Monday, February 21, 2005

Left to Right Conversion

FrontPage Magazine has an article by a former hard-leftist (Communist) who is now a conservative, describing the 12-point program she had to go through to achieve sobriety. Link.
The first step in any successful recovery program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, is to admit that there is a problem. For a leftist, then, stepping out of denial is the beginning of a journey toward clearer thinking and political sanity. I approach this topic with only a hint of humor, because I myself am a recovered leftist, with over 25 years of sobriety. Was I drunk on left-wing propaganda? Yes, and I became a user at a very tender age – as a child, in fact, in the home of my parents, who schooled me in the ways of communism and socialism.

I believe this topic is extremely important at this juncture, because the far left is finding itself on the wrong side of history yet again and many of its members are lost at sea. I try to imagine myself, had I not awakened to the wrongness of my ideology, trying to survive both the re-election of George W. Bush and the successful Iraqi election. I would be beside myself with anger and disappointment. My index fingers would be in utter fatigue from non-stop pointing to assign blame. I might even threaten to move out of the country, as my brother and his wife are doing! (...)

I was brought up in the 1950s and ’60s in a suburb of New York City by two World War II veterans whose own parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. My mother’s father took her to Communist Party meetings when she was a youngster, and my parents attended camps in upstate New York where young “reds” congregated, and where they met. As a child I read the works of Howard Fast and the periodical entitled The National Guardian. By the age of twelve, I was completely indoctrinated into the Communist mind-set and openly debated my seventh-grade social studies teacher on U.S. policy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (...)

There is no way for a “cradle” conservative to imagine the pain that a recovering leftist goes through when the veil is finally lifted. The second step in official 12-step programs is belief in a higher power, believing that your higher power can restore you. In recovering from leftist thinking, this step is not a requirement, but for me it was essential. In fact, during my 30th year I experienced a spiritual awakening that initiated many changes in values, which in turn brought me to my first conservative action step: voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980.(...)

The 12th step in the AA program is to carry the message of recovery to others. It is a marvelous step because in doing so, you cement the fact that you have finally arrived at some place of clarity and are strong enough to spread the message. To all those whose beliefs have been shaken by recent events, to all those whose ideological houses have been built on sand: Take heart, because there is hope if you will bravely admit that you were in the wrong and move to the right. As Dennis Prager says, it is okay to be wrong; it is not okay to stay that way.

Luckily, the move from "liberal" to "conservative" is much easier. Before I was born, my father was active in Norman Thomas's Socialist Party, which was anti-Communist. Franklin Roosevelt converted him to a liberal Democrat, which he remained until his death. Growing up, most of my friends had parents who were either Socialists or ex-Socialists. For me too, the first time I ever voted Republican was for Ronald Reagan in 1980.

I fully identify with Ronald Reagan's statement that "I did not leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me." Basically, I am a libertarian with a small 'l'. I used quotation marks above for "liberal" and "conservative" because they have completely changed meaning. When I was young, liberals were closer to libertarians, but during the Vietnam War, anti-American leftists took over not only the Democratic Party, but also the term liberal. They turned it on its head. In civil rights, liberals moved from judging a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character to judging him solely on the color of his skin. They moved from wanting greater liberty for people to wanting the government to make all decisions for them. So my beliefs have not changed much. However, when I was young they were called "liberal" and today they are called "conservative."


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