Hello, my name is Chris Barnhart, and I’m a conservative. That’s right. Not a liberal, not really even a moderate, but a conservative, and proud of it. But I wasn’t always this way. In fact, until quite recently, I considered myself very liberal – progressive even.
So how and why did I cross over to the right? Interesting question.
I grew up in a liberal town, but I never thought of it as liberal. To me, it was more full of what I considered “rednecks.” I was raised a Lutheran, by conservative parents, and I rebelled against them from an early age. That’s what they get for teaching me to read when I was four! So, if they were conservatives, then I must be liberal just to be disputatious.
In high school, I became a born again Christian, and joined an Evangelical church. Reagan was the president then, and the church taught me he was also the anti-Christ. This was the early 80’s, the height of the cold war. Pop culture was filled with anti-nuclear war imagery and messages. I was carefully taught by Mtv that there was essentially no difference between Gorbachev and Reagan, the USSR and the USA. I learned that patriotism was evil, and that national pride was the next step to national socialism.
Add to all that the fact that I discovered I was gay.
What choice did I have but to be a die-hard, far left liberal?
For years, I remained largely apolitical. Thanks to an increasingly leftist bent to mainstream media – including movies and TV shows – it never occurred to me to challenge my own views.
I floated through life this way for years.
Then 9/11 happened. I was living in Silver Spring, MD at the time. I had a good friend who worked at the Pentagon, doing something I have no idea what, because I wasn’t cleared to know. She was a proud conservative, and we used to argue about everything political, though we loved each other dearly. That day, I was awoken by my mother, who called me frantically to make sure I was alright. After I turned on the news, and watched in disbelief as my country was mercilessly attacked, I grabbed my cellphone and desperately tried to reach my friend.
That day, a large group of people formed online. The regular phone lines were jammed, so we sent emails back and forth, and used our cellphones to track down people we feared might be missing. Among our group, what remains to me the greatest symbol of American courage and compassion that day was a former Marine who volunteered to escort Muslim families from their mosques to their homes. We all feared reprisal against the innocent.
The next day, my conservative friend and I sat in front of the TV in the living room and watched the towers collapse over and over again. I turned to her and said, “I want to join the military.” Very gently, she turned to me and replied, “Honey, you’re 35 and queer. They don’t want you.”
I understood, but my life changed on that day. For the first time, I realized that – not only was I not ashamed to be an American – I was damned proud to be one. I found I respected the military, the police, all those who kept us safe for so long, like I never knew I had.
Since 2001, I suppose I’ve been drifting to the right without noticing. The “liberal bubble” Hollywood created for me was comfortable. I had no reason to question my suppositions, because everything pop-culture told me reinforced me beliefs.
Fast forward the better part of a decade. I was heavily into the progressive news program “Democracy Now,” (which I still consider good reporting, but with a heavily leftist bent). When Obama emerged as the front runner in the presidential elections, I watched Bill Ayers’ two-part interview on the same program, I got mad. I believed him about his relationship with the future President, but I was deeply offended that this man was an repentant terrorist. A TERRORIST!
Still, I voted for Obama, buying that whole hope/change thing. I found him personally arrogant and distasteful, but a lifetime of thinking myself a liberal forced me to make that choice.
About a year after the election, I reconnected with some old friends via Facebook. They’re very private people, so that’s all I’ll say about them, other than the fact that they’re conservative. I went to visit them, and found they were heavily into Fox News.
Anathema! I cried. And that evil, shouting Bill O’Reilly, he was the worst. Well, the second worst, next to that horrible, traitorous Glenn Beck, who – coincidentally – I went to high school with.
But I watched. And I learned. And I discovered that I agreed with a large part of what I saw and heard. I do believe in a small government, damn it. I believe in personal responsibility and the freedom to make choices on my own – fail or succeed – without a nanny state looking out for my “best” interests at every turn.
I broke my conservative teeth with RedEye, then moved on to Megyn Kelly and Brett Baier. Bill O’Reilly quickly became one of my favorites and, though I swore it would never happen, I found myself drawn to Glenn Beck and liking over 90% of what I heard.
In the meantime, I was very active on Twitter (follow me @ChrisBarnhart!), and I started following some of the liberal and conservative people I was now watching and hearing so much about. I followed Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert, as well as Andrew Breitbart. I started to see the liberal bias in the media for the first time. And, more than just the message, I saw how the message was delivered.
Quickly, I became ashamed of how liberals obfuscated everything in terms of emotional buzzwords like “race.” I went from being a “teabagger” mocker to a Tea Party supporter. I started reaching out to people. I wrote letters of support to Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, saying I fully supported their freedom of speech and enjoyed they’re providing balance to the overly left mainstream media message with which I’d been inundated.
Since I still marginally thought of myself as a liberal, I wasn’t expecting to hear back from any of them. I was surprised when Andrew Breitbart responded favorably within hours, and honored when he started following me on Twitter. Isn’t he supposed to be a big, evil jerk? I think he’s a total gentleman and a brilliant commentator.
As soon as Breitbart mentioned me on Twitter, I got a new following of conservatives. I expected anger and vitriol when they found out I was a liberal. Instead, every single one of them treated me kindly and encouraged me to learn more about my country and its laws. Every single one. Meanwhile, several liberals attacked me for having supported Breitbart at all.
I only followed Boehlert to read the other half of the Breitbart-Boehlert Twitter war. And I found Boehlert to be a slimy, insincere creep.
That’s when it occurred to me that I wasn’t really a liberal at all any more. In fact, I’d gone over the line and drifted far to the right. Not as far as some, but enough to definitely redefine myself as a proud conservative.
And that’s what this blog is all about. I intend to discuss issues and opinions from a conservative point of view, but I hope to present my arguments in such a way as to appeal to the sensibility of those liberals interested in learning what the “other side” thinks. Granted, there don’t seem to be many, but I was one of them once, and I listened. Hopefully, others will, too.
I doubt I’ll be able to avoid a “sucker punch” against the left now and then. I really don’t like the current administration, and consider Obama downright socialist. But I will try and restrain myself where possible, so my posts will be readable by anyone, regardless of political affiliation.
In return, I expect and invite comments, including rational disagreement. You can express your views strongly, I know I will, but abusive comments will be deleted. This is MY blog. My freedom of speech. I invite you to participate, but if you don’t like it, then go get your own.