What a Good Night

My good friend Walt came over, and I cooked up a fine meal and we watched (and still are) the Nova special on the elements, which is pretty fascinating even though the host makes me want to throttle him with his cutesy mannerisms. Made some crab cakes, and then a grilled monkfish over a white bean and tomato ragout, with a side of sauteed kale.

A couple of you are wondering what made me switch parties in the other thread. It was a lot of things, but part of it was finally just coming to terms with everything I believed in was bullshit. There are only so many times you can try to justify something, then watch the Bush administration cut you off at the knees, or see them get caught blatantly lying, or doing things like having their FEMA officials stage “press conferences” in which the reporters were… FEMA officials. Or all the talk about about deficit reduction while exploding the national debt. Or all the lies and lies and lies about Iraq. Torture and Schiavo were the beginning fissures for me. Every single one of you, if I were to say finish this phrase: “The sanctity of…” would be able to blurt out “marriage.” And yet, in an issue that is the business of no one but husband and wife, there was the GOP rushing to pass a national law INJECTING themselves into someone’s allegedly sanctified marriage. The fact that they were trashing the courts and ignoring medical science was just the icing on the cake.


I really don’t know why. I believed it. I identified with it. It was part of who I was for years. It was my deference to authoritarianism after years in the military. It was tribalism. A lot of it is because Democrats just seem like such spineless wimps who never fucking fight for anything they believe in. I’m a Democrat now and more sensitive to language than I once was, so I’m hesitant to call Democratic officials pussies because I know it will result in 20 emails yelling at me for my sexism, but good Christ the Democrats were and still are pussies. It’s enough to make you want to smash your head through your computer monitor when you see them constantly capitulating. Republicans might be crazy, but at least they fucking fight. Whether I am right or wrong, I stand up for what I believe. I’ll put my name, my ass, and my money on the line. So watching people repeatedly cave just makes me have no respect for them whatsoever. Sure there are political realities, but good grief, stand for something. I’m honestly shocked that other than a few jackasses, the Democrats fought the good fight on this latest contraceptives bullshit. It was all of these things and above. Having said all that, eventually I hit my breaking point with the GOP.

I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the religious fanatics, the attempts to get people fired, the absolute unwillingness to ever admit error, the smearing of the Schiavo’s husband, the gay-bashing, etc. Even if I bought into wingnut bullshit, I never thought of myself as a hater. And let’s be clear- I can be a colossal dick, but I’m not by nature a hater. I think you can understand the difference. I’m a live and let live kind of guy, I prefer growing things and nurturing things to destroying them, but I have no problem chucking hand grenades or shooting first if I think it is an imperative. I’ll help anyone who asks for it, but I’ll also not flinch before punching someone in the neck if I think they are threatening someone or something I love.

And while Republicans may very well have been crazy for decades, the outright ugliness, I think, has escalated beyond measure. The hideous treatment of Graeme Frost was the final straw, I guess. It was just the last, final, “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?” moment. You see the same thing from the same folks as they viciously attack Trayvon Martin for his horrible sin of being gunned down in cold blood.

But again, I will never know why it took so long. It’s not easy looking at everything you thought you knew and saying “Wow, was I ever full of shit.” But eventually, if you have two remaining brain cells bouncing around your thick noggin, the amount of evidence becomes unavoidable and undeniable.

Even for someone who voted for Bush twice.

216 replies
  1. 1
    Calming Influence says:

    Everyone has a blind spot; just glad you’re here.


  2. 2
    EdTheRed says:

    *slow clap*

    EdTheRed +6

  3. 3
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Well said, sir. Well said.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    srv says:

    Sometimes I wish you would go back so we could study you more.

    There must be a weakness in wingnutiness and we just have to find the gene to flip. Perhaps if we cloned DougJ or Al Maviva. Dissection is so… messy.

  6. 6
    jl says:

    I must admit I remember the day that Cole switched parties very distinctly. I forget the blog, but some comment came up that said ‘John Cole just registered as a Democrat!’.

    That stuck vividly in my memory ever since because I was puzzled. I thought “What the devil is a ‘John Cole’ and who the hell cares?”

    Then I came to this blog to find out, and perhaps, that was a small part of one John G. Cole’s karma reparations. And perhaps mine as well, for I have many sins that weigh heavily upon me, and I should be prepared for the consequences.

    Anyway, Cole did good. He is not neither hot nor cold, will not be spit out, and will escape the worst of Gehenna. I should be so lucky.

    Edit: Ah, I remember now, after a moment of puzzlement, I confused John with Juan Cole, and decided to find out why Juan Cole, despite all expectation, had been a conservative Republican.

  7. 7
    eemom says:

    Couple of you

    ferget politics. I am just thrilled to see that preposition.

  8. 8
    Clime Acts says:

    It’s enough to make you want to smash your head through your computer monitor when you see them constantly capitulating. Republicans might be crazy, but at least they fucking fight.

    These things are as true now as four years ago, despite four years of “our” side being in the white house. Always with the bending over backward before the fight even begins.

    Of course we’re already seeing Obama raise his rhetoric to more aggressive levels now that we’re entering campaign theatre season again. But during his first term? Meh…not so much. He’s a status quo cipher.

    So Cole, all of what you wrote is why you need to remain OUTSIDE the partisan fray as BJ Blogmaster, and call bullshit on ALL bullshitters, be they Dem or Repub. To hell with this Pro-Democratic Establishment crap. That’s just another pillar of the status quo.

  9. 9
    mclaren says:

    A lot of it is because Democrats just seem like are such spineless wimps who never fucking fight for anything they believe in.

    There. Fixed that for ya.

    Also, Democrats are spineless wimps who don’t really believe in much of anything. Barack Obama campaigned against torture and military commissions and assassination and against the Bush tax cuts and against endless unwinnable wars in third world hellholes…and then Obama signed off on the torture of Bradley Manning and authorized rigged kangaroo-court military commissions so grotesquely unjust that the lead military prosecutor resigned in protest (under Bush) and Obama signed an extension of the Bush tax cuts and Obama is still mired deep in the Afghanistan quagmire and now Obama’s barking and yapping about going to war with Iran.

    Barack Obama, like the rest of the Democratic party, doesn’t believe in much. He’ll mouth the platitudes, but then, when push comes to shove..torture, assassinating U.S. citizens without even accusing ’em of committing a crime, rigged show trials where the verdict is decided in advance and the “evidence” was obatined by torture…yeah, whatever. That’s fine. Let’s go have a chardonnay and eat some brie.

    That’s your Democratic party. Gutless empty liars who don’t relaly give a shit about anything but their paychecks.

  10. 10
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    When a conservative turns liberal, an angel gets its wings, that’s what I say.

    When I do some meta-reflection on how I ended up here, I think how easily it could have gone the other way. I think I have a natural inclination towards liberalism, insofar as such things exist, but most of family is Republicans (but not my parents, which I’m sure was a big factor.), and I was born and raised in the super-Republican Chicago suburbs. I was in 4th grade during the 2000 election, and supported Gore because a girl I had a crush on supported Gore. I read Culture Jam in 10th grade and, while I’m not quite the disciple I used to be, it blew my mind the way most teenage boys think Rand and Heinlein are mind-blowing. I finally had a way to interpret my vague dissatisfaction with the way things were.

    Just weird coincidences that got me to where I am, I guess. By rights my upper-middle-class suburban white boy self should be a conservative or at least a glibby, but thank God I ain’t.

  11. 11
    Hal says:

    Has anyone seen the foramerica.org ads perpetuating Rand Paul’s bullshit on the Senate floor about poor whittle gas companies “only” making 7 cents per gallon, compared to 46 cents per gallon on gas tax? Amazing how someone can feel sorry for companies that made 137 billion in profits last year.

  12. 12
    Mark H says:

    If you like Nova, watch the one called “How smart are animals”. The dog segment will blow you away, and I’m on with my octopus “Ruby”.

  13. 13
    freelancer says:

    Bravo, John.

  14. 14
    p.a. says:

    I’m about a decade older than John, and my ‘conversion’ was a decade earlier. Christ, thinking back, I subscribed to that pos David Horowitz’s newsletter (as well as the AEI Economist- must maintain my veneer of intellectualism). The first cracks came from realizing the economics was just bullshit; one only needed a functional brain to know that. Then the cascade of moralists and anti-GLBT people who were closet cases or had kids and affairs and… well, finally figuring out I had enough to do running my own fuckin life without trying to make anyone else’s harder.

  15. 15
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    Good for you for thinking and changing.

  16. 16
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    But again, I will never know why it took so long.

    Don’t be down on yourself John. Very few people are able to turn away from something as inherently tribal as partisan politics, with the exception of those who just don’t take any of it very seriously and really are just weathervanes blowing in the breeze. The cognitive barriers resisting change are really strong, if it is a subject you care about. You are a shining exception to that rule. I wish more people were like that.

  17. 17
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    7 cents on the gallon, multiplying everything out in terms of gallons per barrel and barrels consumed in the US per year is about $1.5 Trillion. Per year. Not counting foreign sales.

    So yeah, Rand Paul and the oil companies can both go fuck themselves.

  18. 18
    Punchy says:

    And I’d bet its hard to get laid nowadays for an unabashed Republican.

  19. 19
    kdaug says:

    I like pussies.

  20. 20
    Scott Alloway says:

    A lot of it is because Democrats just seem like are such spineless wimps who never fucking fight for anything they believe in.

    Sadly true. Democrats need to relearn how to street fight in politics. The old Connecticut Democrats I grew up with in the 1950s and 60s (Bailey, Ribicoff, Tom Dodd, Dempsey) knew how to do it. If the Pugs want Chicago-style politics, give it to them. No quarter, No mercy. Kick them in the teeth and THEN step on their knees. Their kind deserves no less.

  21. 21
    Cain says:


    I figured out conservatives were all bullshit during the 80s with the moral majority and how most of them had affairs or were getting AIDs and what not. In high school, I knew that they were all full of shit.

    A friend of mine from high school who is a unapologetic liberal, would have constant arguments with all his conservative friends from high school. My home town was a liberal spot in all of Indiana. It is a great place, and I hate to see it turn conservatives because of douchbags who I went to high school with.

  22. 22
    Helen says:

    So John, what happened to all your wingnut friends? Are you still friends and just don’t talk politics or do you have new friends? I ask because I cannot imagine leaving NYC (well except for Ireland, but that’s another story) because I am surounded by like-minded people. The thought of having to argue my side day in and day out, or worse, STFU makes me exhausted.

  23. 23
    Linnaeus says:

    People can change, and we need to allow for that. No one is “right” on everything from the day they’re born. I consider myself (broadly speaking) on the left now, but I wasn’t always that way. I look back at some of the views I once held and I’m embarrassed by them.

    But that’s life. I learned. I moved on. So do we all, I hope.

  24. 24
    Mark S. says:

    or doing things like having their FEMA officials stage “press conferences” in which the reporters were… FEMA officials.

    I forgot about that one.

  25. 25
    Lavocat says:

    My “come to Jesus” moment when I realized that it was high fucking time to leave the Democratic Party, giving them up for the hopeless hacks that they are (and seemingly always were), was when Obama wanted Geithner – tax cheat extraordinaire – as his Treasury Secretary. That and the same old gang of Clintonian triangulators, equivicators, and prevaricators who yucked it up with Billy Boy for eight long years. Enough was more than enough.

    Clinton may have been the first “black president” but Obama has proved to be the first black Clinton.

    And that ain’t a good thing.

  26. 26
    Ralphie; says:

    I once voted for Richard Nixon. True story.

  27. 27
    redshirt says:

    I found mocking Reagan to come as second nature, so I’ve been on the “THEY’RE INSANE” bandwagon for a long time now. Still have never liked the Democratic Party however.

  28. 28

    I also have to admit as a leftie that I admire fiscal conservatism by-and-large… I just haven’t seen it from the modern GOP in practice for much of (if not all of) my 48 years on the mudball. The idea of fiscal conservatism isn’t worth a gnat’s fart. But the idea of actually finding more efficient ways of spending the money the U.S. collects on behalf of us, and implementing it in policy is ALL very, very attractive to me. We still need to collect a metric buttload of money, and to spend it, to have the quality of life we have come to expect in this great nation, no doubt. But we could probably do a better job of it.

  29. 29
    Cain says:

    Since it is open thread, just wanted to tell folks that I worked as an extra on the set of Grimm in portland. It was a lot of fun, but it is definitely hard work. 10-14 days are a norm, and difficult and sometimes in bad weather. Respect.

    I think it’s great when actors are able to maintain being friendly even under such conditions.

  30. 30
    Ngillard says:

    What? You voted for Bush twice? Can that be true? I am blown away. Guess I have only been following you for two years but never would have thought that possible. Good grief! Glad you have your head on straight. What took you so long?

  31. 31
    Cain says:


    Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the Democratic Party either. They are all we got sadly enough. A new party that can explain to people their platform better and get rid of all these so called “progressive” advisors would be great.

  32. 32
    Lavocat says:

    @Helen: I agree. Let’s hear the rest of the story. How many of your old nutter friends are STILL your friends. And how many let politics come between friendship?

    I’m guessing the real friends are still your friends, no matter what.

  33. 33
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Scott Alloway:

    Democrats need to relearn how to street fight in politics.

    The anti-labor violence which unions had to fight thru to establish themselves had a lot to do with that. Not too many white Dems in the leadership today have had the direct experience of themselves or somebody in their circle of friends and family having had to face down real guns aimed at them with murderous intent, or of having had limbs broken and skulls cracked. Back in the 50s it wasn’t that uncommon a memory.

  34. 34
    boss bitch says:

    Its interesting that you say Democrats capitulate too much. I’ve been paying attention to politics for the past 4 years and I have never ever seen any group more cowardly than Republicans. This party buckles over and over again to the loonies of its party. They are terrified of fucking radio and tv hosts and they bow to the Church. The only time they find strength is when they are attacking the helpless.

    I don’t think Dems are spineless. The few that mess things up for the whole party, in my mind, are ratfuckers. Those guys are only out for self and then the rest of the party has to compromise because they care about what happens to the people in this country.

  35. 35
    dearolddad says:

    I started visiting balloon-juice a couple of years ago, after your epiphany (truth to tell I googled Juan Cole and accidently downloaded your site) There are conservatives in my life who I can stomach (they are what you must have been like…basically decent..just wrong), I also know some viscious right wing types…they are despicable people.

  36. 36
    Kiril says:

    This is when I first came here:

    the Jesus Bread-Golem Project hits another snag

    Well I just found this story by way of Balloon Juice (one of the finest kindsa juice) an it has us dismayed over at Fafblog.

    “I am dismayed because that little girl cannot eat the wafer,” says me. “Without the wafer she will never get her recommended daily allowance of Jesus.”
    “Giblets is not concerned with the heartless exclusionary legalism of the Catholic hierarchy!” says Giblets. “Giblets is concerned because it clearly states that only unleavened wheat can turn into parts of Jesus! We have been workin with leavened flour!”
    “But we have to Giblets,” I says pointin at the nicely molded Jesus dough. “Otherwise our Jesus Bread-Golem will not rise when we bake him.”
    “But what is the point of bakin a Jesus if the priest we get cannot turn him into a real Jesus?” says Giblets. “We will just have a huge, useless, tasty, fresh, bready Jesus sittin in our oven!”
    “But surely God will want to transubstantiate our bread Jesus,” says me. “It is our best plan yet for bringin Jesus back.”
    “God can’t make regular bread into Jesus! It is against the Jesus code!” says Giblets. “I told you we should have brought Jesus back as Cyborg Jesus. We have the technology. We can rebuild him!”
    “We cannot afford the technology,” says me. “It is like the time we tried to build Mecha-Jesus an could only buy one mechanical Jesus toe.”
    “We would have already had a functioning Jesus Clone if it wasn’t for you gettin the wrong Shroud of Turin,” says Giblets.
    “The Pope tole me it was genuine Jesus blood!” says me.
    “An now we are stuck with Crazy Templar Guy in our basement,” says Giblets.
    There is an eerie Latin moanin comin up from underneath.
    “I think he is hungry,” says me. “He wants more soup an Byzantine gold.”
    “Man,” says Giblets, “I hate Crazy Templar Guy.”

    Labels: godmotology

  37. 37
    Justin Morton says:

    I switched in 2003. It was the Iraq war. Once it became clear there was no exit strategy and no WMD, I became furious with the administration and started questioning everything they did.

  38. 38

    It’s easy to bash democrats, but the truth is, as I see it, the country en masse made a decision to turn right for whatever the reason, and democrats, a lot of them, just tried to survive that turn. Nothing to be proud of, but I don’t get calling them pus sies on the whole.

    And also buying into the “fighter” GOP. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and other times what looks like fighting is supreme arrogance and entitlement run amuck.

    I see the GOP as American voters preferred party, for the obvious tribal and color reasons. Democrats, some of them, did capitulate the past thirty or so years, but the bulk just tried to hold the fort down under a conservative choice made by voters.

    And since they are for government doing good works at home especially, dems task is more difficult to persuade humans to step forward as in making progress, something that goes against human instinct to resist change. While the wingers who are for the status quo, just have to maintain that fear of the unknown element that always comes with any kind of change

    Add on to that, the dem party is the voice of the powerless, whether that be the poor, or minorities, neither of which are popular with the white majority, on the whole.

    The winds of ideology are shifting in fits and spurts, seems to me, and democrats in office seem to realize this, and are getting bolder against a failed philosophy for governing a country that is the conservative mindset. But the wingnuts still have the tribal loyalty advantage, and just as important, greater wealth to fuel their wurlitzer of lies to remain viable for getting themselves elected. They are morally and politically spent creatures though, and as it gets harder to fool enough voters to stay in power, they are resorting to desperate measures like voter suppression unbound, and a compulsion to be ever purer in belief of their rightness.

    Things are heading in the right direction currently, but whether it is too late is still up in the air, as to whether there is time to make the changes needed to escape a dystopian experience for the country.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    @Ralphie;: So did my dad. But when he got back from Vietnam, even a 7 year old could see the difference.

    John’s evolution was… inevitable. The simple fact that he would let raging wingnuts, liberals and trolls go all Batle Royale on his blog was a real outlier at the time. I cannot remember him banning anyone in 2005. It wasn’t until he got all liberally PC that people got banned.

    It is weird though. DougJ went from a troll to Capt. Obvious to Flaming Saul Alinsky. Makes me and the most liberal president since Nixon look almost wingnutty. Perhaps Obama is just as uncomfortable playing the part reality makes.

  40. 40
    boss bitch says:

    And please, lets not turn this into a thread bashing the Democratic party. Progressives or Liberals ain’t much better when it comes to messaging, fighting, organizing, sticking together, GOTV, etc. In fact you are all way worse in many aspects. So don’t throw stones until you gain at least 40% of the Dem party and have more leadership roles. And I don’t want to hear the typical whine that establishment Dems won’t allow you to blah blah blah…I mean really. Dems are spineless but somehow they manage to keep back the Fighting Liberals? LOL….

  41. 41
    dead existentialist says:

    Omini domini etc., you are forgiven my son.

    I like to think that some of my former students and associates evolved from the goo that is rancid national authoritarianism too. (And I have hope for all who presently dwell in that hell-hole also.)

    But really, I hope that the little kindergarteners I’ve been teaching this week get to live in a world where they are as safe (or safer) than the one they inhabit now.

  42. 42

    @Justin Morton: Bless you.

    I recall going to my last Tennessee Titans game with a bunch of moderate-to-right-leaning friends. They were all very “OORAH!” about the impending attack on Iraq, and I could only sadly shake my head and wonder how these very smart people could be so… susceptible to what seemed to me to be nothing more than pumped-up jingoism and fairly transparent lies. I had agreed with attacking Afghanistan, even though I suspected we would not really be able to accomplish the goals we all wanted to, there. But Iraq? No, please. Just no.

  43. 43
    p.a. says:

    @Cain: my 1st presidential election I voted for Jon Anderson (wikipedia him if you don’t know), and let me tell you when he came to my campus it was like a visit by a rock star. I may have voted for Poppy over the Duke and Clinton, but all Dems for pres since then.

  44. 44
    dp says:

    Dude, better late than never.

  45. 45
    superfly says:

    I only knew you as a non-crazy, somewhat reasonable conservative back then, since Kos, and maybe some others, would link to you occasionally, but I suppose you might have been coming out of the fog.

    I also remember the comment threads were crazy.

  46. 46

    @boss bitch: I agree with that. WE aren’t pushing hard enough, but we must.

  47. 47

    @Punchy: Well, yes and no. I actually have someone who would very much like to be involved with me and doesn’t hesitate to let me know periodically. I don’t think I could ever explain to him it’s his staunch republican views that override his obvious good qualities in my eyes.

    But he doesn’t seem to have many gaps between women who are willing to screw him. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes. But I’m afraid that for most, his politics don’t matter much to them.

  48. 48
    kdaug says:

    I’ll help anyone who asks for it, but I’ll also not flinch before punching someone in the neck if I think they are threatening someone or something I love.

    That, in one cold quote, is exactly where I’m coming from.


  49. 49
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    from bush v gore through all of 2001, i lost my centrist card. i couldn’t believe these assholes could push such a huge agenda at such a time. i also couldn’t believe how much help they were getting.

  50. 50
    Low Umbrage Threshold says:

    You, sir, are a human being. Well done.

    Now, please pass the crab cakes. Ron Paul will be on CSPAN2 shortly to speak about the giant, radioactive, UN-trained scorpion that lives in his basement, followed by Saxby Chambliss singing the Yugoslavian love songs of his youth.


  51. 51
    skyryter says:

    @Clime Acts: Yeah, but who are you voting for?

  52. 52
    master c says:

    Wow…I wonder if I can do this with the Catholic church… I started reading Ann Althouse cuz I thought she would make a public switch that I would enjoy, but no. She married a winger commenter and pooftah, the dream died. When I got here, the switch had been made and I didnt see it in progress, but I like hearing about it, and I appreciate your honesty. Thank you.

  53. 53
    Scamp Dog says:

    John, I can’t beat on you too hard because I voted for Reagan twice. Yes, I apologize. They had me convinced that, somehow, the Democrats were worse.

    The “too much bullshit” line for me included the nonsense about an anti-flag burning amendment. Flag burning is stupid, sure, but how exactly is it damaging our country? We’re supposed to ban an activity because stupidity offends us? Or is it that we think our country is so fragile that seeing a piece of cloth burning will destroy our patriotism?

    My current take on things is that yes, this is a conservative country. Our two-party system has a conservative party and a radical, right-wing nationalist party with a taste for authoritarianism and theocracy. Not being an authoritarian theocrat, I’ll vote with the Dems for now. If and when we get an actual liberal party, I’ll vote for them.

    So let’s get down to business and destroy the Republican party, and restore sanity to the body politic. And when somebody changes their mind to join us, let’s welcome them to our side.

  54. 54
    dead existentialist says:

    @Lavocat: You must not have been old enough to vote for Humphrey.

  55. 55
    Cain says:

    @superfly: @superfly:

    He’s friends with all of them now :) His old conservative buddies? Not so much.

  56. 56
    Calouste says:


    7 cents per gallon is close to a 2% margin. Supermarkets typically run on half that, a 1% margin. And you have very little risk running a gas station that the product goes off, gets recalled or doesn’t appeal to the customers.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @General Stuck (on self glorifiication):

    All well said. I think that’s basically right.

  58. 58
    gwangung says:

    @boss bitch:

    And please, lets not turn this into a thread bashing the Democratic party. Progressives or Liberals ain’t much better when it comes to messaging, fighting, organizing, sticking together, GOTV, etc

    Hell, yes. Master the basics, like…counting the votes. 90% of the loudest idiots don’t have the slightest clue what it means.

    Simple hint: select your goal. Work backwards from it. DON’T SKIP ANY STEPS–saying to ask for way more than you want means you’ve skipped steps.

    Too many folks are long on ideas and short on implementation (and implementation that’s simply Politics 101).

    So don’t throw stones until you gain at least 40% of the Dem party and have more leadership roles. And I don’t want to hear the typical whine that establishment Dems won’t allow you to blah blah blah…I mean really.

    This is good advice, because if you were going to form a third party, you would have to take the exact same steps ANYWAY.

  59. 59
    danielx says:

    Everybody is a product of their environment, and John Cole, this was your life. You learned differently, and (of course) learned that there is nobody that wingnuts hate more than an apostate.

    I had the advantage of one of those life changing conversations at an early age. (Note: cliche’ warning.) I was 16, and draft registration was coming up, and Vietnam was in full swing. As it happened, my father and I were watching the usual evening news of people shooting at each other in the jungle. Now, pop was a very patriotic and Republican guy as far as I knew. He had graduated from high school in 1940, which was a very bad time to graduate from high school. He’d spent three years of quality time in such garden spots as New Guinea and New Britain (which were and are some of the planet’s top ten shitholes), and seen both Manila and Tokyo as fields of ashes.

    Was one of those conversations you remember forever…Nixon was president and we were oh, three years or so into his secret plan to end the war which got him elected. We were talking about the draft, and pop said that he’d rather see me go to Canada, at which point my jaw hit the floor with a loud thud. He said there wasn’t a goddamned thing in Vietnam worth one more American’s life, mine or anyone else’s. And, and…I can remember this very clearly: “…the government has been lying to us about the war for years, and that sonofabitch Nixon lied to me to get my vote by saying he’d get us out. I’ll never vote for a Republican again”.

    I kind of treasure that conversation.

  60. 60
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Clime Acts:
    Both sides do it!! *drool*

  61. 61
    Tim in SF says:

    ’m hesitant to call Democratic officials pussies because I know it will result in 20 emails yelling at me for my sexism,

    The etymology of “pussy” in that sense does not come from the pussy=vagina, it comes from a shortened form of “pussy-footing”:

    “To pussyfoot around the question or point means to be evasive, cautious, or conceal one’s opinions. The reference is to the careful soft tread of the cat and has no vulgar implications, other than obvious ties to weakness, which “pussy” sometimes connotes”

    So, feel free to use the word “pussy” to mean wimpy. If someone gives you shit, they’re ignorant.

  62. 62
    Birthmarker says:

    I’m not by nature a hater. I think you can understand the difference. I’m a live and let live kind of guy, I prefer growing things and nurturing things to destroying them

    John, John…are you sure you were ever really a Republican?

    I honestly don’t know if I have ever voted for a Republican. I know I haven’t on a national basis. Maybe somewhere along the way locally…but probably not…

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    It is weird though. DougJ went from a troll to Capt. Obvious to Flaming Saul Alinsky. Makes me and the most liberal president since Nixon look almost wingnutty.

    Aah…the bad old days when Doug was a simple commenter(s).

  64. 64
    Hazel Stone says:

    So, re: the “pussies” comment. You still think sexist things, you are just too annoyed by people calling you on it to use it AS OFTEN?

    Wow, with feminist allies like this…

    “It’s not easy looking at everything you thought you knew and saying “Wow, was I ever full of shit.” But eventually, if you have two remaining brain cells bouncing around your thick noggin, the amount of evidence becomes unavoidable and undeniable.”

    Sexism, demeaning women, constantly othering and dismissing us is also full of shit. Make a meaningful change, please. it will vault your site’s value way up if feminists are not cringing about half the time.

  65. 65
    gex says:

    @Jeffraham Prestonian: The bummer of that is that fiscal conservatives and glibertarians aren’t interested in finding out if the money is used efficiently. We could go all efficient, and they’d still just look at raw amounts and say it’s too much or that we need to be yet even more efficient.

    But I’m with you. The worst part of their framing is that their fiscal conservatism implies we want to waste the money. Bull.

  66. 66
    slag says:

    @Mark H: I loved that one. Sent the link to the dog video to my dog trainer friend.

    Sadly, I don’t have an octopus trainer friend to send a link to, but back when I volunteered at my local aquarium, I got to hear all kinds of octopus stories. Also…dolphin smarts freak me out.

  67. 67
    RadioOne says:

    I was a Republican in the 90’s mostly because I was in a college fraternity and I thought economic conservatism and free-market claptrap were considered cool by my friends and because I thought the hacky sack hippies at my school were funny. And of course to rebel against my liberal Democrat parents.

    I’ve been a fierce partisan Democrat ever since the Bush-Gore election, but I accept the belief that the Democratic party should be considered a weak and broad coalition of conflicting liberal and moderate interests. Ever since the party was founded by Andrew Jackson, it’s always been the “herding cats” party. And I actually like that, because a difficult coalition usually means a more open-minded coalition, able to debate and reflect on and refine their ideas.

  68. 68
    bogdan says:

    WRONG! Democrats are NOT pussies. They deal with reality. They are the true legislators. Democrats speak about reality, real thing, truth. Real numbers.

    However, it is much harder to explain reality with truth and real facts than to just say “deathpanels”, “socialism”, “illegal immigrants”. You know, made up bullshit.

    It’s not that Republicans are better at messaging. It’s that it is just much easier to make shit up that sounds good!

    Oh, and Republicans are the real pussies if you ask me. Their bark is far far worse than their bit. They talk tough and say all angry stuff but if you actually face them eye to eye in person they usually pussy right out. That has been my experience anyways. Either that or they are flying planes into IRS buildings or firebombing planned parenthood or whatever. That is violent but it’s the sort of violence that is done by cowards. They never want to actually face the people they are trying to direct their violence towards.

    I think that is why a lot of them are so passionate about guns. Because they are such cowards they just can’t feel safe without having guns around. That and I think it’s a like a penis extension for some of them as well. So feelings of inadequacy comes into it.

  69. 69
    Nicole says:

    This post makes me think of the thing Molly Ivins said about how people raised in the South become liberals- something along the lines of, “Once you realize they’ve been lying to you about race, you start wondering what else they’ve been lying to you about.”

  70. 70
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    I switched in the mid-60s. Mom was a Republican committeewoman who took me to see Nixon at a whistle-stop in 1960. In ’64 in our mock Junior High election, I couldn’t stomach any of ’em and voted for Clifton DeBerry, Militant Worker’s Party.

  71. 71
    LT says:

    Probably the fact that you were a blogger for the cause made it harder to leave. It’s easier for wallflowers to slip out of the party, so to speak.

  72. 72
    justdale says:


    You’d strap luggage to the roof and let the dogs ride in the car. I suspect you’d be finding it increasingly difficult to look Lily in the eye every night while you advocated for a party where doing it the other way around is considered “emotion-free crisis management”.

  73. 73
    RosiesDad says:

    Even for someone who voted for Bush twice.

    Damn. How painful was that to write?

    Yeah, John, you pretty much nailed most of the good reasons why anyone with any sense of morals and decency would have to leave the GOP. And also why the Democrats are so maddening.

    They all pretty much suck. Some just suck way more than some of the others.

    Also too, if you want to get really aggravated over how the system works, listen to this week’s This American Life. Then tear your f’ing hair out.

  74. 74
    Cassidy says:

    I only knew you as a non-crazy, somewhat reasonable conservative back then,

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Boy did you miss a few years.

  75. 75
    Mark H says:

    @slag: The one about the octopus that left its tank to eat fish/crabs in another tank and then returned home is an urban legend. I’m sure you’ve heard of that one.

  76. 76
    Clime Acts says:

    @A Humble Lurker:

    I like having you as my stalker.

    Guess what I’m wearing…

  77. 77
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @p.a.: Yeah, I voted for Anderson, too. I managed to not vote for Jimmy Carter, twice. Since Anderson, it’s been straight D. Won’t make that mistake again.

  78. 78
    gex says:

    @Hazel Stone: Sadly, there still isn’t any other way to insult a man as badly as describing them like women.

    And no, they won’t ever stop doing it.

    ETA: We will hear how Pelosi has balls and other Demns are pussies. Whatevs.

  79. 79
    Loviatar says:

    Its amusing watching John’s ditto heads rush in to commiserate and stroke him for switching parties. Yes the Republican party has gone full wingnut, but the current Democratic party has rushed in to fill the open conservative political space. Obama has continued so many of George W. Bush’s policies that the his term could rightfully be called Bush’s 3rd term. The few policies where he has differed from Bush tend to be conservative just not as rightwing as called for by the current Republican party – PPACA an an example.

    My theory on why the Democratic party doesn’t fight; maybe its because they agree with much of the Republicans proposals. Does anyone really think that the Charles Schumer and the rest of the 47% of Congress who are millionaires are for stricter regulation of wall street or higher taxes on the wealthy?

    47% of Congress Members Millionaires — a Status Shared by Only 1% of Americans

    “Despite the global economic meltdown in 2008 and the sluggish recovery that followed, that’s up about 7.6 percent from an estimated median net worth of $2.38 million in 2009 … and up 13 percent from a median net worth of $2.27 million in 2008. … Fully 36 Senate Democrats, and 30 Senate Republicans reported an average net worth in excess of $1 million in 2010. The same was true for 110 House Republicans and 73 House Democrats.


    John’s still a Republican in his outlook, however by both parties moving rightward and John not going full wingnut he automatically lost his part affiliation. He has now affiliated with the party that filled the political space formerly occupied by his previous party. I’ll give him credit for this much; he didn’t go full wingnut. He is a pragmatic Democrat; all bluster and shout, ready to attack and name call his allies and then cave on his principles all in name of pragmatism and political reality – torture and single payer as examples.

    In my eyes he voted for Bush three times.

  80. 80
    isildur says:

    I became a regular reader of your blog when I finally realized libertarianism was bullshit, and discovered I’d become a liberal. A friend pointed me here, saying ‘Hey, this is a blog by a guy who’s had pretty much the same thing happen.’

    For me, it was the eager willingness of libertarians (as exemplified by the commenters at Reason) to make common cause with people who were openly flying their theocracy flag. I couldn’t believe we were actually talking about allying with folks who think the universe is 6,000 years old.

    I saw a lot of ignorance and hatred over on the right during the 2008 election, and on the left I saw… reasonable people saying reasonable things, and never asking me to temporarily turn off my brain for political expedience.

    So I’m right there with you, John, though I think my final straw came a couple of years later than yours.

  81. 81
    Bruce S says:

    “vote for Bush twice”

    Better to be a pussy than a dick.

    (Of course the dick in me finds that totally incomprehensible. Bush was the most transparent piece of shit who ran for Prez until the coward McCain picked the idiot as his Veep. And, of course, Romneybot. My sister was a lifelong Republican and found Bush so repugnant she couldn’t vote for him. Went Dem when it mattered.)

  82. 82
    Pavlov's Dog says:

    As someone that can remember the epic blog wars going back to at least late 2002 – Bravo Mr Cole! I lived in the ME many years ago, and immediately knew that 9/11 would be transformed into an us versus them situation. Sad, because 99% of them wanted nothing to do with AQ. Became a political junkie at that time and ever since. The hatred for all things Europe mystifies. In the most simple terms, I changed clothes in front of three generations of a French family at the beach…but Janet Jackson’s nipple is an outrage in America. We are still talking about contraception, abortion, and evolution. What a strange country we are.

  83. 83

    Alan Cole and Chris Bunch wrote a set of books together. They’re good pulp fiction writers.

    In one of them, an expedition goes out, and is abandoned by one of its members who goes home to hog the glory.

    When the remainder of the expedition comes back, they run into something… although they are living proof that the liar lied, people had still hailed the liar as a hero… and to accept him as a villain would be hard. A great many people won’t do it.

    You’ll still find people insisting that George W. Bush was a great man, because they’d decided he was a hero, and they just can’t give that up, and can’t give up the feelings they had when they admired him. It just hurts too much, it’s just too hard to imagine.

    That sort of thing is why it’s hard for people to step away from something when it’s wrong. That’s why so many sensible folks are still sticking by the Republicans. That’s why it was so hard for you to walk away.

    It’s like the Milgram experiment – if you didn’t know about it, there was a good chance you’d have kept pressing the button, thinking it was shocking someone. It’s an ugly thing to know about one’s self, but it’s also human – and knowing it is one of the first steps to learning to avoid it.

    And, yeah, you’re right – too goddamned many Democrats are wimps. (The word “pussies” is the word that comes to mind for me, too. Yeah, I agree – not the right word to use, but that’s the word that meant “pathetic wimp” when I was growing up, and that’s what comes to mind.)

  84. 84

    @Kiril: You are as brilliant as always.

  85. 85
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @danielx: Wow. I had a somewhat similar moment when my twin brother and I were sitting with my Republican mom watching the draft lottery and we pulled a 34.
    It didn’t end her Republicanism, not then, but it sure changed her thinking on Vietnam.
    She switched to voting Democratic during Reagan, I think.

  86. 86
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    Well, it’s not like cock, dick, prick, etc. aren’t also used as insults. Are those different? I’m honestly asking.

  87. 87
    David Koch says:


    I like pussies.


  88. 88
    LT says:

    @Loviatar: Cole can pick his own fleas, but where Obama has repeated Bush horriblenesses Cole has been clearly critical of it.

  89. 89
    slag says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: Just stick with asshole and you’ll never have to worry about it.

  90. 90
    Cassidy says:

    In my eyes he voted for Bush three times.

    Sweet. Two confessions of being full of shit in one night! Who else wants to go?

  91. 91
    SamR says:

    I sent this to my former Republican friend who’s still struggling with the transition.

  92. 92
  93. 93
  94. 94
    LT says:

    @slag: “Just stick with asshole and you’ll never have to worry about it.”
    That’s one way to avoid pussies…

  95. 95
    slag says:

    @Mark H: I have! And I always suspected it. So, thanks for the confirmation.

    But the opening of jars story was also pretty popular back in the day. Were you an innovator, an early adopter, or a popularizer on that front? If you don’t mind my asking, that is.

  96. 96
    BGinCHI says:

    Cole should run against Manchin.

    Opening of the first TV spot, Cole in close-up: “I used to be a Republican but I figured out why that was a terrible thing. So why does my opponent insist on acting like one?”

    Then pan to Tunch drinking his water and his dogs tearing up the kitchen trash. Then back to Cole in his recliner.

    I’m telling you. This will KILL in WV.

  97. 97
    slag says:

    @LT: and pricks…

  98. 98
    Bago says:


    He is not neither hot nor cold, will not be spit out,

    That is at least three braces/parenthesis deep in a non query language.

  99. 99
    John Cole says:

    @Loviatar: Why don’t we do this? How about you list some issues that you think will separate true “Democrats” from closeted “Republicans,” and then make a decision based on the merits of my responses and positions, rather than just spewing random bullshit.

    I’ll start with two easy ones. I’m pro-choice (and always was) and I’m against capital punishment (and again, always was as a Republican).

    So try me. List the issue and ask me what I think about it and then judge where I fit into your little ideological scale.

  100. 100
    swordofdoom says:

    John, Like you, way back when, I was a conservative Republican as well. Grew up in a very conservative town (county went 3-1 for Goldwater in ’64), and had an extremely conservative mom (she wouldn’t remove the Goldwater yard sign before the weather caused it to finally fall apart). But my conversion came at a younger age, probably 30 years before yours.

    I think the turning point for me was watching the two big brains of the class a year ahead of me in high school. One them was a genuinely nice guy, but utterly lacking in guile (and not so good with social skills, either). If you’d ask him how he was doing, he’d reflect before answering, not realizing that you really didn’t care but were making polite small talk. He wasn’t athletic, but he played sports because he thought that’s what a well-rounded individual did, and because he was a big guy, he was put on the offensive line, where he started, playing enthusiastically, albeit clumsily. I believe he was an only child, and his father died when he was young, so he grew up in a single-parent household before that was fairly common, and his mom had a fairly rough time financially.

    I knew the other big brain better — he lived about a block away and we’d use the same school-bus stop — and I never could stand the guy. Even in junior high, he was an officious, overbearing, egotistical pos, as well as a spoiled fatass whose parents (who were by no means rich but were comfortably upper-middle-class, unlike the other guy’s mom) never made him mow the lawn or do any of those other miserable childhood chores that help develop character. And he was a pervert. The neighbors behind us (our best friends in the neighborhood) had three cute daughters, and one day they caught him window-peeping. The neighbors didn’t call the cops (and I don’t think told anybody else besides us), but they did talk to fatass big brain’s parents and told them the next time they caught him in their yard, they would be calling the police. That warning apparently didn’t stop the behavior, it just made fatass big brain more careful about how he went about it.

    So when these two guys were seniors in high school, who do you think won all the scholarships from the American Legion and their ilk for writing essays extolling the virtues of hard work and the American way? Every time I’d hear the PA announcement that he’d won another of those things, I’d feel queasy, knowing better than most just what a sick, lying asshole he truly was. And that got me to questioning everything I’d accepted about how things work. And although it didn’t turn me into a Democrat straight away — in my first presidential election, I’d concluded that Nixon was a crook, but I thought McGovern was a boob, so I didn’t mark that portion of my ballot — by 1976 I was doing campaign work for Mo Udall, and I’ve pretty much voted for nothing but Democrats since (although I’ll even vote for Libertarians in local races in which the Democrats don’t field a candidate just to pick somebody who’s not a Republican).

    We all take different paths, Cole, but the main thing is reaching the destination. And although having your illusions shattered is never pleasant, the sooner they are, the better you’re equipped to deal with the world as it is, not as you’d like it to be.

  101. 101
    bogdan says:

    @LT: But then you have to deal with a bunch of shit.

  102. 102
    slag says:

    @BGinCHI: I’d rather he write a book. I’m with srv in that we need to study him more. If Cole really dug in and wrote some honest, non-revisionist long-form on the topic, I think it’d be useful.

  103. 103
  104. 104
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Clime Acts:
    A pedobear costume?

    By the way, since I’ve got your attention, why was Mnem’s analogy inaccurate?

  105. 105
    David Koch says:

    some of you might not know this, but Elizabeth Warren used to be a republican.

    She was a republican until the mid 90s. She voted for Nixon, voted for Reagan twice; etc.

    Does anyone care that she used to be a republican?

    Does anyone want or need an explanation as to why she could vote for a 69 year old B-movie actor with orange hair?

    I don’t think so. So picking Cole’s brain for an answer for similar behavior is just as pointless.

  106. 106
    BrianM says:

    The post hit home with me, too, John. I was Republican since I first started thinking about politics about ’68 (when I was 12 and believed Nixon would fix what LBJ screwed up in Vietnam); debated the pro-Nixon side in ’72 and still managed to survive high school; pretty much ignored Watergate; voted Ford, Reagan and Reagan. Democrats seemed holier than thou and doctrinaire to me, then. (Little did I know, right?) My Schiavo moments were, first, Bush’s Dan Quayle selection, which did not compute in my smart, brave, Republican soul, and then the Willie Horton ad, which I thought was the most cynical piece of race-baiting and dog whistling I had ever seen and heard. I lived in Texas, and heard the whistle loud and clear. So I voted Dukakis, which in Texas was a throw-away. And by the end of Bush the elder’s term, I was totally converted. Nominating Clarence Thomas (because he didn’t have the guts to pick a white guy for Thurgood Marshall’s seat)? Getting cozy with Saddam, supplying him with all sorts of crap to kill Iranians and protecting his shipping? Shooting down a planeload of civilian Iranians while doing that? And then turning Saddam into Hitler II when he invaded Kuwait, which is not citadel of democracy or Western virtue? And then encouraging the Shiites to rebel and do nothing when Saddam slaughtered them in the marshes? I think after his son’s rein of terror and error, people forget how terrible the father was, and how much death and destruction he caused, just because he wanted to wear the presidential seal on his jacket.

  107. 107
    slag says:

    @David Koch: Actually, I do. And think her explanation of her evolution would be equally valuable. I’m always curious about what makes people change their minds. DougJ lays it all on fear and humiliation. I’m skeptical about that premise.

  108. 108
    samara morgan says:

    You should read the Republican Brain, Cole. It was an epiphany for me.

    You were raised republican. That is symbolic and behavioral inheritance.
    and you are are still somewhat conservative…..American “interests” in Libya, amirite?
    lol, do you know what turned Charles? Expelled. Creationism. Science.
    you turned on schiavo.
    I’m ashamed that it took me to Palin to turn.

  109. 109
    LT says:

    @David Koch: It’s not pointless. I really would like to learn anything I could about what might be the tipping point for people I know and love, including several family members, who are where John was. It’s clearly not because they’ve thought through things. Like john said it’s tribalism, and it’s reactionary too. It is as plain as day that resent is a major part of the fuel of the Modern Republican movement. It is so sad and stupid.

  110. 110
    David Koch says:


    Smoking gun emerges of Bush committing an impeachable act while in office.


  111. 111
    Mark H says:

    @slag: Popularizer. It’s an extremely easy trick for them to learn. Still, it’s an impressive feat for an animal that’s related to a clam.

  112. 112
    samara morgan says:

    @slag: i was a hereditary republican. guns, dogs and pony club.
    Palin turned me.
    praps she turned Warren as well.

  113. 113
    samara morgan says:

    @John Cole: read The Republican Brain.
    it all will be made clear.

  114. 114
    LT says:

    Side note: This writer is a fucking jackass idiot patronizing fuck.

  115. 115
    slag says:

    @Mark H: Cool. Can you teach Rosie how to do origami next?

  116. 116
    slag says:

    @samara morgan: If this article is any representation: http://motherjones.com/politic.....nce-denial? it doesn’t appear that the book applies to Cole or Warren so well.

  117. 117
    David Koch says:

    @LT: a fucking jackass idiot patronizing fuck writing for HuffPo? Surely you jest. Arianna runs a nothing but a class operation (or is it plantation). I mean, next you’ll accuse her of being a beard to a rich oil guy with political aspirations, just for money.

  118. 118
    calliope jane says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: You were in the fourth grade in 2000?! Damn. /feels old

    Anyway, @John Cole

    But again, I will never know why it took so long.

    You did beat by grandfather — he was a lifelong Republican and only registered as a Democrat in 2006 at age 85! His final straw was how Republicans were/are destroying education. Now he happily goes around telling everyone how Reagan raised taxes, etc. :D

    I don’t have a convert story. I was lucky to have parents who were very proud of the fact that they never voted for Nixon or Reagan. My dad (military yet very much a Dem) encouraged me to watch the news with him. I was in first or second grade when I heard about one of the apparently many Repub pushes to outlaw abortion yet simultaneously gut funding for orphanages, funding for poor families, education, etc. and I thought, what on earth do they expect people to do? And I realized that they actually didn’t care about actual people and coming up with all the slogans in the world won’t fix that. The whole Sorkin “How can you stand people who claim to love America but clearly can’t stand Americans” really fits.

  119. 119
    samara morgan says:

    @slag: that MJ article is one chapter only.
    there are four parts to inheritance: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and symbolic.
    i do not know about Warrens parents but Coles parents and mine are conservatives.
    Cole has spoken before of his fathers conservative tendency.
    Cole overcame his memetic upbringing– his behavioral and symbolic inheritance.

  120. 120
    LT says:

    @David Koch: I don’t get things like Arrianna hate. It seems to be hiding something. HuffPo has banal idiocy a lot, but they also have Dan Froomkin, who wrote this yesterday.

  121. 121
    Bnut says:

    I’ve never been a conservative or a Republican. I was raised by a single father who likes to tell people he’s the only person in America who didn’t vote for Reagan either time (he’s being snarky obviously). Secular Jewish upbringing dominated by powerful independent women. But for the longest time I felt like I could be a Republican. As a child of 9/11(I was a high school senior at the time), I was sucked into the whole patriotic mindset, but never bothered to tread into other political waters besides the military aspect. Once I joined the Marine Corps and had seen war, it only clarified what I suppose was the message my grandfather (a wounded WW2 vet) told me when I ran into the living room at 8 years old and told him that we had “Won the Gulf War!”. He looked me in the eye and told me that “Nobody wins war.” Fuck the GOP. It’s my fault I have a leg full of metal and friends I’ll never see again, I signed the papers, but it’s their fault for being the kind of assholes who make kids think that dying for their shits and giggles is ok.

  122. 122
    slag says:

    @samara morgan: Yeah. So did I. So did a lot of people. That doesn’t explain why or how. It just explains what.

  123. 123
    cokane says:


    i have to say this graem frost post, is just one of the best personal/blogger posts one could ever read. just a solid lesson in that, regardless of your stance on ideology, one just has to admit the far right in the nation is morally bankrupt

  124. 124
    Emerald says:

    @Mark H: Mark H!! So glad to see you here. You are sorely missed in the orange place.

    Not that I’m there much either, except for pooties.

    But I sure do miss your sea life diaries. They were one of the highlights of the GOS.

    Also too, we never did get your diary on the poor striped minnows.

  125. 125
    John Cole says:

    @cokane: I remember writing that and just thinking what the hell has gone wrong with Republicans?

  126. 126
    Katie says:

    I’ve always tended to vote republican for national office and democrat for local/state office. I think the first time I didn’t vote for the republican for president was in 2000. Just couldn’t stomach Bush II and his merry band of thieves.

    My general views, fiscally conservative and socially liberal haven’t changed at all over the years–or at least they haven’t as far as I can tell. What HAS changed is the center. As the line has moved to the right I’ve gone from being pretty much in the center to pretty far to the left, which is amusing to me.

    My parents, who have been staunch republicans (although not the crazy religious kind) their entire lives registered as democrats a few weeks ago. They are 78 and 81. That’s a long time to be republican and get fed up enough to change parties. If the republican party can alienate people like my folks they really are doing something wrong.

    I also remember the early early days of BJ, even though I’m a hardly ever commenter. What I loved about this blog was the fact that while John was republican, he wasn’t *quite* bat shit crazy about it and he didn’t ban people that disagreed with him. The comments on this blog were the best out there in the early 2000’s with all the wild freewheeling disagreements. It was interesting watching the conversion from conservative to human :)

  127. 127
    slag says:


    My bad- they don’t have any advice other than “SUCKS TO BE YOU” or “SELL YOUR HOUSE” or “GET ANOTHER JOB.” Because, as we all know, the hallmark of responsibility is making your children homeless so they can maybe get healthcare. Nobody even pointed to the numerous charities that we conservatives are supposed to expect to fill the gap so the government doesn’t have to pay for things.

    Yeah. This pretty much nails it. Republicanism is not for the solution-oriented. I think that’s what I so dislike about the ideology. That and it fails my sense of duty test.

  128. 128
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    we watched (and still are) the Nova special on the elements, which is pretty fascinating even though the host makes me want to throttle him with his cutesy mannerisms.

    The Nova episode was very interesting, despite that twit David Pogue, who seemed determined to get in the way as much as possible, with some of the worsts attempts at humor ever. Apparently, he writes for the New York Times.

    ETA: Speaking of PBS tonight, the episode of Nature that was on before Nova, about the “Rise of the Dogs”, was really great.

  129. 129
    Clime Acts says:

    @A Humble Lurker:

    Your attempts to engage are not in earnest. You’re a blind fanatic with a closed mind so I’ll be wasting none of my time with you.

    Now back under your rock, dear.

  130. 130
    cokane says:

    also i want to add on to my previous post a little bit

    i read a couple of other former righty/bushy blogs such as LGF and Sullivan regularly. I definitely have the most respect for you and your thoughts on politics. You seem to get that ideology is secondary to the tangible results of policy.

    Sullivan still seems kidnapped by a juvenile and egotistical understanding of politics. It blinds him so much that he, for example, sees Michael Moore and Hugh Hewitt as somehow equally reprehensible.

    Charles Johnson is a little more respectable. But even he cannot bring himself to admit his own faults and post-9/11 blindness. For him, it’s the other anti-jihadi bloggers who changed, and his own blog was never a haven for the kind of vitriol and meanness that you dissect so well in that Frost post. Unfortunately, his blog was a lair for that. He’s also far too caught up in his internet flamewars.

    So yeah, you don’t take your online persona or your political ideology too seriously. Ideology doesnt matter too much in the end. It’s the results.

  131. 131
    Loviatar says:

    @John Cole:

    First lets define “true Democrats from closeted Republicans pragmatic Democrat”.

    – Democrat: willing to take the political hit for core principles

    – pragmatic Democrat: willingly trades core principles for political opportunism


    Some core Democratic principles and my suggestions

    Finance/taxes: level the playing field; there is no free market, government is not just needed it is required.
    – Immediate implementation of Clinton era tax rate or cutback on Republican priorities. (war, oil subsidies, etc) why are pragmatic Democrats always wanting to put entitlements on the chopping block first
    – Close loopholes you control, investigate and prosecute offshore tax shelters. (things the administration can do without congressional approval) Start with Apple for illegally sheltering their profits overseas, make them bring it home
    – Immediate investigation of all financial players who caused the great recession
    – stand up for labor, not with words but with actions; protect their pensions and benefits. They are being stripped away with the thought that they should suffer for the actions of wall street.
    now the hard part do these even though you may lose your financial sugar daddies. fuck pragmatism take a stand.


    Foreign Policy: American values first
    – Stop torturing. fuck Congress, close Guantanamo Bay, find a way. get it done even if it cause a Constitutional crisis. It is a stain on our country and its the most embarrassing thing Obama has done. This is pragmatic bullshit.
    – Distance ourselves from Israel, make it clear that their actions in the middle east are the result of their foreign policy. They are not our proxy.
    – Apologize for the 1953 coup and begin negotiations with Iran on their nuclear ambitions
    now the hard part do these even though you may be called anti-Semitic. fuck pragmatism take a stand for American values.


    Entitlements: take care of all your citizens, fuck the job creators.
    – Propose single payer and this time actually fight for it. In the mean time use all feasible government programs (medicare, medicad, CHIP, VA, etc.) to fund healthcare for all – find a way to cover everyone. Take the subsidy money from dirty technology (oil, coal, etc.) to pay for it, then challenge the Republicans to take it away, it they do start with medicare’s money (hurt their base)


    Lyndon B. Johnson knew knew the cost that passing the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights acts would have on his party, but he also knew that passing them would make us a better country. Thats the difference between a Democrat and a pragmatic Democrat.

  132. 132
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    Remember, folks, Clime Acts used to be known as Kola Noscopy, and, during the threads last year about Jerry Sandusky’s raping of various children in the Penn State locker room, suggested that the victims may have enjoyed it.

  133. 133
    VividBlueDotty says:

    @John Cole
    Funny that you say

    I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it.

    My best friend who has always been a liberal said something to me a few years ago that will stick with me forever. She said, “I wasn’t always a straight ticket voter, but now I am, because I am a one-issue voter. That issue is DECENCY.”

    Decency and humanity is sadly lacking in today’s Republican party.

  134. 134
    slag says:

    @Loviatar: First lets define “true Democrats useless Democrats from closeted Republicans pragmatic Democrat “people who want to get Democratic shit done”. OK. Let’s do that. Which means you’re probably in the first category. Not solution-oriented. AKA Closeted Republican.

  135. 135
    Loviatar says:


    @Loviatar: First lets define “true Democrats useless Democrats from closeted Republicans pragmatic Democrat “people who want to get Democratic shit done”. OK. Let’s do that. Which means you’re probably in the first category. Not solution-oriented. AKA Closeted Republican.

    I’ll point you to my secondary definition of a pragmatic Democrat. Thank you for being the example that proves the definition.

    pragmatic Democrat; all bluster and shout, ready to attack and name call his allies and then cave on his principles all in name of pragmatism and political reality – torture and single payer as examples.

  136. 136
    slag says:

    @Loviatar: Your ironic use of the word “allies” is very telling. Especially since you’re the one picking fights here. I would call you a dumbass but you would interpret that as name-calling. While I would interpret that as taxonomizing.

  137. 137
    Dylan says:


    Just curious, when you say “punch in the neck” are you supposed to punch directly from the front, or roundhouse into the side? What’s more effective?

  138. 138
    Loviatar says:


    thanks for my word of the day

  139. 139
    DemocratCaliCat says:

    Oh, fucking stop. I’m sick of hearing Democrats slander other Democrats. Just because Democrats don’t act or behave like cowardly bitch Republicans doesn’t make them pussies. It’s easy to “act all tough” when you’re in a gang and don’t care about anything or anyone but yourself. It’s a lot more difficult to fight for the weak in society than it is to stand there, arms folded, shaking your head no. That’s why it takes a lot more guts to be a Democrat than to be a Republican. All the Republicans do is hate. That doesn’t take much strength. Republicans are like a group of neighborhood thugs – when they’re together they act all big and bad but get one of them alone and watch him cry for his mommy.

    And since you’re now a Democrat, try showing a little self-respect and stop perpetuating negative stereotypes about Democrats.

  140. 140
    Batocchio says:

    Once again, I appreciate you saying this stuff. I also wouldn’t beat yourself too much over it; as I’ve said before, I consider your mea culpa on the Iraq War the gold standard, and I wish the professional punditry was even half as honest.

    I first starting reading Balloon Juice back in 2007 during the sliming of Graeme Frost, which remains a pivotal event in my eyes – the rage, spite and insanity of the right-wing was disturbing and a new low, and many in the media (especially Howard Kurtz) were afraid to call them on it. I did a long roundup of posts on it all, including several BJ pieces, such as “The Nut of It”:

    I simply can not believe this is what the Republican party has become. I just can’t. It just makes me sick to think all those years of supporting this party, and this is what it has become. Even if you don’t like the S-Chip expansion, it is hard to deny what Republicans are- a bunch of bitter, nasty, petty, snarling, sneering, vicious thugs, peering through people’s windows so they can make fun of their misfortune.

    Good stuff. (And good night.)

  141. 141
    Mark van Roojen says:

    FWIW, even before the break, I came over here and read you a bit. And there were many lonely days before most people seemed to hit their the emperor has no clothes moment with the Bush administration. There were glimmers of light over here.

  142. 142
    H.E. Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    I didn’t know of your blog before your conversion, if you will, but I wish I had. I’m just glad I know of it now, because it’s such a staple. I like your writing a lot, and your front-pagers are all top-notch. If you’re ever in the SF Bay Area, feel free to drop by. Lots of cats and dogs at this house!

  143. 143
    moderateindy says:

    My moniker suggests I am a centrist, and 15 years ago I probably was. I’m still an Independent, just Because aligning one’s self with a party simply leads to the type of tribalism that hurts critical thinking. Plus, living in Chicago or it’s burbs for the lion’s share of my life makes it really difficult to believe in Democrats. I am still a moderate, as far as temperament goes, but not in political positions. I was always fairly liberal socially, though with a pragmatic bent, which still exists today. But fiscally I leaned slightly right. Currently I would like to see this country move towards the dreaded European socialism. What has changed over the last 30 years is the evidence. Thirty years of right wing fiscal, economic, monetary, and trade policy has been complete and total disaster, according to every metric, except for the very top of citizens, and of course large corporations. And the trend and evidence was fairly clear by the time Clinton took office. Although they still had me duped on the Free Trade garbage. It made sense to me that creating jobs in Mexico, that were decent paying, was good for everyone in the long run. They get a middle class, which helps their economy, and while hurting our workers a bit in the short term, it actually strengthens our economy in the long run. Of course now I wonder how I could have been stupid enough to believe that corporations would actually create jobs in Mexico that wouldn’t be anywhere as nice as the jobs they took from the U.S. but would still pay enough for the Mexican people to slowly build a middle class of their own. Even worse those same corporations didn’t even want to spend what little they were on a Mexican workforce, and shifted those jobs to China where they could pay less for labor and have basically no rules to follow. It seems so obvious now that I can’t believe I ever supported NAFTA and “free trade”.
    So, now between analysis of the results of right wing policies, and the fact that the right wing has shifted so dramatically to the right over the years(that even if I kept my same fiscal ideology I’d be considered way left) I am now a flaming liberal. I am still pragmatic and try to be moderate in temperament but today’s Republican part is just nuckin futs and careening even faster towards spaghetti monster knows what, that I can’t see any scenario where I would vote for a Republican for Federal office.

  144. 144
    Schlemizel says:

    I made it 18 minutes into that NOVA & couldn’t take any more. Not only was it mostly content free (how many times did they tell us the exact same info on how much ore it took to make an oz of gold? 4 or 5?) but I would have broken my TV if I had to watch that ass lay one more warn turd he thought was funny.

  145. 145
    sherparick says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: I still think the Heinlein before his second marriage is mind-blowing. The Heinlein who was a “New Deal” Liberal. The Heinlein post-second marriage is still an good story teller and I just ignored the politics.

    I like reading David Pogue’s columns in the Times on technology, but gee, he needs a better editor and some practice as a narrator. The shows became better TV when it got to the “reactive elements” and actually taught me stuff (or at least caused me to recall stuff about atomic weight and electrons and their shells) about the Periodic Table and what a marvelous piece of science that Mendeleev came up with, particularly predicting unknown elements and their properties, which when discovered proved the reality of the theory behind the Periodic Table. A classic Popperian science (as opposed to Economics, where theories are never disprovable and data not consisten with them is ignored.

  146. 146
    Trurl says:

    Oh, Mr. Cole… you’re still a tribalist who defers to authority. You just began toadying for a different Leader, that’s all.

    But I maintain hope for you. Someday you may realize that it’s not OK to execute American citizens without trial, massacre Muslim children, and launch wars of regime change even when the President is a Democrat.

    Then you’ll have another mea culpa post to write.

  147. 147
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “Even for someone who voted for Bush twice”


    Glad to have you on the good side. You sound like Charles Johnson from Little Green Footballs, who also was a Righty and switched over from the dark side. Ditto Andrew Sullivan.

  148. 148

    […] John Cole has a long and thoughtful post about why he switched from being a wingnut to being a sane person. As he explains why he used to support the Bush Administration, key part to me is “I believed it. I identified with it. It was part of who I was for years. It was my deference to authoritarianism after years in the military. It was tribalism.” […]

  149. 149
    HyperIon says:

    I hate Pogue.
    He ruins all that he touches…..

  150. 150
    Emma says:

    @Lavocat: And this is probably why they don’t fight they way you want them to. Republicans end up lining up behind their leaders, no matter what. Democrats throw dirt at theirs, and then wonder why their words are used against them. Democratic politicians spend a lot of time fighting in two directions.

    Mind you, it’s been this way since the beginning of time. Remember “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a democrat?”

  151. 151
    Trinity says:

    John, this is a great post and exemplifies why I appreciate your blog. Nevertheless, enough with this self evolution chatter.

    Need Moar Tunch.


  152. 152
    redshirt says:

    Ha. Glad to find some Pogue haters. Never heard of him before I subscribed to Scientific American. He’s got a column, and I’ve found it simultaneously condescending and simple. Not a good combination! I’ve tried patience, but now I shall give that up and skim/skip his column from now on.

  153. 153
    HyperIon says:

    I blame republican camp for Cole’s long night of right wing allegiance. When he revealed that bit of his history, I understood better. The brain-washing started early.

  154. 154
    the fugitive uterus says:

    at least you came to your senses. how anybody with 2 brain cells to rub together can still support the republican party, at this point, i have no idea.

  155. 155
    jwest says:

    The entire thread was an interesting read.

    It’s enlightening to hear how people have switched parties and what events were pivotal in their decision. Since most people change from democrats to republicans as they mature and gain exposure to the realities of life, this was a rare look into the other side.

    Although some reasoning seems logical, there does appear to be a good deal of stereotyping, naïve assumptions and misinformed versions of history that drive the “I switch because of…” narratives. Conservatives have always struggled with the problem of how to help people who are easily misled to look at the facts and think for themselves. It appears we have a lot more work to do.

  156. 156
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    I did the same switch around the same time. For me it was Katrina and warrantless wiretapping.

  157. 157
    TG Chicago says:

    Regarding the paragraph about Democrats being unwilling to stand for anything, I completely agree. But I think John didn’t fully connect the dots.

    Democrats did actually manage to stand their ground on the recent contraception fight. They forcefully fought back. And what happened? They’re winning over women voters.

    SEE HOW THAT WORKS??? You stand for something that’s right, and it can be a political winner as well as a moral one.

    So many voters are low-information; they don’t really pay attention. But they can see one side being firm and the other side hemming and hawing and quivering. If you’re the side that’s holding firm, you win people over. This isn’t complicated, but somehow Democrats can’t figure it out. Hopefully this contraception fight will turn on some lightbulbs.

  158. 158
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    On the other hand I don’t agree with the Democrats are spineless thing. I can’t think of a single member of the Democratic caucus in either house who doesn’t have a spine of solid adamantium. It’s just 30% or so of those spines are more interested in lobbying jobs than say achieving policy goals or oh I don’t know “winning elections.”

    Democrats aren’t unified, sure. But spineless, no way. Well, maybe Ron Wyden or something.

  159. 159
    noodler says:

    Thanks John. I resemble that remark.

  160. 160
    bemused says:

    A relative who has heavily leaned Republican for most of her 70 something years for the sole reason that she wants to keep as much of her money as possible is sounding disgusted with Republicans lately. I think the most outrageous, nasty craziness of the GOP has seeped into her largely issue unaware consciousness. She told me of a friend, a guy probably in his 50’s who told her he has always voted Republican but won’t now because at least Obama has a heart.

  161. 161
    Splitting Image says:

    Terrific post John, and thanks to cokane for linking to your post on the Frost family. I remember reading that post back then and nodding my head a lot.

    Not everyone is capable of this kind of self-reflection. Your pets are lucky to have you.

  162. 162
    horse dave says:

    @Justin Morton: I also switched due to W’s Iraq war lies. I saw no justification but trusted that they must have some secret information. Still mad …

    Prior to that I had been politically agnostic but leaned towards the “conservative” blather. I was your typical low-information voter. Also like JC I couldn’t stand the way Dems appeared weak.

    Now I’m a proud DFH. I’ve been wearing my hoodie to work for a month. I’ve donated and worked to get my congress-critter Donna Edwards elected (yea!). I’ve worked to get marriage equality and offshore wind power here in Maryland. I really like my liberal state representatives. I know that I am lucky to live in a liberal bubble.

    My neighbor said it best: “Republican’s are sociopaths.”

  163. 163
    Mark H says:

    @Emerald: Hey, there. I’m planning on picking that series back up. I just haven’t had the time the last year or so.

  164. 164
    Nick says:

    What you wrote about about dems being wimps made me think of Digby and her writings on tribal and authoritarian thinking.

    Makes me think that people are much more attracted to the “manly” stereotype than any real political issue. We can talk ’til we’re blue in the face about rights, numbers, logic, etc. But, if at the end of the day we aren’t “manly”, it’s a lost cause for oh-so-many people.

    So, how do we make being liberal manly?

    Well, ya, obvious. We stand up and fight.

  165. 165
    samara morgan says:

    @slag: well, i recommend reading the book.
    One why is that fMRI studies show morphological and functional differences between liberal and conservative brains. Conservatives have more grey matter in the amygdala (the seat of emotion) and liberals have more grey matter in the ACC (the seat of reason).
    given that stuff like Vipassana meditation can increase grey matter in the brain….i wonder if Cole, you, and i all increased grey matter in the ACC during the time of our conversion?
    did it take a long period of time for your conversion?

  166. 166
    samara morgan says:

    @Joe Bohemouth: liberals and democrats aren’t spineless, they are just incredulous that reason, logic, and scientific fact do not work to persuade republicans.
    that is why people like Cole frontpage libertarian snakeweasels like Balko, de Bore, and Kain.
    He is desperately seeking a conservative with enlightenment values instead of tribal free market “freedumb” white plastic jeebus ideology.
    2/3s of conservatives still believe Obama is a muslim and 96% of scientists are NOT-republican.
    Why do you think that is?

  167. 167
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Clime Acts:
    Oh, so you don’t have an answer for me, then? You said you did, and that you would tell me. Are you going back on that? Are you saying that Mnem’s analogy WAS apt? Because you certainly haven’t provided any reason why it wasn’t.

    So, that means if you saw your own daughter getting molested by someone, you wouldn’t jump in right away because that could traumatize her in case she was enjoying it? Just like how you said if you saw a young male student getting molested at school you wouldn’t step in because he might be enjoying being raped by a grown up?

    All I want is for you to clear up my confusion. Like you said you would.

  168. 168


    That’s your Democratic party. Gutless empty liars who don’t relaly give a shit about anything but their paychecks.

    Can’t argue with it. The problem is the Republicans are a bunch of nihilistic psychopaths who double, triple, and quadruple down on the aforementioned behavior. And it can all be demonstrated by their _own words_, in context.

    When the greater of two evils is a direct threat to your well-being, you’ll be surprised how quickly moral relativism comes in.

  169. 169
    Jacquie says:

    I did watch that Hunting the Elements thing, and I discovered a trick to make David Pogue semi-tolerable. The trick, see, is to drink every time he says or does anything eye-rollingly stupid. Less than two hours and I got wobbly drunk.

  170. 170
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @Tim in SF:

    The etymology of “pussy” in that sense does not come from the pussy=vagina, it comes from a shortened form of “pussy-footing”:

    That’s just bollocks-handing.

  171. 171
    Original Lee says:

    My story is similar to John’s, except I am still a registered Republican. Terri Schiavo really opened my eyes, and I’ve been a RINO ever since. I have not changed my party affiliation, though, because I am an election judge for my precinct, and the one time post-Schiavo that I was unable to represent the GOP at the polls, my substitute allowed all sorts of unsavory shenanigans by the reps for the GOP candidates (such as allowing the reps to hand out pamphlets to people after they had signed in but before they got into the voting booth). I’ve always been a moderate, and have until recently lived in areas with limited news media options, but once I reached a point where it dawned on me how much spin everything had on it, I started not taking everything on trust and started following the money. The Internet has made it easier to do so, of course.

    Thanks, John, for hosting this blog – it’s been an essential environmental pressure on my evolution.

  172. 172

    […] Cole posted this: A couple of you are wondering what made me switch parties in the other thread. It was a lot of […]

  173. 173
    slag says:


    So, how do we make being liberal manly?

    I don’t think manly is the right word. But I think our position of strength comes from the fact that we are actively seeking solutions to real problems. Simply complaining about culture or single-parent families or granite counter tops is not a solution–no matter what the Republican books say.

  174. 174
    pk says:

    But eventually, if you have two remaining brain cells bouncing around your thick noggin, the amount of evidence becomes unavoidable and undeniable.

    Most republicans don’t seem to even have the two required brain cells.

    I consider myself a democrat by default. I came to this country and had no idea who the democrats or republicans or congress or anything was politically. I don’t think I even knew which party the president belonged to (George Bush the first). I supported Clarence Thomas during the hearings because my reasoning was if the guy was so objectionable why was she following him around from place to place. It was only during the Clinton fiasco which was everywhere, that I started paying attention and it took me around a yr to realize how idiotic, unprincipled, obnoxious and hateful republican polititions are. They will say one thing one day and and the exact opposite a few months later, they believe in nothing other than lowering taxes, lecture everyone on morality and apply none of it to their lives. For me the real turning point was the Elian Gonzalez case. They totally supported taking away a child from his father in the name of freedom. To an outsider you look at republicans and you see all that is primitive and unscientific and uncivilized. It took me a while to realize that they may wear suits, but actually are quite similar to the bearded, bullshitting Mullahs the world over.

  175. 175
    Aaron Baker says:

    I’m a recovering conservative too, and your story has always resonated with me. I’ve been struck as well by the sheer mean-spiritedness of so much that the Right does and says (comparing welfare recipients to animals, compulsory ultrasounds, the sliming of children living or dead–there just seems to be no bottom to the cesspool). I hear my rightwing father echoing a lot of this crap, and it’s getting to the point where I just can’t discuss politics with him any longer.

    All I can do now is to encourage you to persevere–I’ve discovered that as a newly-minted lefty, I no longer need to make excuses that dissatisfy even me. That’s a real improvement in the quality of one’s life.

  176. 176
    Nick says:


    Unfortunately, that’s my point. I’d much rather be concerned with real solutions to real problems and not to use ridiculous stereotypical ideas of “manliness”.

    But I used that word because I think we may be fighting the wrong fight. Sure, we get the solutions but let’s sell ourselves as the manly side — not how we see what “manly” is but how they see it. It’s their votes and support we need.

    In other words, we need to speak conservatives’ language. If they respect authoritarian ass-kicking (and call it being manly), let’s give them that. And, while we’re at it, finally do some good in the world because our ideas _are_ better.

  177. 177
    Tom says:

    It’s less of a switch and more of being true to who you are — you have the strength to be anchored while a rightward tide moves all (unanchored) boats.

    I voted for John Anderson and Perot and now I’m a DFH, so I’m hoping the same is true for me

  178. 178
    The Raven says:

    @Nick: “So, how do we make being liberal manly?”

    Think about the tough union men that were the strength of the party, until the Dems gave it all away to a man who could play the part of manliness. The Dems were once the party of the working man.

  179. 179
    The Raven says:

    John, thanks. I appreciate the account. As for why the Democrats are weak…they threw out their left wing in the 1950s, because they were afraid of being labeled communist. Afterwards, they had a few great leaders, but the ideological strength of the party was gone, and now they’re taking over the Republican mushy-conservative spot.

  180. 180

    […] send this column to them.  If you have friends or family or acquaintances who might be able to make the same leap John managed, pass it on to them too.  Pressure is a daily accumulation of little taps and nudges, and there is […]

  181. 181
    tomato_freak says:

    @John Cole: Sounds like you were a closeted Democrat all along. Surprised they didn’t banish you based on those two positions alone…

  182. 182

    Better late than never, sanity welcomes you back with open arms.

  183. 183
    Philip Goldfarb says:

    Good for you. Honesty like this is hard. I hope that if I ever have to switch parties I can be as honest with myself as you are being.

  184. 184
    Ray F says:

    Anyone who is willing to think must be willing to change their opinions. And anyone who is willing to change their opinions must be willing to admit that they were wrong.

    Because of time and emotional investments, it can be very difficult to make that admission, but it is usually cathartic.

    And as it gets easier, you become less wedded to dogma.

  185. 185

    Bravo. That took real courage to post this, and I admire you for doing it.

    Pat Buchanan drove my mother out of the Republican party in 1992 when he laid into Hilary Clinton. She suddenly realized I was the same independent, career minded woman, and nobody went after her daughter like that!

    And as for the Dems — Yeah, we’re wimpy, but we’re always welcoming. :) So welcome. Grab some salsa and a margarita, and we’ll talk.

  186. 186
    John says:

    The tipping point for me with the Bush people was Harriet Meyers. There’s just so much excusing you can do before you start to realize that there’s just nothing defensible left. Even then, my dislike of Bush didn’t translate into a dislike of the GOP per se until they tried to run Sarah Palin.

    I think you’ve summarized my own feelings pretty perfectly in this post. At some point the deliberate bullshit piles up so high that you can’t keep ignoring it or hoping it will go away.

  187. 187
    LarryC says:

    As another apostate, let me welcome you to the reality-based coalition of pussies.

    I went through college at the height of the 80s culture wars with a copy of Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind under my arm and a William F. Buckley watch (that I made myself) on my arm. I started a conservative newspaper (we lasted four issues), sponsored anti-abortion speakers, loved Reagan and PJ O’Rourke.

    My breaking point was the first Bush administration. His reign was such an epic disaster it is hard to remember the promise–“compassionate conservatism” and a lack of interest in foreign policy. It turned so quickly into imperial overreach, torture, deficits, cynicism, and so many god damned deaths.

    Once the blinders fell away I started reassessing everything and the world made a lot more sense–thought the Republican Party made a lot less.

    That the Republican Party went even further right after W is so horrifying and psychotic.

  188. 188
    oddjob says:

    I got off the GOP’s bandwagon in ’92. I was just then finally at age 32 and many, many dark nights of the soul coming out – to myself – and then to hear that vile spew from Pat Buchanan…..

    I’m not a Democrat, but it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for another Republican for national office.

    I’ve never for a moment regretted leaving that fevered swamp of insanity that calls itself the Grand Old Party.

  189. 189
    cmh says:

    John I remember your trajectory right out of the republican party as it coincided with mine. I read you a lot back then but don’t read political blogs as much any longer. Terry Schiavo was pretty much the breaking point for me and the Federal Marriage Amendment though I still voted for Bush a second time as I was really loathe to change presidents in the middle of a war (even if I was having issues with the way the war being run). There are some things I look back on and realize I was wrong about due mostly to not having seen it at work in a real world scenarios such as deregulation of certain industries. There are other things I had seen for a long while and disliked immensely like the Patrick Buchanan types which remind me of world where the Handmaids Tale is a possibility. I had hoped the base wouldn’t get the better of the party. But they did. And I who had been a republican from California for almost 20 years now despises everything this party has become.

  190. 190
    Amy Richards says:

    Welcome aboard! Glad to have you, especially as someone who once thought in a different way.

    Still, gotta call you out on your use of the word “pussy” . There are so many words available! Why men, most of whom who will do anything to get to be in close proximity of an actual pussy, reserve this word to use as a perjorative, is really beyond me. Those of us in possession of pussies think you could do better.

  191. 191
    Jason says:

    John, you sound like most Democratic voters I know, myself included. We’re not really “proud” to be Democrats, not like so many Republicans seem to be. We don’t necessarily think that most leading Democratic pols are all that good of people. We assume they’re fairly callow, dishonest, and self-serving, just like every politician of the last thousand years. But geezus, they’re at least dealing in reality! They’re not religious nuts! And they don’t consider ignorance, cruelty, and greed as something to be proud of! I mean, just look at the other side. Republicans are either:

    A. Stupid
    B. Evil
    C. Psycho
    D. All of the above.

  192. 192
    maven says:


    John’s becoming a mystic.

    John-kiss Andrew.

    the harmonic/blog Convergence.


  193. 193
    wildthumb says:

    You got balls, man. But eating crow at a certain point
    is necessary and oh so growthful.

    (But just a side note: I think that we men hang on to our
    righteous beliefs just a tad longer than a woman might. It amounts to a gender need.)

  194. 194
    CraiginKC says:

    This was a refreshing and compelling post. The comments about Democratic spinelessness really resonated with me. I’ve been voting Democratic for 25 years, but when asked, I’ve always said I’m not a Democrat, just violently anti-Republican. The truth is, I’ve always felt that a respect for the preservation of the social fabric was a fundamentally conservative position, and that to pretend that the social fabric doesn’t have anything to do with a reasonable social safety-net, a living wage, the rights of labor to collective bargaining, and a transparent and egalitarian marketplace, was wrongheaded and fundamentally radical. Today’s Republican party has become a parody of itself. There’s absolutely nothing conservative about it.

    And as to why liberalism comes off as unmanly, I think it’s because Republicans have so successfully conflated manliness with being a self-absorbed dick. Ultimately, our “manliness” compass has been knocked off its North. Today’s Republican man is an insecure d-bag who needs to be told how important he is and how valuable his (white) authority is by the women in his life 24/7. While I like the comment about linking liberalism with blue-collar working men again, I think the ultimate key to transforming the image is to call a spade a spade and publicly identify the central mark of Republican manlines for what it really is: latent adolescent insecurity.

  195. 195
    vamps says:

    @Loviatar: Right, because being pragmatic and getting some stuff done is soooo much worse than being all full of bluster and ideals and getting nothing accomplished.

    And the claim that Obama is just like Bush is just ridiculous.

  196. 196
    beejeez says:

    Thought for the day after reading one more characterization of liberals as wimps:

    Often people who are still figuring things out mistake acting like a grown-up for being a wimp.

  197. 197
    Dennis says:

    Hey guys,

    first up, nice one on the best article I’ve read for some time.

    And, if we’re honest, Democrats ARE pussies. By and large, and yadda yadda, and a few qualifiers, but let’s not kid ourselves: The country also thinks we’re bigger pussies still.

    What we need is a few more Weiners (no pun intended).

  198. 198
    nitpicker says:

    What is extremely useful about this–and about your honesty, John–is that you are a reminder of how even smart people can fall for tribalism. Whenever I just know I’m right and everyone else is full of shit, I think of you (and others who’ve had similar changes of heart) and think, maybe this time I’m the blinkered one this time.

  199. 199
    Nim says:

    John, I admire your courage. You are not alone. There are lots of people in your shoes struggling to determine whether it is productive to change a party from within or change it from without. I’ve given up hope for the GOP. They are a lost cause. Maybe the Democrats will embrace the influx of disaffected moderates, and sane conservatives. Ironically, Mitt seems like the perfect candidate for today’s GOP. Opportunistic, and will lie for your vote. Doesn’t he have the faith in his philosophy to debate truthfully? I guess not. I hope Lisa Murkowski of AK would consider running for president in 2016. She’s got more guts than Mitt will ever have.

  200. 200
    high performance engine guy says:

    I was never a republican, but I definitely decided never to be one ever in a very specific moment in the summer of 1980: while catching ~5min of Reagan giving his nomination acceptance speech as I waited for a bud get ready in his apartment.

    I guess some people like me are lucky because we have better bullshit detectors than others…..Like that bullshit that dems are wimps therefore I’ll vote for the torture party. What a croc of shit.

  201. 201
    Matunos says:

    The Terry Schiavo ordeal was the last straw for me. I had always considered myself socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but web Bill Frist diagnosed someone he never met over recorded video in order to score some political points, the former finally outweighs the latter.

    Then, over the years, I discovered that the old adage about conservatices and liberals was bullshit, at least in my case. The more money I’ve made in my career, the more fiscally liberal I’ve become. Not only does money not occupy as much of my personal thoughts, but strangely I find myself wanting to live in a society in which others can prosper too, even if their parents couldn’t afford proper nutrition.

  202. 202
    David Shaffer says:

    How about all the lying and stealing the Democratic party and the Obama administration has done with regard to the GM bankruptcy and the treatment of the Delphi Salaried Retirees? Look it up. I’ll never support a Democrat again
    David Shaffer Delphi Salaried Retiree

  203. 203

    […] becomes unavoidable and undeniable. Even for someone who voted for Bush twice,” – John Cole, Republican apostate […]

  204. 204
    JCACharles says:

    @mclaren: The Rs take every single perceived weakness and tear it open – that is why, despite my horror at some of what Obama has done, I publicly completely support the things he has done that I completely support, and do not discuss this disgusting behavior. I learned my lesson in 2000: we vote for the lesser of two evils, and BHO is far, far less evil than any R out there. He has done many wonderful things; I am willing to leave it to lawyers and history to resolve those things he has done that I hate.

  205. 205
    Heron says:

    If it makes you feel any better, lots of us Dem voters want to put our heads through monitors when Dem pols capitulate too. They are, frequently, spineless, unprincipled hacks more concerned with keeping their rich backers happy than their voters, but at least they aren’t also reality-averse and dedicated to institutionalized cruelty. Seriously, we gotta figure out a way to get ourselves better politicians.

  206. 206

    […] What a Good Night By John Cole April 4th, 2012 […]

  207. 207

    […] Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » What a Good Night […]

  208. 208
    John says:

    Always happy to hear another sane, intelligent voice in the vast, left-wing conspiracy. Your homosexual indoctrination will begin shortly!

  209. 209

    […] man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party. I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the […]

  210. 210

    […] man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party. I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the […]

  211. 211
    diane says:

    I know the feeling.
    I woke up one morning over a year ago and decided to leave the Catholic Church, after 56 years.

    A new day and I could for not one minute longer be faithful to a church that has done such horrible things to young children and women.

    I just knew it was over. And I knew it should have happened years before, but I could not do it.

    I have never regretted my choice.

  212. 212
    plutosdad says:

    I’ve gone through the same thing these past 2 years. While Bush was President, I could not stand many Democrats and the crazy conspiracy theories and blatant flip flopping of positions depending on who was in charge. Now the Republicans are doing it in Congress, and watching what state assembly Republicans are doing around the country just makes me fear for our future, like we are traveling backwards in time to when science was witchcraft and women who don’t stay home should be stoned.

    I’ve also, through studying a lot more anthropology and ethics, given up on Libertarianism (and the hatemongering and selfishness by the average Libertarian sure doesn’t help). Even though I’ve been reading the Bleeding Heart Libertarian blog, many of them are too Utilitarian for me to think of as either ethical or practical.

  213. 213

    […] which now is freer without it. As point of comparison, John Cole at Balloon Juice describes his departure from the GOP, and it’s interesting what disappoints him with regard to his new party […]

  214. 214
    S BUTTON says:

    I disagree. Conservatives are the ones who believe a rising tide floats all boats. Progressives want to rule everyone else. On meat. If you don’t like red meat, don’t eat it. Fur, don’t wear it. Incondessant light bulbs, buy what you want but leave my light bulbs alone. Let me fund my own retirement. I don’t want to pay for your abortions, your contraceptions or your healthcare. If you can’t afford to feed your family, don’t have kids. I don’t want to pay for your higher education via taxes. I do not, and never will believe that the government can do much of anything better for me than I can. I pay property taxes for public education ( and it’s a huge check) and I write it with pleasure. The Feds are great at defense. I leave my roads to state and federal agencies that use fuel taxes ( BTW, the gove makes more off of fuel sales than big oil). The dems want to run every acpect of my life. Get out of the way. I’ll donate (and we write lots of checks) to those we believe are fiscally adept at doing what they do. The feds waste more money than anyone can possibly image. The beauracracies at the fed level is obscene. Get out of the way and let people succeed or fail. Life is a ride and it can be wonderful if you dive in and not wait for the government to handle you life cradle to grave.

  215. 215

    […] yet respect can be lost when trust is too &#…, which is why I hold out hope for […]

  216. 216
    La says:

    @General Stuck (on self glorifiication) says:

    I’m not convinced it is getting harder to fool enough voters to stay in power.
    It was not long ago, 2010, that the Republicans returned to power in the House. It was not so long ago, in 2004, that after no WMD in Iraq, torture at Abu Ghraib, that Bush got RE-ELECTED!

    The only thing that wakes most voters up is an itch in their pockets, their pocketbooks to be precise. It was the crash of 2008 that infuriated people and pushed Obama to victory. And it is that impatience and childish pocketbook ignorance that will bring the GOP back. Because those who want to shrink government and cut spending are the same ones that scream “but don’t cut my medicare”. With voters like these, every disaster is possible!

    Nobody is really explaining to voters that first you build a consensus on what Government should do for people, second, you figure out how much it would cost, and lastly figure out how to pay for it (and go back to first step it you can’t fund your priorities,) not the other way around like most voters would like it: tax me zero, now do all of this for me and don’t tell me how much things costs, I don’t want to hear about it, just do it!

    I’m not hopeful. We’ll have to sink further into poverty for most voters to care for the welfare of all in society, and not just the rich.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] yet respect can be lost when trust is too &#…, which is why I hold out hope for […]

  2. […] which now is freer without it. As point of comparison, John Cole at Balloon Juice describes his departure from the GOP, and it’s interesting what disappoints him with regard to his new party […]

  3. […] man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party. I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the […]

  4. […] man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party. I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the […]

  5. […] Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » What a Good Night […]

  6. […] What a Good Night By John Cole April 4th, 2012 […]

  7. […] becomes unavoidable and undeniable. Even for someone who voted for Bush twice,” – John Cole, Republican apostate […]

  8. […] send this column to them.  If you have friends or family or acquaintances who might be able to make the same leap John managed, pass it on to them too.  Pressure is a daily accumulation of little taps and nudges, and there is […]

  9. […] Cole posted this: A couple of you are wondering what made me switch parties in the other thread. It was a lot of […]

  10. […] John Cole has a long and thoughtful post about why he switched from being a wingnut to being a sane person. As he explains why he used to support the Bush Administration, key part to me is “I believed it. I identified with it. It was part of who I was for years. It was my deference to authoritarianism after years in the military. It was tribalism.” […]

Comments are closed.