Friday, April 2, 2010

Allow Me to Introduce Myself...

It has occurred to me that many of the readers of this blog ("many" being a relative term, of course) haven't a clue who I am (many don't have a clue about Ward, either, but I'll let him tell his own story). I'm going to indulge myself in this post and explain how I came to be a political conservative (it was a long and winding road) and also, because it is fundamental to how I see everything in the world, I'm going to share my faith.


I became a Christian when I was seven years old. In evangel-speak I trusted Christ as my Savior, I was born again, I let Jesus into my heart (I actually NEVER say that last bit, but some folks do). I remember the moment like it happened yesterday: it was at a Sunday evening church service at Bay Ridge Baptist Church in Seminole, Florida. I was there because I'd been attending Pioneer Girls (a church version of Girl Scouts) with a friend and we were being awarded our merit badges. I was up front with all the other Pioneer Girls and the pastor, Donald Swartz, was closing the service. He gave an invitation, as so many pastors do, and asked if there was anyone in the congregation who wanted to go to heaven when they died. I was seven, but I wasn't stupid-- of course I wanted to go to heaven. So I slipped my hand up. He asked me to come forward; I was too scared to go alone so I asked the girl next to me to come, too. Much to my dismay, he told her to go sit back down.

He and his wife, Grace, took me into his office. I knew Mrs. Swartz because she was the Pioneer Girls leader. They shared the gospel with me and I prayed the miraculous prayer and was at that moment and forever after changed. My knowledge was minimal--but I knew I wanted to go to heaven, I knew I couldn't get there on my own, and I knew that Jesus was the only way to attain that amazing and everlasting life. I was His and He was mine and while I have tried very often to run away or ignore Him, He has always brought me home. He is faithful.

I attended that church and a nondenominational "Bible" church for most of the next twenty or so years. My political views--to the extent that I had any--tended to be moderately conservative. Politics did not interest me, though, and I mostly believed what others told me.

I turned 18 in the summer of 1976; my first vote in a presidential election was for Gerald Ford because he seemed like a very nice man and I thought he should have a longer chance to be president.

In 1980 I voted for Jimmy Carter (I know, I know--it gets worse!) because I thought he seemed like a very nice man and should have a longer chance to figure the whole economy thing out.

In 1984 I do not remember voting. I never liked Ronald Reagan, though, so I MUST have voted for Mondale. It would have been a vote against Reagan, of course; I always thought he was a phony.

In 1988, continuing my unbroken string of voting for the losing candidate, I voted for Michael Dukakis. No real reason that I can remember. I just felt more like a Democrat than a Republican.

By 1992, however, I was starting to pay attention. I was in grad school, considered myself a socialist, and proudly voted for Clinton. I remember listening to one of his State of the Union messages in which he spoke about universal health care. The phone rang as soon as the speech was over and one of my fellow grad students and I almost exploded with excitement! It was all so WONDERFUL! Finally there was someone in power who understood our values and could see what was important! Finally the country was going to see the light and a whole new era of social justice (and unicorns and rainbows) would commence!

We were very disappointed with how that whole thing turned out.

In '96 I voted for Clinton, of course.

But a funny thing happened between 1996 and 2000. First, in the early 90s I had started hanging out in a conservative online forum. It was called Townhall and was created by the Heritage Foundation (it might have been in conjunction with some other group, too, but I don't recall now). I went there for only one reason: price. Those were the days when you were charged by the hour for being online and nobody could afford to be on for long. Townhall (on CompuServe) was one of the first venues to offer unlimited service for one flat monthly rate. I went there so that I could chat with my friends; the fact that it was a conservative political site didn't faze (or interest) me.

Something significant happened while I was there, though. I started to read some of the articles and bulletin-board discussions that abounded. I was confronted with some uncomfortable truths regarding my embrace of socialism (or just the political ideology of the left). I realized that while I wanted GOOD things for people, the policies that worked best and helped the most people were the uncomfortable but realistic ideas of conservatism. Slowly, unwillingly, I began to drift right.

By the time of the election between Al Gore and George Bush, my heart was still on the left. One thing HAD firmly changed in me, however--I had become pro-life. Ardently so. A conservative had confronted me about my pro-choice position, had asked me some questions I simply could not answer, and suddenly I found myself faced with two options: agreeing that it is okay (simply "a choice") to kill unborn children or to acknowledge that it is, perhaps, the most despicable thing that a society can allow. I looked at my child and knew that never again could I vote for a pro-abortion candidate for any office in which that might matter.

So the election of 2000 was a very strange one for me. I voted for Bush because of his pro-life bona fides but when the election was held up for days I found myself hoping that Gore would pull it out. That way I could have the "best" of both worlds--a Democratic president while still voting my conscience.

By this time, however, the slide was irrevocable. Almost every day I was faced with evidence that the policies of the left--well meaning though they may have been--created scores of problems and wreaked havoc on the very people they were intended to help. Johnson's War on Poverty, for example, decimated the black family. The simple policies of the right (allow people as much freedom as possible to make their own choices; the best way to improve the lives of people are policies that help businesses prosper because it is only through meaningful employment that people can ultimately take charge of their lives; the government exists to protect and defend and is at its best when it governs least) are not sexy or glamorous but they have the undeniable aura of success about them.

I became a full-throated conservative. And with the embrace of these ideas came a sense of urgency about explaining them to others. I began to write about them in my blog (just a casual affair covering everything from baseball to what I had for breakfast).

In 2004 I proudly voted for Bush; in 2008 I less-than-enthusiastically voted for McCain. You see, I have never considered myself a Republican. I'm a conservative. It's true, of course, that the Republican Party more often reflects my ideas and values, but I never felt any special affinity for the Republican label (I'm a registered Republican, however). McCain, of course, was never a good fit as a conservative candidate but the alternative was unspeakable and I will never let the perfect be the enemy of the good in politics. I am very much a realist.

After the health care evil was voted on a couple of weeks ago, however, I have been on a Republican tear. Politics is often described as the art of the possible, after all, and the mission between now and November is to get as many Democrats out of office as possible.

I decided to revamp my blog with a new name and a new focus. I read voraciously and my idea was to act as a sort of clearing house for articles or blog entries or videos of note. Folks who don't have the same amount of time that I do could come around, check out my links, and be a little more informed regarding some of the subjects currently in the news. Along the way I "met" Ward. We have never been in the same zip code and I think we've only talked on the phone twice (there might have been a third call, but I don't really remember). He is the friend of a friend and we found one another on Facebook.

If you draw a Venn diagram of my interests and opinions and Ward's interests and opinions, there would be a LOT of overlap. And all of the truly important things would fall into that shared area. Still, we are quite different folk with quite different lives and the perspective that he brings to the party will be a valuable one for me.

I now attend a Presbyterian church (my embrace of reformed theology in many ways mirrors my slide from socialism to conservatism). I'm an ardent believer in reformed theology and because it informs, well, just about everything, I will write about it from time to time. The main focus here, though, is politics and while I'll write about nonsense now and then because I'm still ME, I want to make that the raison d'ĂȘtre of this blog.

As for the personal stuff--I've been married to the same guy, Bruce, for 33 years. We've got one amazing son, Alex, who will graduate from Auburn Montgomery in December with a degree in finance. We've lived in Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, and are now firmly ensconced in the Bible Belt, the Heart of Dixie: south-central Alabama. I have an accounting degree and worked in that field for a number of years. I completed the coursework for a PhD in organization studies but a funny thing happened along the way--I found out that I don't want to be a college professor. So--no comps, no dissertation. No PhD. I'm a writer, an editor, and a corporate trainer (I do sales training for a client who provides home respiratory supplies). I travel a LOT for work (I spent over 100 nights in hotels last year). My great passion is Yankees baseball. Once I'm done making tuition payments for Alex, I would like to earn a master's degree in theology. I stumble far more often than I should but I never forget that I am only a sinner, saved by grace.

I hope you'll stick around for a bit and let us evolve into a useful site. I hope you'll participate by leaving comments. Thanks for being here now, though.

3 comments:

  1. All very nicely said (as usual) and I find not a jot to disagree with.
    Linden Swift

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  2. Nice to know you! I am trying to catch up with all the posts. I just got to this one. I think we are nearly the same ZIP Code as well!

    I know Ward, but I don't know you, so I loved reading this post. Knowing you came from a religious and socialist background means that we have a lot of common ground.

    I am just now graduating undergrad at Creighton with a major in theology. I consider myself an ultra liberal socialist, so I guess I am a lot like you were in college.

    I hope we get to have some fun arguments on the blog, but remember that we aren't all that different. We both want what is best for people!

    Nice to meet you.

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