Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Conversation with an Ex-Liberal at a Meeting of Liberals Anonymous

Liberalism can ultimately be cured.

I first met Ron at the local Liberals Anonymous meeting. That night, there were 25 or so people gathered at the Moose Lodge on Main Street, a dingy and run-down building that used to be a cheap liquor lounge. The windows were all boarded up, painted black. The old Moose sign hung on the side of the building, cracked with peeling paint from years under the hot, desert sun.

This was Ron's first meeting of Liberals Anonymous, having come out from under the fog of his addiction to liberalism long enough to read an opinion piece from the great historian of classics Victor Davis Hanson. Unable to reconcile leftist dogma with leftist practice, he went searching for answers, only to find them among those whom he had disdained and reviled only a few weeks before.

We sat in a darkened room. Bright light frightens most recovering liberals. The evening was warm, the air conditioning making little headway against the thin-walls and boarded-up windows of the old bar. We sat in the main room. The Loyal Order of Moose had set up metal folding chairs in serried rows. A long table dominated the front of the room. Flags hung along the front and pictures of famous Mooses lined the walls. It looked, in all, like a typical conference room.

Stenway Johnson, the local chapter leader of LA welcomed the group. I had been invited as a guest speaker, my objective that evening to cover basic principles of the Constitution and its amendments, answering any questions that the attendees might have.

After the opening formalities, each attendee got the chance to stand up and give testimony about his or her progress recovering from rampant liberalism. Michael, a plain-looking man in t-shirt and sweats, stood up first.

"Hi, I'm Michael, and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Michael," the rest replied.

"It's been 73 days since I rejected liberal dogma." Everyone enthusiastically clapped for Michael's achievement.

He went on. "It has not been an easy road. The other day, I caught myself thoughtlessly turning on the television to watch Bill Maher." A few members gasped. "But I caught myself in time, remembering the first step of recovery: Think for myself. I forced myself to sit down and talk to my wife. Instead of wasting my time with Maher, my wife and I actually had a nice little talk." More applause.

A woman stood up next, tall and slender, about 40 years old. "Hello, I'm Heather and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Heather."

And so the meeting went, each attendee standing to tell her or his story and to lend each other mutual support in recovering from liberalism. Some admitted having an easy time saying goodbye to liberalism, finding newly found strength in their independence from rootless dogmatists. Some, obviously struggled each day, fighting against the lure of easy money welfare systems or unable to grasp simple concepts of a free market economy.

Ron stood up last. I knew this was his first meeting, yet he stood tall and firm. Determination strengthened his face and I saw singular clarity in his eyes. He had discovered and come to grips with the duplicity of liberal thought, and had found the strength of will to reject duplicity in favor of historicity and foundational principles.

"Hi, my name is Ron and I'm a liberaholic."

"Hello Ron."

"I used to like President Obama," he said. "I felt good listening to him. I had hope. I'd been told all of the evil and vile things George W. Bush had done, the war in Iraq, the abuse of power."

No one spoke a word. They had all been there before.

"Then we got Barack Obama in office and I had hopes for change, such high hopes. Yet when I read the news, little by little I came to question the direction Obama was taking the country. Sure, when he was first elected, he was young and new and he needed to find his stride. I could hide the inconsistencies behind the tremendous feeling of pride I had that we finally had someone on our side in the White House."

Nods. Knowing whispers.

"Then, one day, I don't know why, I read an opinion piece by the opposition, you know, the right-wingers. It was by a guy named Victor Davis Hanson. At first, I thought, how pretentious this guy is to have three names. But I continued to read his works, and then I started to understand what he was saying."

Ron paused. "Hanson talked about things that Obama had said that weren't true, things about Obama's great-uncle supposedly did in World War II. He talked about how Obama made Muslims sound like they single-handidly saved Western Civilization. He talked about how civil rights were granted to Blacks without bloodshed."

"And I thought to myself, what about the Civil War? What about Martin Luther King getting assassinated? What about Malcom X?"

"I started looking at the things the President Obama had been saying around the world. Things that didn't sound like he was very proud of America or what a great country we live in."

"I started looking at what he's done here in the US, how much money he's spent and how bad the economy still is. My family all lost their jobs to the housing market crash. All I hear about it is how much liberal economics is going to help."

"But it hasn't. We've all had to go out and get jobs doing whatever we can to support ourselves."

Ron went on with his disillusionment and his eventual enlightenment into a different way of looking at the world, one in which he was not a victim but a player. One in which he could master his own destiny instead of hoping for change that wasn't coming.

I spoke with Ron after the meeting. We went down the street to a quiet Mexican food restaurant and had some grilled beef tacos and a couple of Mexican bottled Cokes. He told me of the hope he had for the future, now that he saw a clear path toward a better way with clear goals and a solid foundation built on constitutional principles. He wondered if he would ever slip back into the self-pity and victim status of his old liberalism.

I reassured him that I and others like me were there for his support and encouragement. We would all rise together to build a better future for ourselves and for our children.

One day at a time, brother. One day at a time.