So once again, I am not a conservative. I don’t even know if I would be considered right-wing. The people at YCT do not consider me right-wing or a conservative. I think the reason I was in Turning Point USA for a while was that I bought into the false binary of the American political spectrum. Now, I can see the nuance of both sides on certain topics. I also understand that both political parties are kind of trash (though politicians I like or am interested in are members of both parties). So, I do not understand why people join the University Dems or the College Republicans. Do not get me wrong, I can understand supporting some of the policies that Bernie Sanders has been advocating for years, but joining the DNC because of it is dumb to me— just like joining the RNC because you like Rand Paul is also dumb to me. As a former leftist and former conservative and now liberal/libertarian fence-sitter (according to my political compass), I feel like I have learned a lot from hanging out with conservatives.
One thing I learned is that I am kind of a decentralist. Some of the YCT members wanted a theological monarchy— which I thought was insane. Not that I do not believe in God, but more that I also believe in liberty. I can understand some of their worries about modern society–such as how some people in the federal government are advocating for “gender-affirming care” for minors–but I was also not a fan of Texas’s so-called “bounty hunter” abortion ban, because I think it will lead to some tragedies. Not that I have a stake in the abortion issue; I do not care either way and, after seeing some of the ways abortions are performed, I can kind of see where some people on the right of the issue are coming from, but I’m not convinced. Either way, I can see the need for decentralization because of things like this. If Abbot was President and Texas’s upper and lower house was the Congress, the law would spread across the country (unless SCOTUS shot it down). However, if the federal government was just a loose collection of states, this would not be as big an issue. The centralization of power, whether it be by corporations or by the federal government, has caused problems. In addition, as the federal government and corporations begin to merge, I think we are heading to an authoritarian-like state. However, I do not believe (national) conservatives are any different from the left, as they both want centralization of power but want to use it for different ends. As I said before, even if “live and let live” leads to the destruction of society, it is fine as long as people have liberty. However, a conservative I met recently opened my eyes to a rational form of collectivism.
So, I’m talking to this former atheist (apparently they exist, who knew) and he told me that he did not believe in individual rights despite acknowledging the reality of the individual. It did not make sense to me, but I told him that I do not believe I owe the world something and despite believing there is a God, I am here and I was going to do whatever I wanted. I told him that I believe that if I adopted this collectivist mindset I would lose myself and my individuality. He then explained that collectives work like a 1/x graph, where your obligation to someone is inversely correlated to distance between you. The closer someone is to you, the more you owe that person. He explained to me that I owe my family more than I owe my community and that I owe my community more than I owe a random person. As a decentralist, I could understand that mindset. I can understand why I would owe the people of Texas something more than I owe the United States.
Since the pandemic began, I have been thinking about how, with the different philosophies of how the states handled Covid, a national healthcare system might do more harm than good. I thought maybe having 51 different socialized systems might be a better answer (50 states and Puerto Rico,). [editor’s note: apparently DC doesn’t get healthcare, serves them right] Not that this would be a good solution; I’ve already written about the broken healthcare system, and I doubt this would fix those problems. However, I would prefer state-run healthcare to a national one that social democrats want. I think there is a conversation to be had about that, but, first, we need to fix the current system. The conversation with the conservative did not change my political views, but it was an interesting philosophy. While I am an individual, there are some things I cannot do alone, and I cannot pretend that the world owes me something. Rather, I should try to care for the people around me instead of trying to force an ideology on the rest of the country or the world.
Another thing that conservatives have shown me is that filter bubbles are WAY too toxic. Spending too much time with people on the American right and watching Tim Pool caused me to look at more leftists online. As a result, I started occasionally watching Destiny–a former conservative turned social democrat political streamer. I think Destiny is smarter than me, but he is incredibly naive about certain things like modern American culture. I have seen him debate people on the right and he has valid criticisms (mostly because some of these right-wingers are like how I was when I was in TPUSA). I find him to be an anomaly because, unlike other leftist streamers, he does not whine about capitalism all the time. Heck, he is probably more of a capitalist than I am. But I guess because I am less of a collectivist than him, I am not capable of agreeing with all of his policy prescriptions. On the lockdowns, for instance, I can agree with him that they were necessary at first due to the novel nature of COVID, but we would disagree on when we should have ended it. We can agree that the mRNA vaccines prevent serious illness and death, but not whether or not that justifies mandating it. This is what I mean when I say nuance. It’s why I can respect Congresspeople like Ro Khanna, a progressive, who speaks to people on the other side and advocates for others to do. Do not get me wrong— I still have my biases, but I think I am doing a better job at beating them.
When I came to UT Austin, I was definitely on the left–although I had already become disillusioned with the DNC. I had begun to stray away from the left after listening to Ben Shapiro. Now, I am back somewhere close to the center–as I can understand the nuance of both sides. Soon, I will start my first full-time job, and I thank my conservative friends (even the ones with crazy policy prescriptions) for showing me the other side in a way I had never seen before. Now, we all have to help prevent civil war from breaking out and it might take nuance to do so.
If we cannot muster enough nuance for that, then a second civil war may very well be fated to happen.