I was born into and raised in a Democrat household. Supporting Democratic candidates and their positions was all I knew until my early twenties. Even though I wasn’t quite old enough to vote, I helped campaign for Michael Dukakis in 1988 (as an aside, if we fast forwarded 20 years then, I’m sure the Democrats and their ACORN co-conspirators would have been happy to have me vote). And yes, I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 – a short-sighted decision that I will rue until the day I die.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I remember very vividly coming home from school on March 30, 1981 – the day President Reagan was shot. I was not quite ten years old yet. I remember wondering why my mother was so upset, since I knew full well how much she hated Ronald Reagan. I may even have asked her why she wasn’t happy about it…it’s a little foggy on that point.
So, what changed? I can point to one single occurrence that changed my point of view forever, and it happened in January or February of 1995. One night after work at my salaried, but gross of about $10/hour, job I went to buy groceries. I’m sure my load of food consisted of hot dogs, ramen noodles, and macaroni and cheese mix, since I couldn’t afford much else. The man in the checkout line in front of me opened his wallet to pay, and I saw a bankroll that I could only dream about – a wad of Ben Franklins that was easily 3/8 of an inch thick. How did this individual pay for his purchases? With USDA food stamps. I saw this individual leave the parking lot in a luxury car; memory has it as an Infiniti, but it could have been a Lexus or one of the others. I trudged off through the sleet and snow to the bus stop.
Now, I’m conjecturing a little bit, but the conclusion I drew at that point was the individual I observed probably obtained those food stamps in exchange for a product or products that wouldn’t exactly have qualified as food. Either that, or he was committing out-and-out fraud.
In any case, this really irritated me. I couldn’t have gotten food stamps to feed myself; I know, because I inquired one desperate moment when I was dead broke not six weeks before. I saw the whole system then as broken, and I realized that with my votes I had sustained the whole house of cards.
This was also the opening days of the 104th Congress and the Contract With America. Back in November, 1994 I recall my then dismay at the Republicans’ sweeping victory – but now I took another look. What did I find? Ten proposals for legislation that I agreed with.
Then I did something I’m not certain I had done since I first had to in high school: I read the Constitution of the United States of America. Two things stood out to me above all, and they were the text of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Why these two parts? In the case of the Ninth Amendment, one of the “regulars” at the bar I spent too much time at (yeah, I was a “regular” too) often griped about how he couldn’t work unless it was through his union. By all means, labor unions have the right to organize based on the free association rights guaranteed by the First Amendment (“right of the people peaceably to assemble”); but doesn’t the Ninth Amendment guarantee one’s ability to exercise a right to free disassociation?
In the case of the Tenth Amendment, I went back through the Constitution and counted. I found that (I admit I just now recounted) that there are only forty-six specific powers ceded by the States and people to the Congress and the United States. None of which, by the way, could be construed to include the aformentioned food stamps. The rest of the Constitution enumerates what our government can not do.
Now, I know the Left loves the text of Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 that reads, “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” – and believes that this gives the Congress an omnibus writ to do basically whatever they want. If that’s the case though, then why do the texts of the 13th, 15th, 18th (since repealed), 19th, 23rd, and 24th Amendments include provisions that “Congress shall have power” to enforce said amendments with legislation?
I then also came to realize that the Constitution’s framers got it right the first time; the 17th Amendment served only to weaken the 10th Amendment by removing the representation of the States from the Federal Government and over representing the people.
What came next? Well, I got myself a paperback copy of The Federalist Papers and read the whole background behind the framing of the Constitution (time well spent riding the bus) – and became even more dismayed and incensed at how far our Nation has decended from what the Founding Fathers intended.
I realized the fallacy of liberal philosophies and policies. I quickly began to rip apart in my mind all of the supposed reasons for believing in liberal policies and exposed them in my mind for the lies and falsehoods they are. I rejected the very premises of them. I realized that the heart of Liberalism is intellectual dishonesty.
Well, then I looked at my paycheck and for the first time I really asked myself a question that I know many have: Who the hell is FICA, and why do they have all of my money?
I realized then that if my taxes were halved (yes, earning $20,000 a year gross meant at the time that I shelled out about 30 percent of my income to the government, including state and local taxes), I wouldn’t be riding the bus anymore; I’d be able to afford a beater used car.
And then, yes, I started listening to talk radio. First was Fred Honsberger on KDKA – my shift started at 3:00 PM when he came on the air. I graduated from there to Rush Limbaugh – who I had previously had nothing but disdain for, even though I had never listened to him or read anything he had written. What I heard was everything I was feeling. What I heard was everything I knew now to be the truth about the United States and the freedom, liberty, and opportunity handed down from our forefathers.
We’re now up to March or April of 1995. The last phase of my transition from unthinking, lemming Democrat to Conservative came in two parts. The first was when I sent an e-mail to Fred Honsberger (as I remember, the topic was reverse racism) which he read on the air. The second was I changed my residency to Pennsylvania, and registered to vote as a Republican.
In 1996, I supported Steve Forbes in the Presidential primary. I voted for Dole/Kemp that year for President. I proudly voted for George W. Bush both in 2000 and 2004 (I’m pretty sure I voted for McCain in the ’00 Primary, but don’t remember for certain). I wrote in Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal in this year’s primary, and while he’s not the pure Conservative I’d hope for, I’ll be voting for John McCain tomorrow, and working as a poll inspector to try and help assure that this election isn’t stolen by the forces who do and will trample our Constitution.
In the end, the answer to the question “why am I a Conservative?” is simply:
I can see, I can read, and I can think.