't call themselves, ones ending in "ist" or "phobic". Because I've found that people who deserve those labels actually embrace them. And reserving those words for them gives these words the potency they need. And, finally, I no longer hate the color of my own skin. I've dumped a lot of undeserving guilt and shame that was assigned to me along the way.


The ideology I have abandoned was purchased at a steep price - $35,000 in student loans, to be exact. More, actually, with interest. (I hope I can pay it off by the time I'm 50!) One thing that makes me the most sad is that even after spending all that money, I can't claim to be an educated person. College did not teach me HOW to think. It taught me WHAT to think. Turns out it doesn't take a conservative church to be indoctrinated.


I wonder what mindset I would have embraced on my own if college were still the marketplace of ideas that it was intended to be. If my professors had presented me with at least two different plausible ideologies. I am convinced that I wouldn't have willingly chosen the holy sanctimony of political correctness. After much research outside of the institution, I've decided being an identitarian is a heavy cross to carry. And it leads to tribalism. And tribalism doesn't end well.


So, let me tell you what this completely unexpected transformation feels like to me. Freedom. It feels like freedom!



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