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Romney – Ryan 2012

I grew up in a Democratic household. It would be inaccurate to say I drank the Kool-Aid. It’s more like Democratic dogma was the primordial brew in which I was steeped. I watched the Democratic convention every four years with my mom. I even called in and made a pledge one year. I think I was 9 or so. I believed Democrats when they said that Republicans were rich people who only cared about other rich people and Big Business. Their capital B’s, not mine. I did not question, I just believed. My mother was passionate about her party affiliation, and as my interaction with actual Republicans in any meaningful way was minute, I was a happy, hapless young follower, full of my own inherited sense of Democratic righteous indignation.

I did not begin to have any independent interaction with Republicans that was at all meaningful until after I joined the church. I met, for the first time, men who ran large corporations and small businesses of their own. Doctors, and lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The father of one of my friends was the Vice President of Western Airlines. He went on to become the airline’s president. These were men that were hardworking and analytical, mindful of the bottom line, to be sure, but they were also kind and compassionate. And Republicans. Not the bogey men I had been led to believe in.

My allegiance to the Democratic Party at that point was already strained. My new-found religion’s stand on abortion clashed with the Democratic platform. It wasn’t always so. Once upon a time, you could be a Democrat with conservative principles and feel welcome, but once the Democrats made support of  abortion a plank and not a matter of personal conscience, it created a stumbling stone within the party. At that time, I was politically immature and uninformed, and things such as national defense and government spending and taxation were not on my radar screen. I still believed that, as a whole, Democrats cared more about helping others, but I disagreed with abortion advocacy. I justified my ambivalence by saying that I personally did not agree with abortion, but I would rather it be legal and safe so that women would not die from the procedure. (Now that I’m not  17, I understand that we don’t likewise legalize theft so that criminals don’t get hurt by cops carrying guns trying to stop them from stealing.) As far as those nice Republican Mormon men…they must be an anomaly.

As I got older, I began to see that our nation’s generosity through welfare had backfired. Since LBJ’s war on poverty  the number of those living in poverty had not only increased, but we now had a permanent underclass. I persisted in my party affiliation, however, because I still believed that those heartless Republicans would turn everyone out in the street.

Then Rob asked for and received the National Review as a Christmas gift. My poor mother. She is the one that gave it to him. She had no idea the impact that publication would have on me. For the first time I read what conservative Republicans had to say about welfare (instead of listening to what Democrats said Republicans believed). I was now, as a parent and taxpayer, more aware of issues, and, again, I could read actual conservative proposals for addressing the needs of the poor, national defense, etc…And the disparity between what Democrats said conservative Republicans believed and wanted to do and what those conservative Republicans actually said and advocated was stark. I had been lied to. There could be no other word for it. How could well-meaning people of good intent  so profoundly misinterpret conservative principles and proposals? No, good people with good intentions may disagree with how conservative proposals might work to address the country’s ills, but they would not call Republicans greedy, cold, uncaring, and deceptive.

As I read, I saw that Republicans did care. That they wanted to help, but that they recognized that some “help” doesn’t help. That it makes things worse, that it enfeebles individuals. One day, as I was reading, I heard in my head the words from a popular Mormon musical, My Turn on Earth, “Let me take care of you. I promise if you follow me, not one of you will be lost.” In that moment, I realized that the liberal  methods of helping people led to a loss of agency, that absolute security  destroys personal accountability,  and that it has the effect of crippling the moral fiber of individuals and the nation. I saw and understood with perfect clarity the seductive nature of the promise of absolute security.

It was a revelation for me. And it converted me.

I changed my party affiliation that moment.