A truly must-read piece, particularly for my dear brethren who may identify themselves as Republicans, or have a deeper affinity for the ideals upon which that party ostensibly represents.
This story resonates rather deeply with me, as I came from a similar enough background as the writer, and was imbued with the same ideological sympathies and beliefs. As I grew older, I was fortunate enought to be blessed with enough capacity for a certain amount of openess and interest to the world, and the opportunity to explore and engage with it more fully. This helped prevent those initial ideas and inclinations (and indoctrinations) from congealing into a type of ideological rigidity, one which would have inevitably (and to a certain extent did) restrict my own awarenessess of how and why the world works the way it does. I am today much, much more interested and concerned about the effects that actions and beliefs have on real people in the real world. This is regardless of how disdainfully dismissive people like Karl Rove and his GOP followers are of trying to understand and operate in that “reality-based community”.
I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics. But I am a Republican no longer.
Was it to protect our Republican version of “individual responsibility”? That notion is fundamental to the liberal Republican worldview. “Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed. But I had assumed that bootstrapping required about as much as it took to get yourself promoted from junior varsity to varsity. It turns out that it’s more like pulling yourself up from tee-ball to the World Series. Sure, some people do it, but they’re the exceptions, the outliers, the Olympians.
The enormity of the advantages I had always enjoyed started to truly sink in. Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal. For the first time, I found myself paying attention to broken eggs rather than making omelets. Up until then, I hadn’t really seen most Americans as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming, hurting people. My values shifted — from an individualistic celebration of success (that involved dividing the world into the morally deserving and the undeserving) to an interest in people as people.
In order to learn more — and to secure my membership in what Karl Rove sneeringly called the “reality-based community” — I joined a social science research institute. There I was slowly disabused of layer after layer of myth and received wisdom, and it hurt. Perhaps nothing hurt more than to see just how far my patriotic, Republican conception of U.S. martial power — what it’s for, how it’s used — diverged from the reality of our wars.
An old saw has it that no one profits from talking about politics or religion. I think I finally understand what it means. We see different realities, different worlds. If you and I take in different slices of reality, chances are that we aren‚t talking about the same things. I think this explains much of modern American political dialogue.
My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality. To preserve that worldview, I had to believe that people had morally earned their “just” desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn‚t actually work that way. I think this shows why Republicans put so much effort into “creat[ing] our own reality,” into fostering distrust of liberals, experts, scientists, and academics, and why they won’t let a campaign “be dictated by fact-checkers” (as a Romney pollster put it). It explains why study after study shows — examples here, here, and here — that avid consumers of Republican-oriented media are more poorly informed than people who use other news sources or don‚t bother to follow the news at all.”
Waking up to a fuller spectrum of reality has proved long and painful. I had to question all my assumptions, unlearn so much of what I had learned. I came to understand why we Republicans thought people on the Left always seemed to be screeching angrily (because we refused to open our eyes to the damage we caused or blamed the victims) and why they never seemed to have any solutions to offer (because those weren’t mentioned in the media we read or watched).
Read the complete, and rather profound confessional from a recovering Republican, Jeremiah Goulka, Here.