15 August 2008

The Defining Moments of Political Ideology

Matt Welch discusses in Reason how he came to question the will of the majority in his latest piece, which is well worth the read and even mentions the late, great, and obnoxious Wally George. There's often moments like this in life, where massive, symbolic events greatly affect your political ideology based on how you experienced it. I'd like to mention an event that I'm sure has affected many people's outlook on politics: 9/11.

I was about to start my senior year at UCLA, and my political beliefs could best be described as a bit nuttier than Ron Paul. I actually thought there was a world-wide banking conspiracy in cahoots with the U.N. to take away my revolver that I planned on purchasing for my 21st birthday. Also, since Clinton has been in office for most of the period where I fomented my political opinions, I assumed there was some kind of tie in with the government and the "librUl" media to defraud the average joe of his hard-earned money through the egregious process of taxation. The irony that I went to a state-funded college was totally lost on me. Anyways, my belief in a righteous, Randroid-style individualism made for some interesting discussions at keggers, but sure as hell wasn't winning over any converts.

But after the smoke from burning bodies was still hanging low over NYC, many of my fellow college students were already protesting against military action (which hadn't even happened yet except for some Carrier groups doing donuts in the Indian Ocean). The local student newspaper was filled with politically correct nausea on "How to Report a Hate Crime" if you were accosted for being a Muslim. This is despite the fact that most of LA's Muslim community was hoping that Osama Bin Laden would get killed in short order. I came to realize the corruption of many elements of the American Left: that endless desire to feel good and self-righteous about one self while not acknowledging troubling realities of the world. Hardly anyone at UCLA was rushing to the recruiting station as a defining moment of a generation, and many just wanted to preemptively condemn any military action or just ignore the rubble in NYC all together.

While events since then have probably changed my political orientation to be a little more leery of just counting on the military for everything, I thought that particular period of time was pretty significant. So, do you have a moment like that in your life, or am I just talking out of my ass?