Marty Beckerman, author of the disinformation book Dumbocracy: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right, and Other American Idiots, wrote to us about his confessional essay in Salon.com, saying, I have wanted to write this article for half a decade, and it feels great to finally see it published. Let’s spend a few minutes on the couch together; you might learn something about yourself too…
Every day I wake up with the same thought: “I used to be such a goddamned idiot.”
I am a former Republican. And I wasn’t merely the libertarian, live-and-let-live, fun-at-parties kind of conservative whose primary concern is balancing the budget; I was a spiteful, narrow-minded, fire-breathing paranoid lunatic who questioned the patriotism and morality of my liberal fellow citizens. Recognizing the error of my ways has done wonders for my mental health but left me with constant, unremitting remorse; I really want to go back in time and kick my own ass.
Surely I am not alone: Earlier this year independents sympathized with Democrats two-to-one over Republicans, whereas they were evenly split five years ago; a slim majority of young voters voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004, but nearly 70 percent chose Barack Obama in 2008, the widest margin in electoral history. Traditionally people shift rightward as their bank accounts expand and their flesh wrinkles, but my generation is seemingly the first to move leftward with age.
Actually, I was a passionate liberal when I entered college in September 2001, and I initially resisted the GOP’s post-9/11 fury and propaganda. I decried the suspension of habeas corpus and the 2003 Iraq invasion and feared for our country when dissent was equated with treason in the popular imagination. And then a few things happened:
• A handful of my friends joined the College Republicans. As our drunken nights accumulated — with Fox News always in the background and a stack of vitriolic books cracked open — I found myself questioning my assumptions. Craving the acceptance of my peers like any other insecure college kid, I gradually accepted their self-reinforcing groupthink, slowly but surely inching toward the Dark Side.