The latest such article I've come across is written by a Keith Thompson of San Fransisco.
I suspect that many people develop relationships and beliefs based on a large part of what the people around them believe. This is of course no great insight but I think it is greatly overlooked by people. The fact is that society, and the politics that govern it, constantly changes while in many ways a lot of people, and the terms used to define them, don't. In this sense, modern conservatives are the inheritors of classical liberal ideals while modern liberals have embraced socialist, or progressive (newspeak for commie) ideals.
As an example, consider that liberals today love to hold John F. Kennedy up as a role model and will often spew out his name as some sort of justification of one of their contemporary policies. At the same time, George W. Bush speaks language, and advances policies, that in many ways is totally indistinguishable from Kennedy's but yet they oppose Bush's policies (not in the general sense but in the particular). So we have these people, who at one point in history identified with Kennedy's ideals, who have drifted away from them and are now opposed to the man who has inherited them.
That is why you'll find people like Keith who wake up one morning and asks himself if he is on the wrong end of the political spectrum. As Keith says:
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.This use of terms to define political ideals is one thing that particularly vexs me. Here in Canada we have the national Liberal Party which in my humble opinion isn't liberal in any real sense of the term. Without resorting to profanity I'd have to classify it as a socialist party. This as well works at the provincial level as in the case of the B.C. Liberal Party would more closely identify with the national Conservative Party (which would be liberal if we stuck to the definition of the terms used in the 50's and 60's). Did any of that make sense?
I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.
When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.
My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.
Anyways, this all gets me to my final questions. First, do people (people not totally plugged into the issues that is) vote based on an outdated definition of the political terms? Second, can people find themselves as members of a political group simply because they haven't seen the politics around them change?