A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

Photo via John-Morgan on Flickr

I’m 31.  When I was in high school (1994-1998) it was right at the time Bill Clinton was being investigated and impeached during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  I don’t remember much about it.  To be honest, I really wasn’t paying much attention.  What I do remember is thinking that Bill Clinton was bad.  Republicans were moral.  Democrats were immoral, irritating, and excusing Clinton’s behavior.  I think this might have been the beginning of my movement to the right.  The political right.

In college, I fell in with a pretty conservative crowd.  Many of my friends were self-identifying evangelical Christians.  Many of them had grown up in both the church and conservative families.  This was not my background.  My parents are Methodist, and they are both social workers.  They tend to lean left in political matters.  One time when I was in college, I was trying to explain something political from my point of view to my dad.  He in turn was trying to convince me that my viewpoint may not be empirically correct or the only side of the story.  Because I was 19 (or so), had a different point of view than my parents, and saw things pretty black and white, I was pretty sure he was wrong and didn’t have much interest in thinking through what he was saying.  After the conversation, he was talking to my mom and said something like, “She has a mind like a steel trap.”

I assume what he meant was that I wasn’t willing to open my mind to let any new ideas into it.  At the time I was sure that he was wrong.  He was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Of course he was wrong.  Wrong, right?

Whenever I didn’t know much about a candidate, I went back to abortion.  If I thought that abortion was wrong and there were thousands of abortions every year I had to vote for the party who was working to prevent that, right?  So, even if I wasn’t quite on board with the Republican’s thoughts on taxes, education, or another issue it somehow came back to black and white and abortion.  Even now as I explain, I’m having a hard time getting it out clearly.  I think at the time it wasn’t nearly as clear in my head as I wanted it to be.  (I got stuck at this point on the post for several days.)  Now, several days later, I still can’t do any better at explaining that thought process than I could then.

Gradually, my views began to change.  First, I started thinking about the death penalty.  I had been in favor of the death penalty, and gradually I realized that I had begun to believe it to be inconsistent with my values.  While I realize there are times in the bible when the death penalty is instituted, I think that there are so many things wrong with the way our society has instituted it, I cannot support it.  From the chances of executing an innocent person to the racial disparity in its use, I have many oppositions to it.  After I changed views on the death penalty, I began to think about other issues.  One by one, I found myself realizing that the core of my being did not believe the views promoted by the Republican party and particularly the Tea Party movement of the GOP.

From the GOP’s movement from a pay-as-you-go philosophy to a cut-as-you-go philosophy to their opposition to any sort of universal health care to their view of climate change, I realized one day.  What the heck!?!?  I am not anywhere near a Republican.  Gulp, in fact, I might be a…Democrat, and my dad might have been right!

I’m not trying to pretend like I suddenly think the Democratic party is perfect.  They have their share of people I’m not thrilled with.  They make decisions I don’t agree with.  They make mistakes.  I’m hesitant to label myself as anything right now, but I have to say my beliefs do fall much further to the liberal side of the spectrum than to the conservative side.

Don’t tell my dad.  🙂


  1. Wonderful post. I think I went through almost the same thing. Even in high school my thoughts were so black and white. Now I realize we live in the gray areas. I have so many friends that still vote only on the abortion issue and I want so much to tell them that the tax, healthcare, and education issues are going to hurt people in their demographic/tax bracket. It becomes so polarizing.

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