By Peter Bauer
My change from conservative to liberal was not an abrupt instant of outrage, but rather a gradual conclusion. The more I started to really understand the world around me, the more I felt like I had been systematically ripped off by crooks who have been rigging our “democracy” since the Nixon Administration.
Like many teenagers, I parroted the politics I heard at home, which in my case was a conservative Christian household. My parents came from a specific cultural subgroup that shaped the way they viewed the world, and therefore, the way they raised me. While they always taught me to respect people regardless of their race or creed, I was set on guard against any political candidate that supported gay rights or abortion (the two most stinging liberal platforms). This meant that we supported politicians who were seen as morally right, regardless of the fact that they waged war, discriminated against women, and served the benefit of the richest people in the country. The high school I went to was populated by the children of working class conservatives, so my political views were reinforced at school.
When I got to college, I began to question the world around me. Without my parents recycled rhetoric, I was forced to look at issues on my own and decide for myself. That spring, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” was launched and I was torn between my conservative upbringing, and the agitation I witnessed on campus. The president was a good guy, I assumed, and I believed that he was doing what was in our nation’s best interest. I was wrong.
As I continued my education, I took some political science and women’s study classes that really broadened my perspective of the world around me. In the spring of my sophomore year, I took a class that blew the doors off my conservatism. It was an African American studies class taught by an instructor who I felt was balanced and trustworthy. One day we watched a film called “The Best Democracy Money Can By” based on the book by investigatory journalist Greg Palast. This film single handedly changed my mind about the events surrounding the 2000 election, and I realized that our country had been hijacked. I could no longer trust the Republican Party because they were the perpetrators in what I believed to be the tampering of our most sacred institution: free elections.
The more I educated myself, the more I realized that these fear mongers would stop at nothing. They exploit hot-button “moral” issues for political gain. They overstep their constitutional separation of powers. They lied about the 2000 election, Saddam, WMD’s, and invasion. Their inability to speak the truth makes me seriously reconsider their account of 9/11. Who’s gained the most from that deplorable event? How many more civil liberties will I have to give up before I'm safe? How many more countries do we need to invade before we’ve defeated terrorism?
The events of the last seven years have totally eroded any faith I had in my government, specifically the Republican Party. I grew up believing that my leaders had my best interest in mind, and led with moral certainty. Now I realize that I live in a corrupt country that is trudging closer and closer to outright fascism. If there is a future for this country, it will come from citizens standing up for truth and justice. These two traits, for me, are no longer synonymous with conservatism.