The Democratic Party's preoccupation with the question of when America will leave Iraq rather than with how America will win in Iraq reminds me of how and why this nearly lifelong liberal and Democrat became identified as a conservative and Republican activist.
I have identified as liberal all my life. How could I not? I was raised a Jew in New York City, where I did graduate work in the social sciences at Columbia University. It is almost redundant to call a New York Jewish intellectual a liberal. In fact, I never voted for a Republican candidate for president until Ronald Reagan in 1980. But I have not voted for a Democrat since 1980.
What happened? Did I suddenly change my values in 1980? Or did liberalism? Obviously, one (or both) of us changed.
As I know my values, the answer is as clear as it could be -- it is liberalism that has changed, not I. In a word, liberalism became leftism. Or, to put it another way -- since my frame of reference is moral values -- liberalism's moral compass broke. It did so during the Vietnam War, though I could not bring myself to vote Republican until 1980. The emotional and psychological hold that the Democratic Party and the word "liberal" have on those who consider themselves liberal is stronger than the ability of most of these individuals to acknowledge just how far from liberal values contemporary liberalism and the Democratic Party have strayed.
Here are four key examples that should prompt any consistent liberal to vote Republican and oppose "progressives" and others on the left.
The issue that began the emotionally difficult task of getting this liberal to identify with conservatives and become an active Republican was Communism. I had always identified the Democratic Party and liberalism with anti-Communism. Indeed, the labor movement and the Democratic Party actually led American opposition to Communism. It was the Democrat Harry Truman, not Republicans, who made the difficult and unpopular decision to fight another war just a few years after World War II -- the war against Chinese and Korean Communists. It was Democrats -- John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson -- who also led the war against Chinese and Vietnamese Communists.
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