What It Is To Be A Recovering Conservative

As my number of followers on Twitter grows, I keep getting comments on my bio post about being a “recovering conservative”, and I thought it must be time to make a serious post on a serious topic.

Conservatism is a disease. It is a disease that is insidious, infecting our communities, destroying families, ruining futures, and taking a terrible toll indeed with its iron grip on people’s lives.

My name is Nick, and I am a recovering conservative.

I’ve been thinking for myself now for probably about seven or eight years. I don’t perfectly keep record anymore, but that’s okay. This is a horrible affliction and it requires my constant vigilance not to fall off the wagon and I am grateful for the support I often receive to do so. When I think of how horribly conservatism has affected the lives of my friends, my family, and my community, I find the strength to keep my sanity.

It starts so innocuously. For me it was in high school,being bombarded by news of recess ion, of how immigration was going to ruin our country, my future prospects and everything around me. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember who first introduced me to conservative thought, but I remember the euphoria of that first read of some campaign pamphlet, of Ayn Rand, and so on. It all seemed so simple, so effective.

Soon though I couldn’t get enough. I read Friedman, I learned about libertarianism, and how those damned socialists planned to take all my initiative and effort and hand it to lazy slackers who didn’t deserve it. They even planned to import lazy slackers from other countries for me to give handouts to, the bastards!

People tried to intervene to help, I pushed them away. Didn’t they realize how great the invisible hand was? Why did we need government when we had the free market to look after us? Our consumption decisions aggregated charted the best path forward for us, didn’t they?

I thought I was in control, I thought I knew better as I spiraled into supply-side economics, Ontario’s Common Sense Revolution and more monetarism. I dabbled in libertarianism. I hung out with more and more shady characters, social conservatives, Tory Youth and so on. We thought we were kings of the world.

Then, suddenly, it all unraveled, I went to university, I was forced to read about other ideas. I was order to think, challenged to defend ideas I opposed, even to affiliate with some of those people from abroad we were importing. I even got blasted by that insidious “gay agenda” at my liberal school, forced to endure a message of tolerance and their horrible ideas about being treated like human beings – horrible then, anyhow. I started to fall apart. I couldn’t handle the stress so I went looking for more and more conservative thought but it just didn’t work anymore. I couldn’t get the fix I needed, that smug feeling about being right, about being intellectually superior, it just didn’t come. Nothing worked.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I hit a sort of rock bottom, and I found that those people whose ideas I had rejected actually had something to say worth hearing. Even when I didn’t agree I could still at least draw something from them. I started l realize how my conservative problem was affecting me and those around me and I realized I needed help. So I read more. I got surrounded by people who had different ideas. I started forming my own opinions. I even voted for the Green Party in a couple of elections, though that was mostly to stop relapsing.

I’ve come to realize there is life after conservatism, that you can cope with the disease if you seek help, and there are people out there who will help. It’s just a matter of taking that first step. You can think for yourself. You can form your own opinions. You can realize that talking heads don’t have answers.

As a recovering conservative, I offer the following advice. Start small on the recovery – pick one or two issues and ideas and explore then and eventually you’ll start to see how conservatism fails. Maybe it’s marriage equality. Maybe it’s abortion. Whatever issue it is that fuels your problem most, start there. Realize that recovery is painful and embrace it. Eventually it gets easier to have an open mind, to think critically.

It’s okay to be different, to keep your own ideas. I can interact with people just fine believing that fiscal responsibility makes some sense, that accountability is key, and that generally free markets are optimal, just as long as their shortcomings are corrected by prudent intervention. It takes time to handle it all: do go slowly.

The most important thing is you are not alone – people will help you. No one cares how you fell down, they care about how you pick yourself back up and they will help. That message is key.

My name is Nick. I’m a recovering conservative. You can beat this. You deserve to.

13 comments so far

  1. troublecomineveryday on

    I consider it “recovering your sanity” and I really mean sanity. This left/right, liberal/conservative paradigm is a false way to “look at the world”. Its sanity vs insanity and once you accept that, everything “makes sense”.

  2. OpinionatedGift on

    Thank you for that. Well said and deeply needed by a great many people.

  3. Rasta on

    Great Blog! Now I will have to follow yours too! (dammit) I know I won’t always agree, but I love the provocation of thought. Linked in to the thought that *I* can make a change, no matter how small, and fighting to motivate the apathetic lardarses around me.

    If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

    • warriorbanker on

      No need to agree with everything – if I only ever cared about the opinions of people I agreed with, I’d never have gotten anywhere in life – we all need to be challenged.

  4. AnonMKII on

    I finally found a former conservative. I have seen a number of former liberals writing on what made them flip but you’re the first former conservative that I’ve found. I would be really interested if you could further expound. Point out specifically what certain conservative leaders are saying and what is wrong with there views.
    For a good look at style and issues I would suggest looking here http://www.americanthinker.com/robin_of_berkeley/ I know some of her articles are rather weak and off the wall (especially when writing on Obama), but I think more often then not she makes a more concrete example and contrast.
    Look forward to reading more from you.

    • warriorbanker on

      This post was obviously written as a tongue-in-cheek polemic, but I plan to expand into more practical explanations of why conservative policy ideas aren’t as good as they sound and why I don’t think they are a good way forward for anyone. Except maybe billionaires, but in the long run not even for them.

  5. Yanah on

    As a recovering liberal I feel sorry for you. Liberalism is nothing but propaganda and justification fueled by self gratification and greed… And I’m embarrassed to say I once fell for it. There’s a reason more people turn conservative when they get older. They actually wise up. Sounds like you’ve dumbed down.

    • Nick on

      It’s funny you write this. Conservatism one day appeared to me entirely as you describe. It’s an elaborate propaganda system pushing the idea of self interest above society and pure greed. Except the greed is concentrated at the top with the tiny minority whose interests are actually served by the political ideas pushed.

      This post; which may have gone right over your head, is obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The thing is you’re demonstrating to me exactly what it was that made me realize that conservative is an embarrassing label used mostly by the feeble minded. A smug, self-righteous view of the world divorced from reality, looking backward instead of forward. Conservatives long for a bygone era that never existed and seem to see everything as black and white in my experience. You demonstrate this by assuming I am a liberal. When in reality I don’t actually claim any label because none suits me. Instead I prefer to critically think through any given issue before arriving at a position on it. That isn’t something I’ve ever seen encouraged in the conservative movement.

      • Yanah on

        So you’re neither a liberal nor conservative. It’s difficult to have a discussion with someone who is neither here nor there because they themselves have a difficulty convincing themselves what it is exactly they stand for. They usually go with the tide and because the tide is driven by society, they usually lean liberal. But they’re too embarrassed to be labeled that way, especially if you’re a “recovering” conservative.

        Conservatives are driven by morals and liberals driven by ethics. What’s the difference? Conservatives follow rules… By God or Constitution. Liberals follow what society dictates is appropriate. Usually driven by the strongest propaganda (abortion, gay marriage, welfare abuse — all self serving, self gratifying, no regard for what’s good for society as a whole) it’s an easier ideology to support, because it benefits me, me, me short term. Conservatism is far from self serving. These Regressives guised as so called Progressives are taking society back to when humans had no rules. I’d be happy to elaborate this but I doubt there’s much I can do here. So I’ll end this with a quote I firmly believe in…”if you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain” – Winston Churchill

      • Nick on

        I’ll humour this nonsense briefly.

        “Neither here nor there” implies that there are only two possible positions, which is completely and utterly ridiculous. And your comments go downhill from there.

        I am a pragmatist, meaning I actually think through issues before concluding a position on them. Such positions are not dogma, and can change on receiving new information.

        Your suggestion that only “liberals” are susceptible to propaganda, if that indeed is what you’re suggesting, is ludicrous. American conservatives have a massive propaganda machine which stokes a culture of fear and a sense of being somehow “ripped off”, all of which are positions designed to enrich those pulling the strings of the movement.

        To suggest that conservatives have a monopoly on ideas or caring about “what’s good for society as a whole” is also laughably stupid. Conservatives, especially American conservatives, who embarrass a lot of moderate conservatives in other countries, demonstrate this constantly, with their anti-intellectual positions on issues they tie baselessly to religion.

        Churchill, I would guess, would find the modern American conservative rather repugnant, and rightly so.

        Don’t bother “elaborating”. I’ve seen enough to know there’s no point in it.

  6. […] Hello. My name is Amanda and I am a recovering conservative. […]

  7. Corey on

    I just read this and it fit like a puzzle piece. I went through the same situation minus going to college. I was raised a conservative and fed that steady diet of hate for anyone and everything. Today I woke up intent on trying to write a blog about being a “recovering conservative” and with a quick Google search here you are. This was a great read. Thanks bud. Free thinkers unite!

    • Nick on

      Glad you enjoyed it.

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