Recovering from Conservatism
The Ups and Downs of Navigating the Change
“Who are you voting for?” my mom asked over the phone one October afternoon. I bit my tongue. I had been avoiding this conversation for weeks. “Your dad and I are voting for Trump.”
My guts rolled internally. “I don’t know who I’m voting for yet, but I know I’m not voting for him,” I managed to say.
“Why not? Your dad and I are thinking of the Supreme Court justices he will appoint. That’s really important,” my mom insisted.
“I just can’t mom. Not after all the horrible things he’s said about my students,” I said, rather emphatically, thinking of my Hispanic and Muslim students. I knew I couldn’t face my students the day after the election if I voted for Trump (never mind the fact that I wasn’t planning on it either).
I grew up in the midwest in a very conservative family. I love them dearly. It really set the tone for who I was and who I am today. We were a very religious family as well, spending every Sunday and Wednesday at church. My childhood was really wonderful, and I am so thankful for the way that I was raised.
In high school, I felt very strongly about the conservative views on pretty much everything. I was anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-you-name-it. I went to worldview camps and learned how to argue and defend the faith and the conservative point of view (read: win arguments and not engage in intelligent conversations). Looking back, I wish I had learned to listen, rather than to argue. We are such a divided country, and we need to learn to communicate, rather than fight.
We are such a divided country, and we need to learn to communicate, rather than fight.
I attended a Christian college and my steeping in the conservative circles continued, but my foundations began to fracture as I faced difficult questions that I really didn’t have answers to.
Over the last few years, I have seen a definite shift in myself personally, both religiously and politically. Maybe I can point to the rise of Trump as the reason for it. Maybe I could point to my two year stint in China where I was exposed to more things than I could have ever imagined. Maybe I can point to the death of one of my closest friends who saw suicide as the answer to his struggles. Whatever it was, I found myself in deep crisis.
I began to realize that the conservative point of view really didn’t jive with what I felt and believed inside. I believe so deeply in social justice, and I found myself watching the conservative circles around me simply avoid or push against social justice movements. I found myself having difficult conversations with some of my oldest friends and closest family.
I believe so deeply in social justice, and I found myself watching the conservative circles around me simply avoid or push against social justice movements.
I found myself being challenged based on my Facebook posts and watched as people “unfriended” me on Facebook, distancing themselves from someone they considered had “abandoned the faith.” I can’t even tell you how many days and nights I spent in tears, tormented by the fact that just because my views changed slightly, people immediately decided I was no longer “in.”
It grieved me to begin to shed my conservative roots, because at times, it felt like I was turning my back on everything I was taught to believe. However, I feel like in some ways I have kept some of my conservative roots too. I still have a deep belief in God and my faith really colors the decisions I make and the way I treat other people. When I was growing up, I was always told you couldn’t be a Christian and be liberal. The two didn’t jive. Today, I don’t think I agree with that statement at all.
Over the last few months, I’ve been really settling into my new perspective on life. I’ve gotten invested in politics, campaigning for a party I once hated. I’ve realized that while the party that I align myself with today is different, the person I am has not changed. These views have been part of me since my childhood. I was always one who fought for the little guy. I was always the one who grieved for the poor, the refugee, and the immigrant. I was, in the end, always on the more liberal end of the spectrum, but I never really knew that’s where I truly belong.
I’ve realized that while the party that I align myself with today is different, the person I am has not changed.
I’m a recovering ex-conservative. I’m still in process. There are moments when I still wonder how I got here. There are moments if this is where I should be. there are moments when I wonder if it’s worth the lost relationships and the questions. As with any recovery from anything, we have moments when we struggle, when we question, when we want to give up.
I’m a recovering ex-conservative, and I think I’m right where I need to be.