I was a flaming conservative from my senior year in high school and the first two years of college. Fred Schwarz, an Aussie whose organization was The Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, wrote a book called You can Trust the Communists…to be Communists. Catchy title, very popular with conservatives.
I became a conservative when I read Ayn Rand‘s last novel, Atlas Shrugged. Until I read that book, I had no idea what Rand’s politics really were. The Fountainhead had a lot to say about individualism but praising people for thinking for themselves is hardly the conservative agenda. My whole family was left-wing liberal/socialist. It was shocking to be confronted with the preachings of the Devil, which is what right-wing ideology seemed to be. But a political position held de fault could hardly hold up against a well-reasoned argument in favor it its opposite. I became intellectually convinced of Ayn Rand’s ideology/philosophy. Over the years, I refuted those ideas. I re-read Atlas Shrugged many times. I think the test of good writing is the ability to re-read their creations multiple times without boredom. Every time, I read Atlas, I got something new from it. The real test of good writing. Unfortunately for Rand’s ideology, the new stuff I got from repeated reading was discovering the flaws in her argument(s). My rebuttals are available mostly on my Soapbox blog: Social Darwinism of Ayn Rand, My Critique of Adam Lee, Individualism and Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Story, Ayn Rand the Snowflake.
So I got involved with conservative politics and, when Dr. Schwarz’s class was announced, I immediately signed up. I hoped to save money by showing up the day the class started instead of the night before. Did me no good since I was still charged for the prior day anyway. I showed up at night. I was in a room for four. My roomies were asleep and I quietly prepared for bed as well. I woke before the others and went downstairs to find some breakfast. I choose a little hole-in-the-wall kinda place. I ordered eggs sunny-side-up and french fries. The waitress, who had an attitude, told me they don’t serve french fried but they serve home fries. I had the home fries which were delicious.
I went back to the hotel and met my roomies. They are just what one would consider wholesome all-American girls. The class was entertaining. Fred Schwarz was an engaging speaker. He had a guest lecturer, none other than Herb Philbrick, author of I Led Three Lives. After the class, we all got the opportunity to get our books signed. When it was my turn, Philbrick asked me about the origin of my name and discovered that I was Jewish. He apologized from not mentioning any Jewish anti-communists in his talk which struck me as condescending. As if I represented a whole demographic instead of myself.
Since I lived in New York for most of my early life, I had occasion to visit Washington D.C. a number of times. It was just a bus ride away. The above described visit was my first. Since then, I went to D.C. as a left-wing protester, mainly on anti-war issues. Most recently, I went there from California, to attend a rally against the Tea Party led by Cenk Uygur who used to have a show on MSNBC. I didn’t eat any home fries on that trip but I got a nice t-shirt about taking the Tea Party back to Wonderland.