So, let’s say you realized, that, try as you might, you’re not like the rest of them.
You’re different. You don’t instantly agree with them. Their assumptions are no longer yours. Maybe, secretly, they never were. But now, you find yourself the odd man out as they rant, they rave, they ridicule.
You realize–in a quiet, private moment–that you aren’t a liberal. What next? What do you do? Can you let go from the safety net of agreeable party conversation and follow your own path? It’s quite a leap. Anyone who has done it will tell you–it’s never easy. See: David Mamet.
And I know–I know–you’ve never considered, ever, that you might be a conservative. Because, for the longest time, being a conservative was met with edgy derision and mockery. The “typical conservative,” as identified by the media and those in entertainment, is a cloddish clown–a humorless scold devoid of contemporary caché and hip fashion. Some of them make you angry. Some make you laugh at their earnestness. Some… you just don’t get. They’re weird.
I get it. I was there, once, facing a new terrain of oddballs. It’s important to note, however, that this stereotype–although true in some parts–in the larger sense is false. And it is a stereotype created by a movement and its proponents in the media that has owned the narrative since I was in diapers (at least ten years). The idea that conservatives are somehow more intolerant and angry than liberals is a lie. Both have their fair share, but the nature of conservatives is “live and let live.” It’s a shame that a few of them still don’t get that part. But all in all, the oddballs are oddly cool.
How do you make that transition from left to right? How do you accept that you are now the hated? The reviled? The dork? The hater of women, minorities, and women minorities? Should you even bother, if bothering means you’ll be smeared as a racist? Is it better just to walk out of one group and avoid the other? Disown any identification and remove yourself from such ideological battles? That would be easy, if you did not live in a liberal world. But if you do live there, then what do you do? How do you come out of the closet, as a rightie, without ruining your life?
By asking that question, you answer it. The animus directed at one who leaves the fold explains the value of the journey out. Its struggle dictates the meaning. The slings and arrows one experiences means, quite simply, that you are onto something. For the anger toward your move is a sweaty reaction to courage that others (like the attackers) lack.
If you were to define real rebellion–the act of a true recalcitrant–it would be through the condemnation of your leap. Consider that by becoming a liberal–moving from right to left–you will be the recipient of the age old “strange new respect.” You will be lauded. You will gain opportunities afforded to the cool who made that leap already. You will keep friends, and make more. You will experience opportunities that are available only to those who speak what pretends to be daring, when it is solely predictable. That observation tells you that there is nothing rebellious about it. Ariana reaped a new life from it. So did David Brock. And every celebrity on the wane. It’s the lifeline for dead ends.
Consider the opposite, my dear troubled liberal. Moving right cannot be done at night. The first time you reveal a traditionally conservative thought (you are pro-life, you believe in American exceptionalism, you decry dependence and government interference, you balk at racial politics, you embrace free markets while eschewing punitive taxes and regulations*), it cannot be hidden. The spotlight finds you, and, like a magnifying glass on a spider, it seeks to fry.
For that alone, your change is worth it. There is nothing more rebellious, truly, than turning right. There is nothing more daring than standing alone, facing the onslaught of a smirking media, and saying, “Here I am, I am not you.” There is nothing edgier than saying to the edgy, “You lie. You are as edgy as a frisbee.”
The colonial rebels were resisting the same thing. They didn’t want to be overtaxed, controlled from afar, or have all aspects of their lives regulated. They were TRUE rebels, not fake Sean Penn champagne rebels. That’s what the country was founded on, and that’s what we’re in danger of losing. (It’s STILL what defines us. Unlike every European country, we find “security,” i.e. a safety net available at our beck and call, beneath us. That may be the most significant manifestation of the American mindset. THAT is American exceptionalism. “Rugged individualism” is NOT dead. We’re NOT that far from the frontier, nor do we wish to be. We’ll leave a stultifying, deadening desire for “security” at all costs to the ossified empires of the past. We want freedom, and the risk is the exhilaration.
The only way I truly changed was interpreting the rejection of my “change” as validation. It was liberating. It was freedom. And it’s the only way to convey the value of such transformation to the young and confused. It is time to accept that a peculiar creaking creepiness exists in certain places on the right, for it will only open doors to new recruits, relieved that you understand their reticence.
And when they come, accept their own weirdness with open arms.
*NOT all conservatives believe in “all” the same things, however. It’s the problem we have with many newbies who wish to climb aboard. By forcing them to accept every conservative idea, they see it as too hard and choose the other direction because it’s easier. Give them time, and do not appoint yourself the bouncer of a movement because it makes you feel superior or “more conservative.” That only makes you irritating. Likewise, new converts who embrace all ideas and principles with hard-charging relish should pull back on labeling others around you for not being as “hardcore.” Chances are, those people were conservative when you were reading Highlights.