How I Went from Left to Right to...Libertarian?
I grew up in the 70's. All of my ideas of government were shaped by what I read in the newspapers, evening broadcasts, and school textbooks. By the time I reached early adulthood I was a confirmed Democrat. I mistrusted Republicans because they represented money grubbing big businesses. I was a card carrying Sierra Club member, and I worked to pass legislation mandating the bottle bill in my state. I feared the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
Midway through college Jesus Christ came into my life. I felt transformed inside out. I began to try to live and think by what the Bible taught.
After transferring to a Christian college I was confronted with the abortion issue. As a good Democrat, I felt that abortion was a woman's right and perfectly moral. In one of our chapels the speaker presented a side I had never considered: that the thing the woman was aborting was a living human being. It was murder.
I was challenged to the core of my soul to think this through. If this was a baby, I had to change my position. After several days of wrestling with my thoughts, I had to admit that abortion was wrong.
As I went into the work force, and had more time to reflect upon national issues, I would often read articles degrading Christians. The Christians I knew weren't like the caricatures portrayed in the articles. Over time I saw that it was writers of a liberal/Democrat position that were making these untrue statements. I also realized that it was the Democrats who favored aborting babies.
So the choice was made: I switched my party allegiance to Republican. As I read more and more, I saw that it was the Republican Party that held more closely to the Constitution, and preferred a more limited government -- both things with which I was now agreeing.
I was excited to have George W. Bush voted president in 2000 and 2004. But during his presidency some things began to unravel. Whenever the Republican Congress voted for big handouts (medicine and farm bills) I expected the president to veto them. I don't remember anything ever vetoed. I was dismayed as the federal government grew bigger and bigger and more expensive. I felt betrayed by the party that once was for a limited government.
Where to turn? Unlike the '70's where my only recourse to news was filtered by the liberal press, I could now turn to the internet to listen in on other discussions. I became fascinated by economist Peter Schiff who accurately predicted the housing bubble burst. This led me into reading about Austrian economics, especially on the Ludwig von Mises site. Then I read about a politician who actually believed in these ideas and wanted to put them into practice, Ron Paul.
The more I read, the more I saw that these men stood for many of the original ideals of our country: sound money, limited government, personal liberty. I was becoming a libertarian.
So what does that mean today? It means that while I would prefer a Ron Paul presidency, I will continue to vote Republican, if for no other reason but to keep a Democrat out of office. It also means I will learn more about libertarian positions, and seek to apply them consistently as various issues come up.
Finally it means that I will try to be patient with those who disagree with me. It took me decades to process my own political beliefs, and I hope that I will disagree charitably and with reasoned argument those who may disagree with me.