Living My Life In Reverse

I thought you were supposed to get more conservative as you aged (the old “if you aren’t a liberal at 20…”) Because this is not happening to me, as I am becoming more and more strident in the other direction.

Whatever, it’s working for me.

116 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    After spending time as an adult working-poor with two young kids, I don’t know how anybody in that position could ever vote R.

  2. 2
    👽 Martin says:

    Christ, you’re just stomping all over yourself tonight. Getting it out of your system before Anne Laurie shows up?

    But my dad has gotten way more liberal as he’s gotten older. He’s pissed that Obama hasn’t turn this country into marxist utopia yet.

  3. 3
    Short Bus Bully says:

    You and me both. Went through my “Oh, I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal and read The Economist and blah…” but since 2009 it’s been Dirty Fucking Hippie all the way.

  4. 4
    PeakVT says:

    I’m probably not much more liberal than I was at twenty, but I’m certainly much more convinced about it. The latter is thanks to the Bush maladministration.

  5. 5
    Kurzleg says:

    John – A slight bit older than you, and I’ve been paying close attention to what WZ’s song portends. My shit’s fucked up?

  6. 6
    Redshirt says:

    I’m a million times more liberal now than in the 80’s. I blame the nutbag Republicans entirely – they’re making me Marxist, for cripes sakes!

  7. 7
    Jay C says:

    Join the club, John: I’ve always been (or thought I have always been) a fairly moderate center-left-pragmatist in terms of politics, but mostly, recently, I find myself looking for a red (or black) flag to wave on a whole raft of issues.
    And also, too: I’m with 👽 Martin‘s dad: Up The Revolution!!!

  8. 8
    El Tiburon says:

    Also helps to have batshit crazy comservatives acting a fool. They make you want to start a commune and being back the winter bush

  9. 9
    Percysowner says:

    I’ve thought a lot of bad things about LBJ, but stupid wasn’t one of them. Hubert Humphry, George McGovern weren’t stupid either and none of them were spring chickens while being liberal as all get out. I always assumed whoever said it (contrary to the myth, it was NOT Winston Churchill), probably benefited from liberal causes when he was young and then after taking advantage of the social support system made a boatload of money and decided to keep it all to himself.

    I’m 60 and at least as liberal as I was at 15, probably more so because I’ve seen the mess conservatives have made of the world.

  10. 10
    Allen says:

    That’s just what conservatives tell themselves to keep from having to admit that they’re morons.

    I was always precocious to some extent, so I’ve always been liberal, but getting older–and I’m older than you–hasn’t made me any less so.

  11. 11
    drew42 says:

    I think you’re referring to:

    “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

    Two problems with this quote:

    1. Conservative != Republican

    2. Show me the evidence of brains, or lack thereof. It’s Republicans who are in love with this quote, which in itself makes the assertion questionable.

    There’s something to be said for the idea that viewpoints that aren’t conservative when you’re young are seen as conservative as you get older, since the younger general population tends to shifts left over time. My grandmother was fairly liberal for her time, but did once fret about my possibly marrying a black girl and making “pickaninnies.”

    Although I know many people (including myself) who have had more progressive viewpoints as they’ve aged and learned more about the world around them, I do not know a single person who has gradually shifted to the right (I do know two people who have become radical/reactionary due to personal tragedy — but that’s a whole other can of worms).

  12. 12
    Redshirt says:

    @efgoldman: Maybe a bit. But I was a full on member of the Reagan Youth and gleefully wore my “Free Ollie” T-Shirt, etc. I haz shame now. REM was right the whole time!

  13. 13
    Irony Abounds says:

    I was a pretty hard core conservative in high school, my first presidential vote was for Ford and I didn’t vote for a D until Mondale. I’m still far more anti-Republican than a Democrat, and I’m not quite the hand me a pitchfork and let’s kill all the rich people type person, but Republicans and conservatives are sooooo disgusting that I find myself supporting liberal positions that I otherwise might think twice about.

  14. 14
    Quincy says:

    Same here. You’re wrong about one thing though, there’s nothing fucked up about becoming a better person.

  15. 15
    the Conster says:

    I was a shop steward and fangirl of a Trotskyite union organizer in the late 70s, but if I was the age I was then now, I’d be an anarchist.

  16. 16
    Redshirt says:

    @Irony Abounds: An important point: I too am way more Anti-Republican than pro-Democratic Party. I don’t really like the Democratic Party a whole lot, to be honest. But it’s all that stands between us and utter madness, so go Donkeys!

  17. 17
    wmd says:

    @drew42: Yeah – a Conservative is a liberal that’s been mugged.

  18. 18
    joeyess says:

    We’re both in the same boat, Cole. Now, put your back into that paddle.

  19. 19
    AnotherBruce says:

    My first election at the age of 18 I voted for Gerald Ford, mainly because I couldn’t stand Jimmy Carter’s piousness. Also because I was at that point a libertarian more than a liberal. But when Reagan came along it opened my eyes and I voted for Jimmy Carter. Along the way I’ve voted for the occasional liberal republican (Jim Leach comes to mind). But yes, I’m turning more liberal as I age. I think that old trope attributed to Churchill is worn out. Your heart should take over as you age. You become more familiar with the death of loved ones and you realize that on a profound level that petty meanness is a waste of time, or at least you should if you want to live a meaningful life.

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    I feel less liberal now, although I can’t actually point my finger to any policy position that’s changed or any cause I would get behind. I think it’s just Justin Bieber and his god damn low hanging pants. We wore them low, sure, and came up with that idea of showing off the tops of our boxers. But he’s just taking things to far. (Although marky mark used to drop his pants onstage and he seems to have turned out ok, I’m thinking of pulling my support for public education if Justin doesn’t start wearing a belt.)

  21. 21
    toschek says:

    I think they need to change that to “If you’re not a Socialist in your 20s you have no heart, and if you’re not a Democrat by the time you’re 50 you have no brain.”

    That maxim only applies when you have rising standards of living, guaranteed retirement, progressive taxation and sustained growth i.e. the society the greatest generation inherited and built upon and the one the greediest amongst the baby boomers and gen x are currently bludgeoning to death in a blind alley while shitbag 20 year old poltroons like Luke Russert keep an eye out for the cops.

  22. 22
    Ted & Hellen says:

    You should think about dragging some of your prominent commenters along with you, John.

  23. 23
    pokeyblow says:

    FWIW, I think people who appreciate what they have in life tend to grow in empathy toward those who are disadvantaged, and tend to look more and more askance at those who give themselves 100% credit for whatever is good in their lives.

    I wonder whether there is a correlation between sincere “gratitude” to the gods for one’s bounty, and liberal politics.

  24. 24
    p.a. says:

    At one point in the 90’s I even subscribed to P.O.S. Horowitz’ newsletter. Ugh. Came around when I realized 1) I hated self righteous Bible thumpers 2) The stalking of the Clintons was based on massive, conscious fabrications 3) All the stuff I was agin’ was based on my discomfort with people different from me. Admitting my bigotry and realizing the problem is me not them is liberating.

  25. 25
    mclaren says:

    My personal experience is that people who start off conservative with a belief that society works and our institutions are basically fair get more liberal as they get a taste of the real world when they become older, while people who start off starry-eyed idealist and utopian get embittered and pissed off and turn massively conservative as they get older.

    Just from what I’ve observed. People who start off moderate seem to stay moderate.

  26. 26
    👽 Martin says:

    N Korea put their missiles on standby. Another escalation.

    Wondering who’s going to blink first this time.

  27. 27
    Suffern ACE says:

    @efgoldman: while that does concern me, I do believe that the youth of the day ought to express themselves and experiment using only time honored socially agreed upon methods. Sure, that sounds conservative. But I haven’t yet taken the step of blaming Justin’s fashion failures on foreigners, commies, feminists and gays. Which puts me out of the mainstream of modern republicans.

  28. 28
    Corner Stone says:

    @👽 Martin: But what’s with the blinking? Just ignore those dish rag 4th world motherfuckers. Tell China we got no skin in this one and they can talk sense to these motherfuckers. Or not. Peace out.

  29. 29
    Gex says:

    As a human being you can either continue to grow, or you start to shrivel up. Those who turn conservative choose the latter.

  30. 30
    👽 Martin says:

    @Corner Stone: I think it’s in everyones best interest that NK not be able to run wild with a nuke program. They have a half century of behavior of issuing threats in order to get economic support. I’m not looking forward to them being able to support much larger threats and make much larger demands. And we have no reason to believe that if given the opportunity, they won’t run over SK.

    There are a lot of countries we can ignore. NK isn’t one of them. They’re fucking bonkers.

  31. 31
    Fair Economist says:

    I’m on the same path. I used to be a libertarian. Enron and W made me a liberal. The Great Recession and Obama made me a socialist. Hopefully this stops before I join a resistance movement in some jungle.

  32. 32
    Nicole says:

    In my own personal experience, the people I knew who were right-wing assholes as teenagers (during the rah-rah 80s) are still right-wing assholes (including the one on permanent disability). The left-wingers are still left-wingers. I think the “you get more conservative as you get older” is one of those conventional truths that is in actual truth total bullshit, like the “liberal media” and “biological clock” and all that crap.

  33. 33
    Redshirt says:

    @Fair Economist: LOL. Viva la Revolucion!

  34. 34
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    As someone who was a conservative dickhead at 16…welcome to the club.

  35. 35
    Suffern ACE says:

    @👽 Martin: I’m beginning to think that those Swiss boarding schools that educate those sons of dictators like secretary Kim don’t focus on abstinence or self control enough to churn out good leaders.

  36. 36
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I don’t recall having ever been a Republican. When I was in fourth grade, kids would chant ‘Bush!’ or ‘Gore!’ on the playground. I was one of the only boys on the Gore side. You think that would have deterred the average 10-year-old.

  37. 37
    butler says:

    “if you aren’t a liberal at 20…”

    Ah yes, this old chestnut. A bit of mindless dribble passed off as wisdom for centuries, with different nouns substituted (liberal, conservative, democrat, socialist, idealist, realist, etc) into the phrase to suit the speaker’s current needs.

    Its interesting that it gets (incorrectly) attributed to Churchill by so many reactionaries, many of whom would likely be appalled to learn that during his career he implemented things like unemployment insurance, old age pensions and other social programs, all paid for by a “super tax” on the wealthy. Yes, he literally called it a “super tax”.

  38. 38
    👽 Martin says:

    @Suffern ACE: Yeah. Though I know the guy who was King Abdullah’s bodyguard when he was in school. Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts. For a middle east leader, he turned out pretty decent.

    Maybe it is all the fault of the swiss, though.

  39. 39
    Corner Stone says:

    @👽 Martin: I disagree. Yes, clearly the leadership is bonkers.
    But for fuck’s sake they can’t keep the lights on at night across the country. If China stopped supplying them they couldn’t drive a tank more than about 8 miles South of the DMZ.
    Someone tell me realpolitik escaped the 5000+ year old Chinese peoples.
    Ignore these clowns. Now we’re forced to respond and then what?
    You know, when that dog fucking fool GWB named Iran, Iraq and N Korea as the Axis of Evil I wasn’t surprised. But I thought Obama was supposed to be the adult in the room.
    WTF is this that we have to punch down at every little tin pot dictator across the globe?

  40. 40
    👽 Martin says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: It’s funny how that works. In high school I remember sharing with my friends where I was going off to college. Everyone teased me for choosing a school that was 80% female, and not some football powerhouse with fraternities and shit. After a few days of that, one of my friend stopped and noted “Wait, that means there’s like 4 girls for every guy there. And it’s way the fuck out in the boonies. That’s fucking genius!” Even 17 year olds struggled to overcome their tribalism to spot a place to easily get laid for 4 years.

  41. 41
    Linnaeus says:

    The philosopher Denis Diderot would say, John, that you’re following the more “natural” course by going leftward as you get older.

  42. 42
    Mike G says:

    I was a The Economist reader in college in the 80s, a moderate who could have gone with either party, though GHW Bush/Lee Atwater’s sleazebag campaign turned me off enough to not vote for him.

    The Repuke freakout when Clinton was elected, the psychotic animosity and commie-baiting directed at someone who was pretty moderate, gave me serious pause. The rise of Gingrich thuggishness made it worse, then the year-long marathon of stupid that was the Blowjob Media Circus turned me solidly off the Repukes (and the mass media). The 2000 election theft and the Niagara of cascading fuckups and mendacity of Bush/Cheney hardened my opposition into stone.

    Two decades of working in plantation/cheap labor/rule by fear mentality corporate America has certainly steered me away from the right as well. I think a stint working for Ross Perot’s company, like I suffered, would turn anyone with a sentient brain hard against the corporatist domination we currently endure in this country. Every single person I worked with was very glad he did not become President, and I have resolved to never work for a Texas corporation again for the rest of my life.

  43. 43
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I shoulda done that. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so depressed. I’d always gotten along better with girls in school (although maybe that’s just because there were more of them in the smartypants classes.)

  44. 44
    Corner Stone says:

    See ya later IU!
    I never understood how people kept trying to tell me IU was the best team in the tourny.
    Fuckin’ A.

  45. 45
    hamletta says:

    I was in the Reagan Youth demographic, but not of it, having been raised by a liberal Democratic mother who took me to anti-war protests. However, I was seduced by some liberal-ish Repubs in the ’80s like Jack Kemp.

    I even worked for an ill-fated GOP congressional campaign that initially hired me as a temp because they had a TV news crew coming by and needed the office to look busy.

    I dutifully typed away as they passed my desk, but I was typing the lyrics to “Walk On the Wild Side.”

    I’m still friends with the lifelong-Republican volunteer coordinator, who bemoaned the sorry state of his party over drinks during the 2000 recount battle: “I’m a conservative. I don’t like change. My party has been taken over by radicals!” He had quit active participation, even then.

    Saw him about 18 months ago, and made sure to stay away from politics, because I’m sure the mere mention of the Tea Party or Sarah Palin would drive his kind, lovely, conservative soul around the bend.

  46. 46
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Corner Stone: Putting Gottlieb in the studio with Chuck, Kenny, Greg and Greg was a bad decision.

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:

    @👽 Martin:

    They have a half century of behavior of issuing threats in order to get economic support

    Except this time around China isn’t playing Big Brother like they have in the past. The Korean War was almost won by the South until China intervened, and the North only stays upright because of China’s generosity. But China has a shit ton to lose if it pisses off its biggest trading partner (the US) and I’d bet money there are phone calls flying from Beijing to Pyongyang telling Kim to settle the fuck down.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hill Dweller: Turrble, just a turrble decision.

  49. 49
    SatanicPanic says:

    @butler: People attribute that to some personal achievement (I BECAME an asshole because wisdom!), when more likely they just went along with what was going on the country at large. If someone is 60 and at some point in the last 30 years became a conservative, it wasn’t because they gained some hard-won insight in their middle age- it was because during the 80s a majority of voters swung right and they followed along.

  50. 50
    NotMax says:

    Two things:

    1) You’re making up for lost time.

    2) It may not be that you are becoming more and more liberal, rather that you are becoming more and more attuned to and accepting of stark reality and less and less willing to let skate by unrecognized and unconfronted blinkered demonstrations of obstreperous and willful ignorance, laissez-faire selfishness and shallow arrogance in public life.

  51. 51
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I wouldn’t say my political views have changed, but I do think I’m less rabid about them than I used to be. People can disagree and still be good people and all that. And also that being liberal doesn’t make you smart, or even nice, automatically. There’s some real pricks out there who I’m glad the only thing I share with is who we vote for. Probably sounds thuddingly obvious to lots of you but I’m still figuring this stuff out.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    A liberal (in the civil liberties sense) is a conservative under indictment.

    Because, as Ed Meese taught us, if you’re under indictment, you’re guilty.

    Unless you’re Ed Meese.

  53. 53
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Maybe the phrase should be ‘If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you’re not a liberal at 40 you have no heart and no brain.’

  54. 54
    SatanicPanic says:

    I have always been a liberal, but growing up in redneckville I have a few heterodox opinions. Not many though. Mostly I am a run of the mill liberal. I gave up trying to be a radical years ago.

  55. 55
    👽 Martin says:

    @Corner Stone:

    But for fuck’s sake they can’t keep the lights on at night across the country. If China stopped supplying them they couldn’t drive a tank more than about 8 miles South of the DMZ.

    It’s not that simple. They have thousands of missiles, thanks not only to China but the Soviet Union while it was still kicking, Egypt, and a host of other nations. Some of those missiles are 30 years old, but they were pretty good missiles 30 years ago. And go look where Seoul is on a map. It’s 30 miles from North Korea. We could easily hit targets at 30 miles in WWII. There isn’t a spot on SK where NK couldn’t strike. Not many places in Japan, either. NK doesn’t need to cross the DMZ to make good on their threats. Yeah, they’d get wiped off the map if they tried, but they’re far from the most rational decision makers. Kaddafi didn’t stand a chance either, but he still pursued a path that guaranteed his lifeless body would get dragged behind a Toyota pickup one day. Assad is doing the same. No reason to believe that little prince Un doesn’t have the same delusions – but he can take a hell of a lot more people with him. And there’s no chance of a public uprising against him, and appears to be no chance of a military coup against him either. I don’t think there’s a moral conscious within the NK leadership any longer – they’re in their own constructed reality there.

    Part of our deal with Japan and SK was that they wouldn’t build up any notable offensive military capability. That was intended as a stabilizing effort – and it worked. They became economically powerful nations in the region, and we covered that cost. As much as I’d like to see us pull back militarily, I think it’s beneficial for everyone to have fewer standing armies on this planet.

    And SK is every bit as responsible for NKs access to weapons as China is. They’ve pumping a few billion dollars into the NK economy in exchange for cheap labor (~$75/month for workers – and people complain about using Chinese labor). Yeah, Samsung and Hyundai and the like have factories in NK. Now, that’s reprehensible, but I’m not sure we’re willing to walk away from SK over that. I agree it’s tempting, though.

  56. 56
    David Koch says:

    @👽 Martin:

    N Korea put their missiles on standby. Another escalation.


  57. 57
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Corner Stone: Turrble, indeed.

    Judging from the body language, no one liked Gottlieb. He certainly changed the vibe in the studio.

  58. 58
    Corner Stone says:

    @👽 Martin: Ok. What have we been doing with our DoD budget over the last 30 years if we can’t snuff out an NK threat without even bothering to wake up USPACOM.
    This is beyond ridiculous at this point. Who’s taking these escalations as real threats? They aren’t going to fire missiles into SK or against Japan.

  59. 59
    kwAwk says:

    I thought you were supposed to get more conservative as you aged (the old “if you aren’t a liberal at 20…”) Because this is not happening to me, as I am becoming more and more strident in the other direction.

    This has a lot to do with the fact that what we are told is ‘conservative’ nowadays is actually fairly radical.

    The Democrats are conservative in the sense of the word of being the protectors of the status quo.

  60. 60
    danielx says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Showing the tops of your boxers is one thing – hey, it could be an accident! – but the current fashion among the young’uns of having half the boxer-covered (hopefully) ass hanging out is…distasteful. I keep wanting to say hey, nobody really wants to see the skidmarks in your shorts, dude…trying to shock a Republican is one thing, total bad taste is another.

    None of which has anything to do with one’s political orientation, as far as I can tell. My dear departed daddy was an unreconstructed New Deal Democrat, and the 60s and – worse yet, the 70s – just about killed him. He thought people who couldn’t dress themselves properly were hopeless, which meant that I and my friends were walking offenses against humanity in his eyes. You know – let down your guard and the next thing you know we’re all wearing polyester leisure suits.

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I may not be as rabid, but…no. When somebody thinks it’s a good idea for women to be compelled to have not one but two transvaginal ultrasounds, for example – before and after using an abortion-inducing drug – well, fuck them. I don’t respect their opinions and I don’t respect them either. There are all too many situations like this or analogous to this in my benighted state as well as others, and to pretend that those advocating such measures are good people with whom I disagree is hypocritical.

    I don’t think people proposing such measures are good people, I think they’re bad people intent on forcing their views on others. Fuck them sideways, repeatedly, without benefit of lubricant.

  61. 61
    toschek says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Huh? They shelled SK a few years back IIRC. NK has never stood down in the war, there’s no treaty there is just a standoff like there has been for the past 50+ years.

    I wouldn’t put anything past the House of Kim.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    My one and only vote for any Republican, anywhere, was when we had a mock election in grade school and I voted for Gerald Ford.

    But ever since I reached the age of reason, it’s been 100 straight Democratic ticket all the way.

  63. 63
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    Well those weren’t the sort of people I was referring to. People can disagree and still be good within reasonable boundaries. Also the idea that if, say, an artist is conservative, I can like their art without liking their politics, because why would any smart person base their politics on what a favorite singer or director thinks in the first place?

  64. 64
    Gozer says:

    I’m far more liberal now than I was at 17 (30+ now). I’m downright militant, though still less so than my wife.

  65. 65
    LesGS says:

    @Suffern ACE: My first boyfriend went to a Swiss boarding school as a young’un. Warped him a tad. He had a scar on his chest where one of his classmates had bitten him in the showers. The teachers had control of the temperature of the water at a central tap, and one of them used to delight in agitating the boys by twisting it rapidly from icy to scalding and back. This one kid freaked out and, unable to get to the teacher, attacked my friend.

    His German was excellent, however, if idiomatically Swiss.

  66. 66
    sparky says:

    @the Conster: Oh my.

    but if I was the age I was then now

    My mind has been fucked. Ouch.

  67. 67
    Johnny Coelacanth says:

    I grew up in Texas, would have voted for Reagan when I was 18 (but didn’t). I eventually moved out of Texas and wised up enough to cast my first presidential vote for Clinton over Bush in 1992.

    I called myself a moderate until Congress everybody went bug fuck crazy for Clinton’s cock in the mid-90s, and I found myself moving to the left. Part of that was “if these idiots are against it, I’m for it;” part of it was Overton shifting and part of it was actually examining my own positions and realizing I was more sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalists than anarcho-capitalists.

  68. 68
    Suzanne says:

    I’ve always been a batshit liberal. I tried to start a Young Democrats chapter at my majority-Mormon high school. Couldn’t find a single teacher to sponsor it. It’s been hilarious as my formerly conservative friends have come to the side of light over the years since we graduated.

  69. 69
    dance around in your bones says:

    I’ve been a DFH since I was 14 and I haven’t change my views much since then.

    Traveling around the world at a young age only encouraged my outlook.

    Now I’m an old DFH. Not likely to change at this stage in my life. But yeah, my the shit’s fucked up.

  70. 70
    dollared says:

    I am to the left of the year 2000 me. It’s basically because I now really understand what it means to have the power tip back over to the rich.

    I am surrounded by tech millionaires and once upon a time I thought that their success – and democratic politics – was proof of our great society. Now I really understand how even these nominal liberals become assholes when the money convinces them that they are geniuses. And of course, I know enough of the boys trained at their right wing daddy’s knee to hate all poor people.

    Fuck em all. They are parasites and they are running our country into the ground.

  71. 71
    👽 Martin says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: And that was the real reason I went. I was an only child and grew up with my mom. I got along really well with the girls at school. I was a lot more comfortable hanging out with them. Even though I was accepted among the jocks being on the soccer team and whatnot, even though I was quite seriously a geek, I wasn’t interested in hazing and bullying people, which was a lot of what they got off on. I just never needed to boost my self-worth by kicking someone. So, I was mostly a loner until I think late junior year when one of the cheerleaders asked me to help her in math, and so I became accepted among that clique. They were the friends I considered closest. But I found a decent school with a good mens soccer team that was otherwise pretty small and where I felt I could still be a bit of a loner, or hang out with the girls.

    One of my most vivid memories in my first month at college (mid 80s) was getting invited to go study over in one of the girls dorm study rooms with two girls in one of my classes. There were maybe 10 people there, with only one other guy. And the other guy was gay and out. My cousin had just come out to the family the summer before, with my encouragement, but aside from him I’d literally never known another person who was out before. So this was really interesting! And it dawned on me during the conversation that some number of the people there weren’t sure if I was gay or not. But the other guy who I’d just met assured the group that I was not. Gaydar was amazing! How could he do that! And then it dawned on me that all through high school I bet a number of people wondered the same thing. Ah well. I didn’t care. Girls thought I was safe to spend time around. I tutored, literally, like 50% of the girls at that college through calculus and physics and such over the 4 years I was there (small school, remember – total student body in the hundreds). It was great. Everyone knew me. Everyone helped me the couple times when I stumbled. I got invited to every party. And I didn’t have to pretend to be a douchebag at all. It turns out the school was considered within the gay community a safe school for gay students to attend – so it was overall a really positive and welcoming place. I just stumbled onto it.

  72. 72
    Chris says:


    Put me down for thinking the trope is worn out and your heart should take over as you age, too.

    Except it’s not just the heart; it’s the brain, maturity and common sense. Conservatism (or Goldwaterism in my case) makes great sense when you’re a teenager whose primary concern is getting authority off (e.g. Mom and Dad) off your back, and when you still think you know everything. From that point of view, it’s easy to believe that if everyone just left you alone everything would be fine.

    But then you grow up, and learn that you are not, in fact, the center of the universe, that living in a worthwhile society requires compromise with other people, and that you need them (and they you) if you’re going to make it in the world. Ergo, liberalism.

  73. 73
    MattR says:

    To me it comes down to the realization that government is not perfect, but at this point in time big business is a much bigger problem. When you have industries full of “too big to fail” institutions they no longer have incentives to respond to their customers demands which leaves government as the only effective check on the power of big business. Of course big business has been busy corrupting and coopting the government, but its still our best shot.

  74. 74
    Anne Laurie says:


    You sure its not that you’re the same, but the Overton window has moved waayyy to the right? ‘Cause that’s where I think I am.

    This is a good point. My first ‘political’ memory is of falling asleep on the couch, the night of the 1960 election, because my Irish Catholic parents were too fixated on the televised results to put me to bed. That was shortly before my fifth birthday, and IIRC you’re in my approximate age group. Anyone who was a teenager or young adult during the Nixon administration had a head start on being skeptical of the authoritarian/conservative worldview.

    But I think another part of Mr. Cole’s political evolution is that he still hasn’t quite grasped how much of a safe, padded socioenvironmental bubble he grew up in. He was a straight white boy growing up with two professional parents in a nice university neighborhood in West Virginia. Outside of the nightly news, he had no reason to pay attention to all the horrors of the wider world (even the draft had been eliminated by the time he was old enough to know what the word meant). His parents never had to teach him that the cops were not necessarily his friends, or that every member of the opposite sex was a potential predator, or that expressing a romantic interest in the wrong person could get him beaten up or killed. Kudos to the man for being curious enough to eventually start exploring, and for being enough of a mensch to write posts like this one. But he’s not quite gotten over the assumption that, apart from some Highly Visible Special Exceptions, that everybody in America — or even on this blog — grew up in the same security and with the same social assumptions that he did. Ah, well, we’re all on the same journey, just sometimes on slightly different paths…

  75. 75
    NotMax says:


    You know – let down your guard and the next thing you know we’re all wearing polyester leisure suits.

    Required for the full ensemble: a Qiana shirt in a neon paisley or loud blockprint design.

    White belt is optional.

  76. 76
    AndoChronic says:

    I’m glad you still give a shit about the bullshit John. Just remember, put the lime in the coconut if all else fails!

  77. 77

    Sort of hard not to become more liberal if you’re paying attention to how badly we’re all being screwed by capitalism.

  78. 78
    Corner Stone says:


    Huh? They shelled SK a few years back IIRC. NK has never stood down in the war, there’s no treaty there is just a standoff like there has been for the past 50+ years.

    I’m sure I’m supposed to care about this somehow.
    Remind me why?

  79. 79
    tommy dee says:

    A Liberal is a Conservative who’s had an emergency.

  80. 80
    mai naem says:

    Living in this POS that is called AZ, I was the only vocal liberal in my HS civics class and I was the only liberal in my group of friends in college. Most, if they were interested, had been taken in by the Cult of Ronnie Raygun. It’s only since Obama won, that I have been in work/social situations where the majority are Dems. I’ve been waiting for this for about 25 years, a long fucking time.

  81. 81
    suzanne says:

    @mai naem: I feels ya. Did you by chance go to HS in Mesa?

  82. 82
    Carl Nyberg says:

    The most accurate way to view the world is that the Democrats are a coalition of conservatism (maintain the status quo), Neoliberalism and narrow-bore attempts to provide limited, targeted social programs.

    The Republicans worship power. The party exists to consolidate wealth and power for the rich and powerful. They pander to bigots to get the votes to win elections.

  83. 83
    fuckwit says:

    I was a Republican as a kid, a Libertarian as a young adult, and am happy to be a Democrat now.

    The older I get, the more liberal I get.

    What did it for me was 1) being horrified by seeing what unchanied “free market” capitalism really means in the dot-com 90s, 2) having kids, and 3) Bush and the Neocons.

    As much of an individualist and curmudgeon as I am, I realize we’re all in this together. There simply is no other way for us as a species to survive. We have to work together, and welcome each other’s differences, and take care of each other, the fundamental liberal values.

  84. 84
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I’m the same way. I was more conservative, though still thought of myself as relatively liberal, when I was younger. Like you, as I have aged I have grown far more liberal. Reality has a way of doing that to people who are willing to see it. I think that part of the reason is that conservatism has changed so much that it has completely turned me off to it. There is so much negative baggage that the right has attracted that I can’t ever see myself voting for a Republican again. Even if someone in our state was a sane Republican I wouldn’t want to vote to send them to Washington because they would enable the crazy fuckers from the other states.

    I hope conservatives keep turning people off, right to the point of no return.

  85. 85
    rda909 says:

    Been a liberal since I was a little kid. Was even a loud and proud member of the ISO (International Socialist Organization) while in college. Gotten more liberal as I’ve aged, and especially as I had kids. That’s why I’m a huge supporter of President Obama, since he’s done more to advance liberalism and shift the Overton Window as whole than most any American president ever, which is even more remarkable considering he’s faced the most adversarial Congress ever. These are not my opinions – these are basic facts.

    As a life-long liberal who on so many issues has been proven correct over time (not all, mind you, but most), I really appreciate people like you, Cole, who through introspection, change your views for the better, and welcome you to the club. Maybe you can communicate with so many of the other “former Republicans” such as Ed Schultz, Cenk Ungyer, Arianna Huffington and so on, and convince them to perhaps listen once and a while to those of us who figured all this out in elementary school, rather than still vilifying us to this day for supporting the most liberal president in any of our lifetimes?

  86. 86
    mai naem says:

    @suzanne: Phoenix. My niece is going to HS in Mesa and having issues with her mormon teachers who play favorites with the mormon kids. I know this is going to come across as an anti-mormon rant but I’ve been hearing about these stories from my sis and niece for almost two years and it’s patently unfair. It’s not so much the grades but the extra awards that go disproportionately to mormon kids. It doesn’t help that my nephew was in a primarily mormon scout troop and did not get an ounce of help from his fellow troop members when he worked on his Eagle scout project like he had with other kids projects.

  87. 87
    dcBill says:

    Absolutely the same for me.

  88. 88
    Irish Steel says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’m sure I’m supposed to care about this somehow.
    Remind me why?

    Are you going to make me come down there and make you watch all 12 seasons of M*A*S*H? I will fucking do it, Hotlips.

  89. 89
    DPS says:

    Never been on the right, and never even considered voting for a Republican. I did however take “sensible centrists” seriously and tended to trust the establishment, especially establishment media. I took Tom Friedman seriously because he was in the Times, and I watched Charlie fucking Rose, despite their being fatuous buffoons. Didn’t even notice. The developments of the years between impeachment and the 2004 election—my mid-twenties—killed all of that. In the latter part of that period, the Internet was important to my rethinking: it was helpful to have access to lots of sources of information and to be exposed to people who were readier than I was just to say that the various emperors were in fact naked.

    I don’t think that my basic policy preferences have migrated much since I’ve been an adult, but I’ve realized that a bunch of institutions and people that I reflexively gave some credence to are worth no trust at all and in fact themselves represent a real problem. But I think that that’s an equally big step to “evolving” on policy.

  90. 90
    pkdz says:

    @mclaren: Yes, this captures my own personal experience and my observations. I grew up thinking that society was currently fair (though aware of past injustice) and was conservative. I became more and more liberal as I became more aware of the real world.

  91. 91
    Gregory says:

    I’m 45 and the same has been true for me; I am more liberal now than when I was younger. But part of the perspective is how much more radically conservative the Republicans have been getting.

  92. 92
    Baud says:

    I’ve grown more liberal with age. Not a huge transformation like Cole, but I used to be more to the center than I am now.

  93. 93
    WereBear says:

    I radicalized at 14 and never looked back. But what has changed is that the Republicans have gotten bolder and crazier. Now, they are everything I fled from as a youth.

  94. 94
    Patricia Kayden says:

    While I’m very liberal, it’s interesting to see that my parents/sister in Canada have become more stridently conservative. They love Prime Minister Harper and can rail on and on about the horror of gay marriage/adoption, etc. Perhaps moving to the US in the mid-90s saved me from that fate.

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    kindness says:

    Warren Zevon was a bit if a drunk when he died. Don’t go there John.

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    chris y says:

    @👽 Martin: This was my dad too – a Butskellite (Brit = Eisenhower Republican) in Eisenhower’s day, by the time he died in the 90s he was practically in pitchforks and torches territory. But I still wonder if it was him that changed or the political landscape around him.

  97. 97
    jefft452 says:

    One of my favorite lines in a movie
    In “Stairway to Heaven”, David Niven describes himself as
    “Conservative by nature, Labour by experience”

  98. 98
    qwerty42 says:


    I’m probably not much more liberal than I was at twenty, but I’m certainly much more convinced about it. The latter is thanks to the Bush maladministration.

    Yeah, me too. A while back (2006?), I believe Ed Kilgore wrote that the Bush Administration had radicalized a lot of folks, and said that his thoughts had been changed by it. I think he was on to something with this observation. Interesting how that happened.

  99. 99
    UncommonSense says:

    Yeah, that’s happening to me, too.

    At eighteen, I was an Objectivist. Atlas Shrugged was my bible.

    At 47, I think sometimes that I am on my way to becoming a Marxist.

  100. 100
    brantl says:

    But Cole, you started out backwards.

  101. 101
    brantl says:

    @Redshirt: Boy, you still don’t get it.

  102. 102
    Lurking Canadian says:

    I don’t think my values have changed over time. I’ve always been a greatest good for the greatest number type.

    For a while in the 90s, the TINA crowd brainwashed me into being very close to a libertarian. I never *liked* the laissez-faire idea, but they had me convinced that economics was a science, and that they had scientifically proven any attempt to make people better off was bound to fail.

    I no longer believe economics has scientifically proven a damned thing, so I have freed myself from that position.

  103. 103
    jake the snake says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I think there is something going on internally in NK that
    all the sabre rattling is intended to distract from.
    Either they are on the verge of a total organizational breakdown, or Kim, Jung-Un is having trouble keeping support
    of the generals.
    Un’s rhetoric reminds me of Mao during the “Cultural Revolution.”

  104. 104
    Caedite Eos! says:

    Was an ardent far leftist in my teens, did 180 degrees flip to right libertarian in my early twenties and it took the 1990 recession and fall of the USSR to snap me out of it.

    Never looked back though and am getting lefter every year as I see the world my grandparents generation literally paid for with real blood, sweat and tears not just dismantled but trampled, pissed and shit on.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    ksmiami says:

    Good for you John!

    I was conservative than moderate than liberal and now I’m pretty much a socialist who’s ok with people doing well as long as those with the least are cared for and given opportunity. It just seems that as I get older, I recognize that rising inequality is terrible and unsustainable for a democracy… and really when my neighbors whine about their taxes, I just make fun of them and say “really, you really need another Prada bag????”

  107. 107
    lojasmo says:

    I have always been a DFH. Now that I have a basic understanding of how government and geopolitical shenanigans work, I am more tolerant of things like Droooonez!*

    *The drone program wasn’t an issue for me under the last administration either.

  108. 108
    Mnemosyne says:


    Given that he died of inoperable peritoneal mesothelioma (aka asbestos-related lung cancer), any drinking Zevon was doing at the end was the least of his problems.

  109. 109
    Tokyokie says:

    Late to the thread, as is typical, but I grew up in the ’60s in a small town (pop. about 20,000) that was home to a Fortune 500 company. It was like growing up in a suburb without having the benefit of a nearby large city. Pretty much everybody I knew was the son or daughter of a professional, and I grew up thinking that we were all regular middle-class types, not upper-middle-class, because I had no basis of comparison. The town was, and remains, extremely conservative politically. (I think it voted for Goldwater by about a 3-to-1 margin, for instance.) And I went along with the flow, at least initially. In 9th grade (about 1968), I was very conservative, thought Mayor Dayley had unduly coddled protesters at the Democratic convention. By 1972, when I first voted, I’d decided Nixon was a crook (but I couldn’t bring myself to mark the ballot for McGovern because I thought his handling of the Eagleton situation showed that he wasn’t particularly competent). By 1974, I was braying for Nixon’s impeachment, removal from office, conviction and lifetime imprisonment. By 1976, I was a precinct coordinator for Mo Udall.

    Somewhere along the line, I’d come to understand that I’d grown up in a bubble of privilege that had seriously warped my perspective and that the people who were most stridently advocating traditional values didn’t believe in them at all. Perhaps it was realizing that the student body president in my world history class was a blithering idiot when he insisted that Peter the Great was just another no-good Russkie commie even after I pointed out that Peter died nearly a century before Karl Marx was born. Perhaps it was spending time around my friend’s mom who was a German Holocaust survivor whose usual rejoinder to right-wing polemics was to hoot derisively in the face of whoever was blathering them. Whatever it was, I basically figured out that everything I knew was wrong, and since I figured that out, I have not voted for any Republicans to speak of. (OK, so when I was living in Utah and living in a safe Democratic state House district (a lot of retired railroad workers in Ogden), I voted for the Repbulican pharmacist who was probably going to lose by about a 3-to-1 margin BEFORE he got busted on meth charges a few days before the election. But I was only doing that to be perverse. Living in Utah does that to you.)

  110. 110
    Original Lee says:

    @mclaren: Exactly.

  111. 111
    Pococurante says:

    @butler: And of course Churchill moved between the two parties at least three times. And invariably while he was in one party his speeches and legislation was more associated with the other. But with only a few exceptions he was remarkably consistent in his views over his life time – it was the parties and the country zeitgeist that varied.

    I highly recommend the three book “Last Lion” series.

    Most reasonable people are a mix of lower case liberal and conservatism. And should be uncomfortable with upper case labels.

  112. 112
    bcinaz says:

    Me to. Was a registered Libertarian in AZ for years, then Bush v. Gore and I realized getting in the game for real was more important than some political mental masturbation. Am now a fire breathing progressive liberal

  113. 113
    Luci says:

    Well… I think you’ve decided to go the right way anyway. :) I’ve always been exceedingly liberal and am getting more so if that’s possible, and there is nothing that is more obnoxious than hearing people talk about “these days.” You know… the ones who get more conservative and forget that “the old days” were not actually any better than “these days.” In fact, in some ways, now is FAR preferable to what it was like years ago, as we’ve made a lot of advances in medicine and how we live and such even since I was a kid… in the 50s. :) I guess people become more themselves as they get older and we shed our old personae (spell check tells me that “personae” is the plural of “persona.” I hope so), so perhaps that’s what you’ve been doing right along now. :)

  114. 114
    Dearolddad says:

    Me too…I always leaned liberal but now I am a ‘just can not stand to deal with, speak to or be around these simple minded aholes’ …kind of a guy. In my sixties I see no need and have no inclination to suffer idiots.

  115. 115
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    Eagleton was a bad pick as far as optics were concerned, the whole psychiatric character assassination was ridiculous.

  116. 116
    good2go says:

    Yeah, me too. The older I get, and more educated, and more experienced, the more convinced I am that the right is useless. Too bad, actually, and not necessary, but that’s the way it is. (Glad I bought that house in Canada 10 years ago.)

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