Why A Conservative Turns Liberal
Tom Evlsin posted an essay he wrote in 1979 as he was entering middle age and turning from a liberal to a conservative. He called it "Why A Liberal Turns Conservative". I won’t paraphrase it here because it should be read in its entirety. It’s a good piece, well thought out, and probably indicative of the movement of a generation of liberals to conservatives.
But I think Tom and his generation were not moved to the right by the aging experience, as he suggests, but by the formative experiences of his generation, which he outlines; the failure of the great society most notably the welfare system, the ravages of inflation brought on by lax monetary policy and the oil shock of the 70s, the failure of the Carter administration, and the crime wave that invaded our cities in the 60s and 70s.
I don’t suspect that my generation is moving right in the same way as we age. For one thing, many of my generation started out in the conservative camp to begin with. We came of age with Reagan in the White House and the conservative movement was in full bloom. Tom’s generation came of age in the 60s when liberalism was the popular way to think.
I am not sure if left and right are the correct words anymore either. The formative experiences of our generation have been the economic boom of the 90s built upon a balanced budget and a technology revolution, 9/11 and the arrival of terrorism in our country, and the dominance of "morality" and religious fundamentalism in our political system.
Where will all of this lead us? I doubt its further right. I also doubt its back to the failed liberalism that Tom’s generation became so disillusioned with. My hope is we end up in the center, back to a democracy instead of a theocracy and back to fiscal prudence instead of red ink as far as the eye can see.
UPDATE: Jason Chervokas posts on why he’s also becoming more liberal as he ages.