I grew up a very right wing conservative in the Maryland Suburbs of Washington, DC. I was actually known as “Mr. Republican.” It helped that I wore a tie as a conservative statement. I also wore a Bush/Quayle button for much of 1992 and carried around Rush Limbaugh’s books. After President Clinton took office, I attached an “Impeach Hillary” button to my backpack. I also had pro-life stickers on my binders and was kicked out of a high school sociology class for wearing a shirt with a fetus on it.
After entering college, I began to feel uncomfortable with my own extremism. I no longer found talk radio very satisfying. However, I was still very much a Republican. I ran successfully to be a vice-president in the College Republicans and I was very excited about the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.
I spent the eight months between my freshman year and leaving on my mission working for a very conservative organization that claimed to monitor the activities of the “liberal media” and “liberal academia.” They were defending the truth against “liberal bias.” I soon realized that the “conservative truth” did not seem so true to me. I started to think of myself as a moderate. I was hopeful when Colin Powell was touted as a presidential possibility. Then I witness first-hand the conservative backlash against him. Their racism no longer could be contained. Conservatism was not for me. Could I still find a place in the GOP? I was not sure when I went on my mission to California in Dec. of 1995.
In the California Anaheim Mission, I worked with Vietnamese immigrants. I was humbled by my struggle to learn Vietnamese. I was also introduced to real poverty. The assumptions I had made about the poor, no longer made sense.
As my prior posts testify, I am now an avid and committed liberal. I practice and advocate liberal political philosophy with a passion. I am also now back in Rexburg, as a political science instructor.
My freshman students are still in shock. Sure, Mormons can be Democrats, the brethren have said as much. But a liberal, that is too much for them. My student assistant was warned by a friend that she was working for a liberal. She laughed because she is also a liberal.
I feel lonely sometimes as an unapologetic liberal in a place like Rexburg, Idaho. However, I would not want to be anywhere else. And I am proud to be a Mormon Liberal Democrat who thinks that Hillary Clinton should be the next U.S. President (you should see the fire in the eyes of my conservative students when they hear me say so).