Lefty friends keep asking me if — or telling me that — I’m a conservative now. But I’m just a liberal who remembers what they’ve forgotten. I remember what it meant to be a liberal back when I really started to identify as one, back around 2000, during Bush v. Gore, 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq War. Of course, I may just have been gullible. Maybe it meant something different before that and maybe it came to mean something different after. Maybe it’s all just “tribal” signifiers, all just flags and symbols. But if it is, the forgetting must help, and that just isn’t what I’m good at.
“I’m not a conservative; I’m merely nostalgic for the simple politics and moral certainties of a bygone age, which just happens to correlate with my youth!” That’s not being entirely fair to either conservatism or Traldi, but it’s still funny. Lately, these “I didn’t leave the left; the left left me” pieces are becoming popular again, which is at least one thing that hasn’t changed much from the Dubya Bush years. During the Cold War, it was common for defenders of the liberal West to note the simple fact that it was unnecessary to put up walls and guard towers to keep their populations from escaping en masse. Likewise, it might be useful for these agonizers to reflect on why the traffic in these political conversion stories tends to be mostly one-way.