"Hi, my name is Anthony, and I'm a recovering conservative".
While I've never actually spoken those words, they are the very words that define the shift in my political ideology that's happened over the last few years. I used to be a proud conservative. I worked the campaigns, attended the rallies, and did everything in my power to ensure whatever conservative candidate was running beat his 'evil liberal' opponent because, after all, the right was right.
That's all changed over the last few years. I no longer feel comfortable defining myself by such a politically and socially charged label. Moreover, I no longer feel comfortable dismissing people and ideas simply because of the political labels attached to them. The fact of the matter is that there are good people and good ideas on both sides of the political isle and I refuse to attack or dismiss any idea based on the political leanings of the person who presents it.
There was also a time when I closely identified with the conservative movement because of their social leanings: conservative, non-progressive, status quo society made sense to me. But then I realized that, many conservatives, use their politics and beliefs as a way to discriminate and exclude. You're a good person if you're white, straight, and Christian, but we're largely not interested in you if you're any color of brown, gay or lesbian, and non-Christian". Again, it's the dismissing of people and ideas based solely on labels and it's just not something I could participate in and keep a clear conscious.
So for a number of years, I've chosen to label myself a 'moderate'. It's a label that affords me comfort in whatever group I happen to align myself with politically or socially. It means I can be as comfortable and accepted at a rally for a liberal Democrat as I am at one for the most conservative Republican. It means I see good ideas in both liberal and conservative thought and that I don't want a society that only embraces one because, more than anything, I want social and political balance.
I do not believe President Obama is the black Messiah, nor do I believe he's the Antichrist. I see good in much of what George Bush did and I see a lot of damage and death because of him as well. I believe everyone has ideas and policies that fail miserably as well as those that make them a hero.
I've been toying with writing this post for a few days now and a friend asked why I felt the need to do so. I suppose it's because we live in such a politically charged environment, I wanted to let others know that it's OK not to pick a side and be fluid in your thinking. It's OK to agree with the Republicans on one thing, the Democrats on another, and neither on yet another. That fluid, pick the best from everything and put it together to form a whole, way of thinking is one of the things that makes this country great.
And I refuse to allow Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, or Rachel Maddow to tell me what I should think or why I should think it.
I choose to make up my own mind free of political ideology.
I see the value of all thought and every idea.
I am a moderate.