Skip to comments.Why I Left The Left
Posted on 07/04/2006 4:50:08 AM PDT by HansGygi
I used to be a liberal.
I was in one of the first open classrooms growing up in very progressive Great Neck, New York, in the 1960s. In 1971, when I was 11, I wrote vitriolic letters to President Nixon demanding an end to the Vietnam War.
My first vote, in 1980, was for Independent John Anderson, followed by Mondale, Dukakis, and Clinton-Gore. I read Thomas Friedman in the NY Times and tried to understand the root causes of the despair he said the Palestinians felt that drove them to blow up innocent Israelis.
I wasnt an overtly political person I just never veered from the liberal zeitgeist of the community in which I was raised.
But when I was about 27, in the late 1980s, cracks in my liberal worldview began to appear. It started with an uproar from the Left when Tipper Gore had the audacity to suggest a label on certain CDs to warn parents of lyrics that were clearly inappropriate for young people. Her suggestion was simple common sense and I was surprised by the furor it caused from the likes of Frank Zappa (and others) who felt their freedoms were being encroached upon. It was my first introduction into the entitled, selfish and irresponsible thinking I now associate with the Left.
In 1989, I remember questioning whether Democrat David Dinkins was the best choice for Mayor of New York City (where I lived) over Rudy Giuliani. After all, Dinkins hadnt distinguished himself as Manhattan Borough President while Giuliani, as a United States District Attorney, had just de-fanged the mob.
But, racial healing was the issue of the day, Dinkins won, and the city went straight downhill. When Giuliani beat Dinkins in a rematch four years later Surprise! the crime rate plummeted, tourism boomed, Times Square came alive not with pimps but with commerce. Since 1993, the overwhelmingly liberal electorate in New York City has voted for Republicans for Mayor. Yet, to this day, many of my liberal friends refer to the decisive and effective Giuliani as a Nazi, even as they stroll their children through neighborhoods he cleaned up.
"What made me leave the Left for good and embrace the Right were their respective reactions to 9/11. While The New York Times doubted that we could succeed in Afghanistan because the Soviets in the 80s hadnt, George W. Bush went directly after the Taliban and Al Qaeda seriously damaging and disrupting their networks."
After moving to Los Angeles in the early 90s, I watched from the roof of my apartment building as the city burned after the Rodney King verdicts were handed down. I thought what those four cops did to King was shameful. But I didnt hear an uproar from my friends on the Left when rioters rampaged through the citys streets, stealing, looting, and destroying property in the name of no justice, no peace. And it was impossible not to notice the hypocrisy when prominent Hollywood liberals, who had hosted anti-NRA fundraisers at their homes a week before the riots were standing in line at shooting ranges the week after it.
I watched carefully as Anita Hill testified during Clarence Thomass Supreme Court nomination hearing, claiming Thomas once head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sexually harassed her after she rebuffed his invitations to date him. At the time, I rooted, as did all my friends, for Miss Hill, hoping that her testimony would result in Thomas not getting confirmed. In retrospect, Im ashamed that I was ever on the side of people who so viciously demonized a decent, qualified person like Judge Thomas, whether you agree with his judicial philosophy or not. Condoleezza Rice, during eligibility hearings for Secretary of State, also had to deal with rude people like Barbara Boxer, who seemed not to be able to fathom that a black American could embrace conservatism.
I voted for Al Gore in 2000. When he lost, I was disappointed, mostly in my fellow Democrats for thinking that the election had been stolen even though three other elections in the American history had been won by the candidate who had not won the popular vote (John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and Benjamin Harrison in 1888). The rush to judgment by the now conspiracy consumed Left put me off. Where, I asked, were all the disenfranchised black voters who would have given Gore a victory in Florida? No one could produce a single name. And how exactly were the voting machines in Ohio rigged in 2004? I now refer to the Democrats as the Grassy Knoll party.
Still, I approached the 2004 primaries with an open mind. I was still a Democrat, still hoping that leaders like Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson would emerge, still fantasizing that Democrats could constitute a party of truly progressive social thinkers with tough backbones who would reappear after 9/11.
I was wrong. The Left got nuttier, more extreme, less contributory to the public debate, more obsessed with their nemesis Bush and it drove me further away. What Democrat could support Al Gores 04 choice for President, Howard Dean, when Dean didnt dismiss the suggestion that George W. Bush had something to do with the 9/11 attacks? Or when the second most powerful Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, thought our behavior at the detention center in Guantanamo was equivalent to Bergen Belsen and the Soviet gulags? Or when Senator Kennedy equated the unfortunate but small incident at Abu Ghraib with Saddams 40-year record of mass murder, rape rooms, and mass graves saying, Saddam's torture chambers have reopened under new management, U.S. management"? What Democrat could not applaud the fact that the President had, in fact, kept us safe for whats going on 5 years? What Democrat even those who opposed the decision to go into Iraq wouldnt applaud the fact that tens of millions of previously brutalized people had the hope of freedom before them?
What made me leave the Left for good and embrace the Right were their respective reactions to 9/11. While The New York Times doubted that we could succeed in Afghanistan because the Soviets in the 80s hadnt, George W. Bush went directly after the Taliban and Al Qaeda seriously damaging and disrupting their networks. Although many on the Left claim to have backed the President's actions, the self-doubt leading up to it, crystallized my view of the Left as weak and terminally lacking in confidence.
I supported President Bushs hard line against the father of modern terrorism, Yasir Arafat, remembering that Bushs predecessor hosted Arafat at the White House 13 times, more often than any other world leader. I applauded Bushs unequivocal support for Israel, which every day faced (and faces) suicide attacks against its people. But I was most disappointed with liberal Jews who dont understand that their very existence is rooted in Israels existence and that George W. Bush has been the best friend that Israel has ever had. But because they are less Jewish than they are liberal, they didnt reward Bush with their vote in 2004.
Finally, I supported President Bushs decision to oust Saddam and make possible the only democracy (other than Israel) in this crucial region of the Middle East. Post 9/11, we had to figure out a way to lessen the chances of more 9/11s. Democracy is a weapon in that war. If people are free to build businesses, buy homes, send their children to schools, pursue upward mobility, live their lives without fear, read newspapers of every opinion, vote for their leaders, resolve differences with debate and not bombs, they will have no reason to want to harm us.
In response, the Left offered bumper-sticker-type arguments like, Bush lied and thousands died. But Bush never lied. He, like Clinton and Gore and Kerry and the U.N. and the British and French and Israeli intelligence services affirmed that Saddams WMD were a vital threat a threat, that post- 9/11, could not stand. An overwhelming number of Democrats voted for the war but now the Left says they were scared into their votes by Bush. What does it say about Democrats if the dummy they think Bush is can scare them so easily?
Iraq is the Normandy of the War on Terror. The hope, once Iraq and Afghanistan are more stable, is that the nearly 70 million people in Iran will look at those countires (on it's left and right borders) and say: Why do these people get to enjoy the fruits of freedom and we dont? and then topple their Mullahs dictatorial regime. The President understands the big picture -- that if the U.S. doesnt help to remake that volatile region, we will face a nuclear version of 9/11 within the next two or five or 10 years. He is simply being realistic in his outlook and responsible in his actions. Iraq is succeeding, slowly but surely, but thats not a sexy enough story to lead the news with: the relatively small amount of casualities are. Dont forget, we occupied Germany and Japan for seven years and we still have troops there, more than 60 years after World War II ended.
And what have the Democrats contributed to the war effort since 9/11? Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold has suggested censuring our president; Former President and Vice President Bill Clinton and Al Gore, while visiting foreign countries, have blasted President Bush acts of unconscionable irresponsibility; Democrat Sen. John Murtha, has invoked a cut-and-run policy in Iraq, supported by Democrat Senate Minority leader Harry Reid and Democrat House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Do they think the Middle East and the World would be safer if we had cut and run, as Murthas plan wanted us to do? Under that plan, our troops would have been out of Iraq by May 18th and al-Zarqawi wouldnt be dead, but pulling the strings in an Iraqi civil war. With these kinds of ideas and behaviors, I just dont trust Democrats when it comes to our national security.
And so, as any reader of this article can well understand, it became impossible for me to relate to the modern Democrat Party which has tacked way too far to the left and is dominated by elites that dont like or trust the real people that make up most of the country.
Although I havent always agreed with President Bush, I proudly voted for him in 2004 (the only one of the four presidents not elected by the popular vote to win re-election). And I now fully understand Ronald Reagans statement, when he described why he switched from being a liberal to a conservative: I didnt leave the party It left me! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Seth Swirsky is a songwriter, author, recording artist and memorabilia collector. His hits include "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" for Al Green, "Tell It To My Heart" and "Prove Your Love" for Taylor Dayne, "Instant Pleasure" for Rufus Wainwright amongst others. His trilogy of bestselling books consisting of his correspondence with baseball players are called "Baseball Letters" (Crown, 1996), "Every Pitcher Tells A Story" (Times Books, 1999) and "Something to Write Home About" (Random House, 2003). His personal collection consists of the ball that went through Bill Buckners legs in the 1986 World Series and the letter banning Shoeless Joe Jackson from Baseball. His own CD, "Instant Pleasure", won Best Pop Album at the 2005 L.A. Music Awards. Currently, he is making a bookumentary called Beatles Stories. His eclectic world can be seen and heard at his site, Seth.com.)
A true liberal today is a combination of socialist, fascist, and hypocrite. They are also rabidly anti-America!
I guess he tired of hovering around the political Mendoza line.
I left the Left after the 1992 Democratic Convention when Bob Casey, former Governor of Penna was not allowed to address the platform committee because he wanted to bring up the issue of abortion.
HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK! I began to understand that these people were not interested in ideas, only in control.
Similar to my "pilgrimage".
Democrats' criticism of Bush strikes me as blatantly opportune rather than principled. I don't know how those people can stand themselves.
Exactly... I watched this on display by a rabid liberal, during our 4th of July celebration at one of our local parks.
We had a boat parade by the river, and as we watched, a boat, decorated in red, white, and blue passed by with a sign that said, "We support our troops and President Bush".
This flaming liberal started flipping them off. If his ailing mother wasn't present I would have pushed the sob into the water.
Their hatred of this country is stunning.
Control yes...leadership no.
I love to read about these "eureka" moments.
Welcome to Free Republic!
I used to be a hippie liberal as well. My first vote for President was in 1972 at the tender age of 19, I voted McGovern. I voted for Jimmah the peanut man...in fact I voted a straight dem ticket until the second term election of Ronald Reagan.
I never have really figured out the exact turning point that steered me in the "right" direction. Perhaps it was raising a family of three children and starting my own business in 1981 that did it.
Happy Fourth of July!!!!!!!!!!
I just read this last month. A good quick read, and it tells the story of the hard left turn the democrat party took. I recommend picking it up.
When I re-read it in my 30s, I understood it but kept voting Democrat out of habit, even though I was basically thinking opposite of the party.
In '96, I voted for Clinton and would have probably voted for Gore in 2000 if Clinton had stood up and said, "Ya, I cheated on my wife and got a blowjob in the Oval Office so STFU." The fact that he lied about something so incredibly stupid pissed me off. Had he been honest I would have shrugged it off thinking, "Well, your wife's a hag so....whatever."
Although, even if he had told the truth and I stayed with the Democrat vote through 2000, 9-11 would have done it for me.
Great article to read over my morning coffee.. Thanks.. And welcome.
A bit off subject I wasn't really old enough to understand first hand the actual political dynamics of that era. But why in the hell does Nixon's name get associated with Vietnam? I mean wasn't it exclusively Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson that got us involved and escalated it?
RE your post #12 - My feeling, too. A very interesting essay. Glad I read it.
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