In November of 2008 I was hired by the VC Reporter to write opinion pieces from the conservative perspective. I was 27 years old, with a teaching career behind me, a wrestling coach career still ahead of me, and I had just spent two years working at Nickelodeon as a writer’s and producer’s assistant on numerous popular shows. I also was active in my evangelical church and getting a Masters in English through an intense online program. Ten years later, I’m a different person. I have changed, as all of us do over time. C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” That is the best way to look at my political evolution, which is also why this column will be changing to reflect not just me, but millions of people who have found themselves moving more to a fuzzy center due to the angry and disruptive behaviors of politicians, radicals and the media.
The political landscape has been a landmine of “with us or against us” rhetoric for the past 10 years. President Barack Obama’s promise of hope and change created an angry mob of Republicans hell bent on stopping anything he was elected to do. While the country voted him in twice in decisive victories, the divide still felt too thick to deny. Of course, in 2016, the “quiet majority” voted in Donald Trump. A populist without a political core, he rode a wave of frustration, but split the GOP in two. By 2017, not only was the left shocked that he won, the brightest men in conservative thought were even more distraught. Columnist George Will left the Republican Party, and numerous GOP senators decided to not run again. Meanwhile the tiki torch voices became louder and being linked with the “conservative movement” was no longer an option for me, or many others.
Over the past 10 years I’ve seen myself become more of a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. Let people be free. Preserve the environment. Limit the big banks and corporations. Be ready to fight other nations if needed, but “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
So what I’ve found is that while I’m not a fan of socialist medicine, we must have protection and system for, as Jesus put it, “the least of these.” While I believe in the Second Amendment, we must restrict certain weapons to protect people from themselves. I’m not a fan of war for the sake of war, but as Christopher Hitchens proved with his support of the Iraq War, therefore breaking away from his leftist colleagues, “The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has — from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.” Who wants to be a Sean Hannity or a Lawrence O’Donnell? Being a political party supporter sounds like a bore and too restricting to ever come to real conclusions.
For those who have read me over the years, my road to the middle has been well documented. I don’t fear a Bernie Sanders presidency, I supported Colin Kaepernick’s protest while disagreeing with it, and I was a Never Trumper from the start, throwing support behind Marco Rubio and my political man-crush John Kasich, who he too has moved center-right. I can listen to HBO’s Bill Maher and radio host Dennis Prager and find truth and wisdom in both, just as popular commentators and professors Jordan Peterson and Alan Dershowitz have. I can laugh with Michael Moore, but also acknowledge Dinesh D’Souza’s fears what a hard shift to the left could do in a whirlwind.
So, as we enter 2019, this column isn’t going to just give the conservative angle or the liberal angle, but instead look at the issues we face and really break down the pros, the cons, the good, the bad and the ugly.
The world is changing, and so must I. We must look to real solutions in each era, and not look to the political parties to save us. A politician wants reelection, not necessarily resolution or results.
Therefore, I ask you to join me this new year and not think of America as just red or blue — but as a big, messy, complex purple heart.