Great post from the Green Room. It speaks to two conversations I’ve had with two different women on two different occasions last week where each women generally expressed their belief that somehow conservatism is only for the white and wealthy. Um, no.
“How This Ex-Liberal Found Fortitude and Her Way Home”
by Anita MonCrief
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Growing up black and Catholic in the South was an interesting experience that taught me a great deal about people. I believe I spent less than a week in public school before transferring to a private Catholic school and beginning theology classes that still intertwine with my life experience. I remember going to a Baptist funeral and feeling so out of place. The expression of intense emotion was not something that I had ever seen in church, the songs were unfamiliar and the style was foreign to me. Growing up poor in a less than ideal family dynamic led for me to crave order and routine. Some friends often remarked about the order of the Mass or told me that it was boring, but to me it was comforting. I knew what was coming and I was ready. Reciting phrases in Latin or receiving Communion were things I trusted and understood.
Often in interviews I am asked about my conversion from the far left liberal (radical) to the conservative movement and I always think back to first grade. While I had been Catholic all my life, I did not realize it until I went to school. I felt a little lost and very scared. That’s how I feel about blacks and conservatism. I left the church as a young woman, the church never changed but my desire not to live by its rules led me to break free.
Over the years, I have tried and studied other religions but Catholicism is home, and nothing feels like home. As a liberal there was a certain part of me that fought against the world. It was never a fair fight though, because my opinions were set and no amount of proof could change that. As a liberal trying to find her way, I often felt like I was trying on religions again. I didn’t fit in, asked lots of questions and was uneasy about my path. Being lost will do that, only I did not know I was on the wrong path. I channeled that anger at the “system” into art work, I went home at night and tried not to think about the moms living on Section 8 in the “projects” who worried about their kids and still tried to look out for me too. I ignored the feelings of desperation when I talked to my young friends, so full of promise but without an adequate foundation to succeed.
The Democrats seemed to be the answer: social programs, better schools, and politicians who cared. I do think that if I had never seen the other side of community organizing that I would still be blindly following along that same path. Being a conservative gives me hope, and peace. While it has not been easy, I decided to start with what made me love America as a child – its history and Constitution- and go from there. Friends who are still radicals rail at me for loving a country that enslaved us, and I tell them I don’t. I love a country that had the guts to stand up time and time again and right a wrong. A country that is not afraid to pick itself up and start again.
The media, think tanks and leftist organizations paint the right as hate mongers and I believed it for a number of years. Going to events like the Defending the American Dream Summit this past weekend continues to enlighten me. I find warm, regular people who have traveled and taken time off to be there. It was not a gathering of paid hacks, or reporters patting themselves on the back for Van Jones. Moms, dads, nurses, doctors, bloggers and people from all over America, discussed the state of our country and their fears for the world their children would be inheriting.
Comparing it to a leftist conference I went to in 2007 I was amazed at how helpful and open the staff and sponsors were. No egos here. Tim Phillips went out of his way to accommodate those of us who ended up in the overflow room after an expected surge of attendees. The next day, I spoke on a panel and was overwhelmed by the support in the room. Conservatives seemed to be more accepting of differences and willing to listen and respond to others without attacking or belittling them.
Putting political ideology aside for a moment, I will tell anyone that there has been a certain amount of inner peace that I have never had before and I have noticed more harmony in my family. For the first time in my adult life I can honestly say that I am not at war with myself or the world. I never knew that by changing my political beliefs that I would find my faith, change the course of my life and end a self destructive pattern of victimhood.