How The New New Left Turned Me Into a Conservative Against My Will
As a precocious child of eight and then nine who idolized Kurt Cobain and Thomas Jefferson, I was a conservative living in Connecticut, because my parents were conservatives. Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign changed that for me and many others. While my mother stuck to her guns, my father and most sensible non-religious people of the Rockefeller Republican school supported Clinton, because his policies were mostly conservative and he wasn’t infected with the backwards ideals of evangelical Christianity that neocons saturated into American culture. It didn’t hurt that it felt like the market was giving away free money. The 96 election against the likable Bob Dole was an embarrassment to the Republican party. The Democrats looked like an unstoppable force. This is why the Republicans did everything in their power to discredit Bill.
When George W. Bush bankrupted the country with insane spending, wars against the wrong enemies and poorly thought out tax cuts for the rich, the errors of the Republican party were all too clear. Coupled with that, I was very influenced by the media, especially the Fahrenheit 9/11 propaganda and countless other documentaries that showed the immoral corporate structure for what it was, that took pleasure in representing Republicans as incompetent morons taking bribes from oil dictatorships and lobbyists. I was almost unaware of the hypocrisy of the Democrats doing the same thing. Driven by some combination of neoconservatism and Kissinger style globalism, the party I supported was also bought and sold for, obsessed with retarded “morality” (2 Live Crew, heavy metal and violence in videogames), playing chess games and losing them in global warfare.
I read newspapers periodically, but in all honesty, was much more interested in literature, film, music and drugs. I knew I couldn’t change the world in any marked way, so I followed the news when I was in the mood (especially during election cycles) and developed as an individual, a huge egoist who was very proud of the thousands of hours I spent developing my mind through the films of ultra-leftist filmmakers like Jean Luc Godard.
When I was a liberal, it was OK to be entirely selfish. This political stance was an indicator of moral superiority to the homophobic, xenophobic masses that kept Bush in power for two terms. Think of my hero Woody Allen’s personal life.
I began to notice flaws in liberalism in my highly traditional boy school in New York City when I moved there a couple of weeks before 9/11. The Browning School, that graduated figures as diverse as Jamie Dimon, Henry Luce, too many Rockefellers to count and Howard Dean, was bastion of elite neoliberalism (about half our class was conservative, a real oddity in NYC), and still, half the faculty believed in the ideology of multiculturalism. It was the first time I became aware of flawed liberal ideals entering the chambers of what I assumed was the future elite.
There was an inability to look at history without judging the morals of early feminists (complete racists) and Thomas Jefferson (hypocrite lothario slaveowner) so much so that it would impede on our understanding of the actual events of American history, or how government worked. I saw the hypocrisy of this, the desire to group people and divide them in the service of inclusivity and feel a sense of catharsis by acknowledging how horrible the West is. The little work we did learning about lawmaking and checks and balances were clearly relics of the past. I noticed that the faculty had become hypersensitive to the barely existent threat of racism, homophobia and sexism. The teachers casually invited us to protest Victoria’s Secret on the Upper West Side for displays of beautiful airbrushed women and championed the un-American banning of smoking from bars.
As white boys of privilege, it was now our job to apologize for the maltreatment of everyone else throughout history. Never mind I was mostly Jewish, Irish and Eastern European, and thus my ancestors were the oppressed ones in most equations, I was not allowed to take pride in American values. They were the source of social injustice. I’m not lying, I was convinced I was a communist for a month or two, as a fifteen-year-old wearing Gucci loafers, whose main interests were related to glorious decadence. I thought all Republicans were evil racists. The idea had been force-fed. I would beg my Mom and Grandmothers to change parties, “Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11!!!”
When I got to Bard College in 2005, arguably the most liberal university in America, my agnosticism turned to atheism, but I knew myself better. Though I thought I was incapable of predicting my future failures, I found a new confidence and wanted to be great and wealthy, like 70s intellectuals who banged movie stars and drank scotch. I was sort of living that lifestyle by proxy of my much richer friends. Two days in, I was punished for skipping class, by an arrogant albeit talented novelist named Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, with an assignment to write a six-page apology letter saying how my time away from class was spent. It felt like 1984. Something sinister was happening there. I befriended the few people who had no interest in social Marxism, all the team-building and positivity orientation against bigotry, essentially all the precursors to safe spaces and trigger warnings I’m constantly hearing about on TV. Below is an excerpt from the apology.
Annabelle and Paris were in the room with a kid I vaguely knew of from New York named Theo. We talked for about twenty minutes. The conversation commenced on a very shallow level until we started finding our tastes were quite similar and began making each other laugh. Like Paris and Annabelle, we were turned off by the overtly utopian ideals of Bard. We wished we were better people, but found the concept of the Bard world impossible. As the day went on we realized this wasn’t the case. It was OK that the people at Bard are too nice, too clever and essentially embrace their liberal leanings properly, before shutting down the opinions of others.
Writing this in 2005, I, and everyone else in the story is a liberal. Paris, my best friend, tragically died of a drug overdose that I partially blame on his disintegration into moral philosophy. Annabelle, I assume, is still a liberal with some conservative leanings. Theo is a smart liberal, a real prince, and one of my favorite people in the world. If he reads this, he and other people from my past might try and dissuade me from turning to the other side of the party aisle.
I was aware I was living in a bubble, an echo chamber of social Marxism. My agnosticism and curiosity with Buddhism and cultural Judaism were entirely forgotten. I still for the most part supported Israel, but reluctantly, as I again began seeing the victim vs. oppressor narrative everywhere. Watching a documentary on the 60s-counterculture terrorist organization The Weather Underground, we were implicitly being told to champion their balls, free love and innocence. Luckily, my generation was much more apolitical than the current one, because God knows what kind of reasonable people I would have found myself protesting.
With a few exceptions, college was very bad for me. Even my writing suffered at times from its exposure to literary theory, academic writing and classes like Race and Nature in Africa, which I only took because Heart of Darkness was on the reading list. I should have been aware they were going to try and ruin that book for me. I was an apolitical social liberal. I had heard musings that the media had become extremely partisan over the course of the Bush administration, but I thought that was a positive step against a regime that was for Saudi Arabia and against rational thought, stem cell research and social egalitarianism.
The failure of the Bush administration swallowed most would-be conservatives from elite universities into liberals. Neoliberalism, the widespread policy of Thatcher and Reagan that was embraced by Clinton and Blair could not tolerate the Bush era spending and the greed of the big banks who depended on valueless mortgage-backed securities. Then the economy crumbled.
The 2008 financial crisis happened a year before my graduation. Publishing, the field I planned to enter (I wasn’t thinking people would look at my GPA when I failed 4 classes, destroying what would have been perfectly acceptable) looked like one of the first casualties. In order to live in New York, you either had to enter finance, hustle drugs and real estate, or be supported by your parents. I was of the latter category and expected everything would be handed to me.
From time to time I would get writing gigs and take service-industry work, after my dream of working in publishing was killed by my entitled attitude and drug use, which got me fired from Details Magazine just as I was being given real stuff to do the day after my much older girlfriend broke up with me. Without alcohol, I was socially inept. I said very inappropriate things with it. I’m sure I made the people I worked with uncomfortable. With virtually no money and a designer wardrobe courtesy of my father, at night, I was partying with the New York elite at places like The Standard Hotel and The Beatrice Inn. Many of my friends, including famous rock stars and actors and many sons and daughters of celebrities and billionaires thought I was brilliant, but I had no tools to succeed in life. I was a blackout drunk without morality, who felt morally superior to Republicans.
I wanted a politician to save me. While I was later skeptical of nonsense like the occupy movement, I had faith in Obama. I wanted Hillary, but by the time he won the nomination, I fucking loved the guy. He was a young brilliant black man with the same values I was indoctrinated with, who happened to have good taste for a Presidential candidate. The guy loved The Wire and read Joan Didion and Jonathan Franzen advance copies. I ignored his affiliation with Palestine, because I read PLO adviser Edward Said (who Obama had dinner with) on the first fucking day of school at Bard and he didn’t seem as bad as my Dad made him out to be. It seemed clear Obama was going to get us out of wasteful, mismanaged wars in the Middle East, hold Wall Street accountable, bring jobs back and give us Universal healthcare.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, social Marxism has had its turn in the White House for 8 years. As I’ve written about at length, Obama was not the savior of democracy the media paints him as. In spite of this, I blindly supported him, because he was on the surface much better than Bush. I avoided politics, drank and drugged a lot, got sober a few times, had jobs intermittently and did some very good writing that never got anywhere, was even paid to write an unpublished novel.
I was accidentally exposed to conservative values when I started listening to Adam Carolla make right-wing folksy, A Face in the Crowd style arguments from time to time, because I discovered podcasts early. He had guests like Andrew Breitbart, who the left basically equated to Hitler. While I mostly disagreed with him vehemently, I became aware of alternative thinking that was not as stupid, backwards or racist, as I had assumed all contemporary conservative thought was from listening to friends and Bill Maher monologues. The few conservative voices I respected, people like Peggy Noonan and George Will, were in my mind irrelevant relics, likely to shift party allegiance soon enough. Many of this small vocal minority of conservative intellectuals voted for Hillary on 2016.
When I began my studies in education (because I was unemployable), it was clear to me that the state exams tested ideological affiliation more than teaching proficiency. I saw how the left was slowly making conservative opinions unacceptable in society, actual becoming intolerant of some of the decidedly not racist teaching ideologies I preferred to multiculturalism that textbooks still acknowledged as valid. I began to get worried about the imminent dumbing down of the American electorate, that I was too blind to see had already happened.
When I moved to Israel to study and write books and articles on Kabbalah in 2013, American politics went on the back-burner. What could one man without a clear stance do? I became very concerned with Israel and the unjust way the media covered Israel. My blind acceptance of Israel and Obama were on a collision course. My stance became, I am the most liberal person in the world, except for the Israel issue.
In order to not be called a racist, what the BDS was branding as “apartheid” apology, I researched Muslim ideology, movements and governments. It was as fascinating as it was petrifying to someone living in a country bordered by Gaza, The West Bank, Libya, Syria and the slightly less insane nations of Egypt and Jordan. Though I was critical of US intervention in the Middle East in broad strokes, I didn’t really blame Obama much, even though the only person Obama ever stood up to was Bibi Netanyahu.
Admittedly, I knew more about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s kids than I did about the Arab Spring before this research began. When conservatives in Israel and abroad started to thrash my liberal articles making fun of Donald Trump and his obvious lying, I began researching the mostly fake accusations I was getting. I understood his appeal, unlike the mainstream media, who ripped apart the most effective convention speech I had ever seen.
I understood how much people hated Hillary. Watching the debates, I started to hate her and the anti-Semitic high school principal looking motherfucker who she chose as a running mate. This real fear she would lose, forced me to study the foreign policy of the Obama administration and investigate the emails that at first glance seemed like much ado but nothing. I thought I could convince people to vote for Hillary with facts in a post-fact world.
Two days before the election, a little wary of Hillary Clinton’s connection to The Muslim Brotherhood and her collusion with the press, I wrote a long article about Trump’s lying and how facebook, supported by Breitbart, Russia (RT is operated by Russian government) and Assange reporting real and exaggerated faults with Clinton, created an environment wherein Trump could spread misinformation to an enthusiastic base of supporters who would get Trump elected.
After Brexit, I was all but convinced Trump would beat his poll numbers and a few days before the election, when I counted the electoral votes in Trump’s favor courtesy of Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight, he was winning in spite of being way behind in the popular vote. His odds were around 29%, but to me it was a certainty he would win. I wanted to wake up the left to this reality as best as I could and get them out to fight to prevent Trump’s victory that represented the crumbling of the fourth estate as an institutional power. No one thought it was possible.
When I was watching the election coverage, I was shocked to see Trump winning states that even I hadn’t predicted. I noticed something change in me, as I watched the analysts, who by all accounts were supposed to be objective, in shock, clearly angered by the results. What I had heard Breitbart say in 2011 had finally sunken into my skull. Just like coverage of the Iran Deal, the liberal media had built an echo chamber that refused to acknowledge anything positive about Trump or negative about Hillary and it was sickening to me that she was aware of her allies funding Isis.
In the second excerpt from the John Pilger Special, to be exclusively broadcast by RT on Saturday, courtesy of…www.rt.com
I was very confused. I didn’t like Trump most of the time, but I did take pleasure in him skewering the faulty arguments of the left, who were apologizing for the hellholes that some American cities have become and the insistence that the economy was in good shape. And his unapologetic insistence of the clear reality that Putin has outsmarted her and Obama in Syria was refreshing. He could have easily added Crimea to the point. The day after the election, I wrote the following, still considering myself a liberal. I didn’t really care he was lying, because Trump tells the truth even when he lies.
“I was tired of defending Obama and Clinton for accomplishing things like piss-poor healthcare reform and the inevitable step of marriage equality, when the world is shambles. I had a Howard Beale moment and got tired of the bullshit.
It just became so clear to me how backwards and broken our society is. How disconnected we are from each other. How we are lied to both in the obvious conspiracy theory, “Mexicans are rapists,” “Killary Clinton” way and in the way that Obama and Hillary lie to us through omission and cozy relationships with reporters. I’m tired of clear acceptance that legal bribes are part of the political process. Say what you will about Donald Trump, when Prince Alaweed, a Saudi billionaire and big Clinton Foundation contributor rightfully chastised Trump for calling on “a ban on all Muslims entering the country until we figure this thing out,” Trump fought back beautifully in a tweet. “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected.#Trump2016.” Never mind that Trump started his business with “daddy’s money.” He stood up the evil powers that be, without an ounce of shame or apology, and yesterday Alaweed congratulated Trump with his tail between his legs. Maybe this is what our country needs.”
I was shocked no one was willing to give the crazy guy a chance, considering he was a Democrat a few years ago and advocated for a lot of the same things as Bernie Sanders, before asking for the help of both parties in his victory speech. My article was greeted with hate. I kept hearing things like, “How can you support a fascist?” “You know Hitler wasn’t that concerned about the Jews at first?” “The first thing a Dictator does is discredit the media.”
The adverse reaction of the vocal extremists of the left wing has been predictably absurd, but the response of moderate Democrats has been shocking. Not only are perfectly sane people wearing pussy-hats, but they’re concocting wild conspiracy theories that a completely lost press reports on, usually as speculation, but sometimes not. The 17 government agencies agree on Russia’s responsibility for the Clinton hack, though there is no evidence of this. The left is still being played by Putin. It’s hard to blame liberals for believing these assertions, since they’re presented as fact in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Putin wanted nothing more than getting credit for Trump’s victory that proves to his people first and foremost that Russia is strong enough to intervene in US elections. It also doesn’t hurt his argument that democracy is broken and no one is really free.
I can’t really argue with him on that one, as partisanship has destroyed any free flow of ideas. Democrats discredit others, often with the race card. What people see as fascism from Trump has little relation to his policies, which are not really so different from deep state advocate, deporter in chief, Barack Obama, who I have said on many occasions funded Iran and armed Saudi Arabia to make sure the Sunnis and Shias keep funding Isis style terrorism for the foreseeable future. When a party is no longer willing to listen to reason, or acknowledge fault, and is intolerant of opposition, I can no longer support them. I understand this is precisely what people say about Trump, but I’m not talking about one man for a few months, I’m talking about the entire institution of liberalism for nearly two decades.
Jesse Bogner is a twenty nine year old author, screenwriter and journalist. His memoir and social critique, The Egotist, has been translated into four languages. In 2013, he moved from New York City, where he was born and raised, abandoning a decadent lifestyle chockfull of substance abuse, to study Kabbalah in Israel. His work has been featured in The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel. He has been featured in misleading articles from media outlets including CNN, Wired Magazine and others. He is currently writing a novel.