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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