Most of the time when you see a #walkaway story, it’s someone who has left the left within the last four years. Not me. I was a pretty hard-core liberal, a Democrat, leaning strongly toward the left, when I was young. (I’m not any longer. Young, that is. Or leftist.) What that means is that I left the left many years ago. But it’s still a #walkaway story, and — I hope — worth telling.
First, I’ll explain what made me lean left politically. It definitely wasn’t my family. My parents were Republicans, but I didn’t know that until I was an adult, as they never talked politics at home. My influence toward the left came entirely from teachers, professors, things I read and watched, and the influence of a sorority sister involved in Young Democrats.
The first time I remember anyone talking about the difference between Republicans and Democrats was in my high school government class. The teacher had been explaining American government in a neutral way all semester, and when we studied a section on the U.S. two-party system, a fellow student piped up and asked what we’d all been wondering.
The teacher answered, “The simple way to explain it is that Republicans tend to be for big business and the wealthy and Democrats are for the little guy.” My emotional reaction (at age 17) was: Who wouldn’t want to be for the little guy?
Yet being pretty much a political blank slate, it wasn’t until my third year of college, a presidential election year, that I was fully influenced toward the left. I enrolled in what I thought was a sociology course called “The Psychology of Sex Differences,” which on my transcript to this day is listed as “Women's Studies.” I read a sci-fi novel with an anti-nationalist theme. And there was that sorority sister who insisted the Republican candidate was a hawk and would get us into a major war (he didn’t).
When I was a liberal, I was young and idealistic. I think that’s why (unlike some lifelong conservatives), I understand that at heart most liberals are good people and want good things for their families, friends, and country. My young ideals meant that I voted for the Democratic candidate the first opportunity I had (at age 20) to vote for President. That candidate lost the election.
Four years later, I voted for the person who won that election.
What had turned my heart and mind in such a short time? Like many people with #walkaway stories, I can pinpoint it to a single “aha” moment.
Here it is: After an absence from church while I was in college, I started attending again. That led me to attend a seminar on the topic of abortion. I hadn’t been staunchly pro-choice before, so I was open to hearing another viewpoint. And the truths I learned in that seminar opened my eyes to the reality of what happens in a mother’s womb as a baby is forming and also what happens when that baby’s life is taken.
Even now, for those who take the pro-choice side, I challenge you to watch a 4D ultrasound. Learn the truth of how an unborn baby develops. Learn that a baby’s heart starts beating and brain acitvity is detectable at around five to seven weeks gestation, often before a woman knows for sure she’s pregnant. Learn the statistics of how many babies are aborted each year in this country (more than a million). And watch an ultrasound showing what actually happens during a typical abortion.
Learning those truths changed everything for me. If you can learn what I learned and watch what I watched and not be changed by it, well, I actually don’t know what to say. I couldn’t be that hard-hearted, and I don’t think most decent people could be, either.
That makes my story a little different from more recent #walkaway testimonies. I wasn’t walking away from something as much as I was walking toward what I recognized as a better way.
Since then, over the years, I have adopted additional conservative views in favor of smaller government, freedom of speech, and personal responsibility; convincing arguments were what got me there. If you want to hear more about some of those views, you can read my other post: A Conservative Response To “I’m a Liberal, but That Doesn’t Mean What a Lot of You Think.”
Being conservative doesn’t mean that I no longer have ideals, but it does mean I have a more realistic understanding of human nature and how government should respond to it. In other words, conservatives tend to be more pragmatic and practical in the way we approach solutions for society’s problems.
Yet liberal values don’t scare me. Even with our differences, I have a lot in common with liberals. Despite what many liberals might believe, as a conservative I’m against racism and discrimination. I believe in the value of all people and that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. I believe we should take care of the vulnerable members of our society. I believe in free speech.
But leftist values do scare me. Cancel culture scares me. Restriction of speech on our college campuses (and elsewhere) scares me. Biased journalists (when they should at least attempt to be objective) scare me. Imposition of leftist values in our public schools scares me. Because true leftists, true socialists and Marxists, though some may not realize it yet, are advocating for totalitarianism, and that is the antithesis of liberalism. The opposite of a free society. And the scarier thing is that many DO know it and are advocating for it anyway.
Sadly, the Democratic Party, more and more, is being taken over by the radical left. Yet it’s my contention, based on personal observation and experience (I haven’t looked up the stats), that most Democrats are still liberals, not leftists. So if you’re a Democrat, PLEASE take a stance against totalitarian values and hang onto your liberal ones. Those, I can respect.
And respect your conservative friends in return. We aren’t your enemies. You need us. We provide balance when some of you go too far left, just like you provide balance when some of us go too far right (but not me — I’d never do that).
And when you’re ready to #walkaway, you’ll find a whole new brotherhood/sisterhood waiting to welcome you. When you do, I’d love to hear your #walkaway story!