For most of my life, I identified as a Republican, that is, until several years ago. Did I switch to the other side and become a Democrat? No, not by a long shot, but I have been on an interesting, eye-opening journey.
Up until a few years back, if my husband and I were in the car we were listening to conservative talk radio. I listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and the like for years and years. One day, however, as I was listening to Rush, he made a snide comment about the Catholic Church. He was speaking about the pope and making a very wrong assumption about the role of the pope in regards to the Catholic Church. Immediately, I knew what he was saying was wrong, because as a convert to Catholicism, I used to spout off the same untruths. Just like Rush, in my pre-Catholic days, I never really took the time to learn the truths of what Catholics actually believe and thought I knew better than they did.
Driving in my car, I remember distinctly thinking for the first time, “He’s wrong. Not only is he slightly wrong, he’s dead wrong and millions of people are believing what he is saying. What else is he wrong about?” It was an awful feeling to think that about someone who I had regarded for so long as someone who always sought truth. I felt very let down and, in a way, a little disillusioned. So, I decided to take a break from talk radio for awhile.
Around this same time, I was home for a visit for the summer and my brother and I were standing in the kitchen at my mom’s house. I don’t really remember what the conversation was about but it had to do with political parties and my brother said, “I’m a Christian first.” His words stuck with me like glue. My husband happened to overhear my brother say that and it was a topic of discussion for us for a long time. My brother’s comment forced me to ask myself some tough questions.
Do I put my political party before my religion?
Do I seek truth in matters of politics or do I just get spoon fed stuff from “my side” and eat it up dutifully?
Do I invite Christ into every aspect of my life, including American politics?
To add to all that, my husband and I decided to forgo t.v. unless we were watching a movie or our beloved Wildcats play sports. I stepped back from a lot of things that were sources of information for me during this time and just put everything to the side. I needed to really and truly think for myself for just a moment. I needed a breather and I needed to read. I read like never before and I explored my thoughts like never before. It was a time of great awakening for me.
At the suggestion of one of my favorite high school teachers, I started reading news from around the world. It’s very interesting to see how the world views the United States. I can hardly stomach American media outlets anymore. In the pursuit of truth, I force myself to watch or read both sides. If I read Fox, I’ll read CNN to see what they say about the exact same topic and every single time the biases are glaringly obvious. I try to digest it all and then critically think about what the truth of the matter is. It’s an exhausting, time-consuming effort, but it must be done.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that the conservative party from my youth is different, or at least seems very different, from what it is morphing into today. Last year, during all the election stuff, I was talking with several people who were conservatives. The thing that was talked about over and over again was money. Money, money, money. They were confident that Trump would bring about a strong economy. He very well may, but my first and biggest concern is the right to life. One person said to me, “Sure, that’s important, but it’s a secondary concern. We need a good economy.”
To which I said, “If we, as a country, do not value the right to life at all stages as the most important thing, than nothing matters. If life doesn’t matter, than money means nothing. You can have all the money in the world, but if your life isn’t valued, so what?”
They just shrugged their shoulders and said that it wasn’t the biggest topic.
I’ve noticed this trend now with conservatives to not really care about abortion or the right to life. Money is the only thing that matters. Tomi Lahren, a popular “conservative” Blaze tv personality, totally shocked fans when she announced that she was pro-choice on The View. The radical right Breitbart news outlet is money obsessed and, quite frankly, hate-filled. Any message, from any side will fall on deaf ears with me if it is bitter, illogical, raging, crass, or lacking of consistency and rational thought. Here in Las Vegas, there is a conservative talk show guy who calls himself “W.A.R.” All he can think about is the economy and money. I get it: Jobs, money, the economy, they are all important, but not THE most important thing.
So, I decided last year to be an Independent with regards to politics, but actually, all I really care about is being Christian. I want my identity as a Christian to be my gauge for all things in life: What movies I watch, what comes out of my mouth, what books I read, how I raise my kids, the values I should be most concerned with, what virtues I need to work on, and how I vote.
It’s actually freed me, because I am able now to look very closely at both sides to see their motives, their biases, and their truths or untruths. The road that conservatism has taken is one that I struggle to identify with, not because I’ve abandoned my core principles, but because they have. I also don’t have to defend their bad behavior just because they are on “my side.” I’m free to criticize and analyze. For all of my adult life, I’ve been unimpressed with the leaders of both political parties. I don’t see a lot of integrity, charity, humility, wisdom, and I most definitely don’t see a servant’s heart. I wanna be inspired. I want to be lead by someone who seeks truth, knows God intimately, values life, loves their country, and gets up everyday realizing that there is always something they can do to be better. Maybe I’ll get to vote for that person in my lifetime, but until then, I’ll pray that, we as a country, seek what is right, good, just, and true.