This another of those posts that I've been noodling with for a long time in my head and even a couple months in draft versions. I've passed on perfection, and possibly even coherence. I just need to get this out and off my mind.
When I was 18 years old, I registered to vote. I registered as a Republican. When I was 22 years old and moved to New Mexico, I registered as independent. I continued that independent trend when I registered in Texas three years later. Since then, I have seen nothing that would make me want to register with the current Republican party again.
Over the past several years, I have generally engaged in a political shuffle to the left. As I have grown older, more fiscally successful, I have not drifted right, but instead left. This is not to say I'd call myself a Democrat or a liberal, but merely that I have moved from somewhere right-of-center to somewhere less right-of-center. When I was younger, I thought I was a mild conservative and the Republican party seemed embraceable. By Californian standards, that might have even been true. Fiscal conservatism, personally somewhat conservative, socially moderate (or so I thought) and personal accountability seemed like a passable platform. Oh, how little I knew.
(An aside: Perhaps the political center has shifted more than anything else in the last 50 years. From this admittedly very selective offering of the 1956 Republican Party platform, one must wonder what happened.)
Then I left upper-middle to lower-upper class suburbia. And learned a lot. In a most basic sense, I learned that the world is ugly, oh so ugly, and in many ways and many places. It is not a fair place. It's not like I had never traveled outside the suburban bubble while growing up, but the realization never truly set in. Perhaps I never truly believed it was fair to begin with, but this was made all the clearer to me when I lived outside the Silicon Valley. And the world will never be fair. That's just how it is. People get what they get and we should be honest about that. What they deserve is something else entirely. The concept of fairness is just that, a concept, not a reality.
This concept of fairness troubles me. Well, not the concept, but the perception that some people have that the world is fair, that the system is fair, that our standing before the law is truly equal, that success is only a matter of hard work, and that people get what they deserve. No. They don't. To pretend they do is an insult. I think this is why I have also shuffled, not just away from the political right, but also away from libertarians. Yes, the world could certainly be a nice ideal way. However, it's not that way and to pursue policy under this false assumption is insulting at best, and deceitful and spiteful at worst. We have to accept reality as it is, not as we wish it were, before we can successfully work within it. Like my job, it doesn't matter if we have the best designs and equipment if we're not even at the correct location.
Furthermore, I am incredibly disenchanted with the current level of political discourse in the United States. This is especially true of the right-wing squawkers on platforms like Fox News. However, the left is hardly innocent of trolling and needless sound-biting, but the political right engages in more despicable tactics, lies, race-baiting, hate-speech than I thought people could stomach. But I have apparently vastly underestimated the political value in appealing to the ignorant and hateful of this world. This rolls right into the next point.
Anti-intellectualism is perhaps the biggest long-term threat to America's (and the entire world's) prosperity that we currently face. It is why we cannot have intelligent and reasoned debates on meaningful topics. War on terror? War on drugs? Evolution? Education and basic science research? Financial regulation? Energy policy? Taxation? Why bother when people are so apt to fall back to the often incorrect talking points and anecdotal evidence. It is distressing to see (social) conservatives actively promote this as well through the criticism of universities, scientific processes, and even big words. I'm torn between rage and despair when I think about this and realize that this is an intellectual battle that may never be winnable when the opposition acts like the concept of truth is entirely malleable.
Is this a rant? Perhaps. More than anything though, this is my long overdue goodbye to the political right.