On Being a Liberal Suffering From Conservative Episodes

On Being a Liberal Suffering From Conservative Episodes


I’m a pretty liberal person. I grew up with a lesbian pastor and parents who earnestly campaigned for an opera hall to be built in lieu of a new Vikings stadium. When I was six, I lovingly embraced a tree for 20 minutes, tears soggifying my pink velour overalls, as exasperated laborers waited to remove the rotting ash trunk from my back yard. I was the girl on campus who, three lattes deep and donning a “yes we can!” button, shoved a clipboard stocked with voter registration cards in your face when you just wanted to get to the library.

But as I get older, I’ve begun to experience an occasional, unfamiliar reaction to bits of political news—a conservative one. For instance, the other day I was reading a story about whether or not prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Aurora shooter James Holmes, when my brain exploded. “Oh sure, waste more precious taxpayer dollars to let that shit-muncher hang out forever in a cozy cell eating saltines and taking regular hot showers. Are you freaking kidding me!? Dust off the electric chair! END THE MOTHERFUCKER!”

These conservative episodes aren’t limited to issues involving mass-murderers. When I see protesters lobbying to halt a business venture because it might temporarily alter a natural landscape, I think, hey, it’s a free country! I’m not attacking your co-op for making that hill look different with your soybeans and your quinoa or whatever. Industry equality!

Bursts of right-leaning energy seem to run in my family. My dad is a lifelong Democrat who doesn’t mind paying a little extra in taxes to support human services, despises firearms, and claims he’ll “definitely toke up again once it’s legal.” He also hates abortion. I was chatting with him about my sporadic conservative impulses, particularly towards the free market, and he suggested, “Maybe you’re only a social liberal.”

But I’m not always liberal on social issues, and I’m not even close to fully conservative on fiscal topics. I support ample education funding, high annual payments to local governments, and comfortable budgets for social services. And yet the feeling of my hands wrapped around a cool, 9mm pistol gives me a feeling of excitement in my mommy-daddy-no-no-place. I believe in the draft, and think women should be part of that lottery. And I think everyone who lives in the USA should speak English.

I work in the political sphere, so I blame my constant exposure to both sides for my newfound Republican urges. It’s easy to be liberal or conservative when you only surround yourself with left or right-wing literature, groups and friends. But when you’re required to talk to both sides every day, it’s easier to admit that Rep. Reagan Bush R-Murica actually has a damn good point even though her voter registration has a different letter attached to it than yours.

It’s not really about tallying up how you feel about different issues and declaring the party with the most check marks the winner of your political allegiance. Defining your ideology comes down to values. Values like the freedom to say whatever I want, to anyone, anytime, or my belief that God exists, or the apparently radical idea that everyone should be able to get married. And even though I’ve developed some conservative tendencies, I know I’ll always be that flier-toting, free-range chicken chomping commie I was in college. There may be an elephant in my room, but I’m still a total ass.

Natalie Berkley

Photo by Joe (Creative Commons)