June 24, 2003


Mapchic’s controversial announcement shocked her family:

I will never forget when one of my cousins actually burst into tears when I said out loud “I am a Republican” at a Thanksgiving dinner when I was in college. Another cousin, who is a university poli-sci professor, told me that I was not really a Republican – I was just confused. I was forced to get up from the table and get my membership card for the College Republicans out of my wallet to pass around the table to demonstrate to my horrified relatives the reality of my political affiliation.

Tell of your own family’s reaction to terrible conservative confessions. Bonus points for fist fights, decade-long feuds, being written out of wills, etc.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 24, 2003 04:26 AM

My parents were mortified when I told them I voted Liberal.

"Whats wrong with the National Party!?!" they cried.

Posted by: Yobbo at June 24, 2003 at 05:03 AM

True story: my husband (at OUR Thanksgiving Dinner attended by rabid liberals and conservatives) did the same in the '70's by asking, "What do you think about Me Lei?" Can't remember how to spell it, but it was a huge Viet Nam War stink bomb. Hubby then sat back and enjoyed the show. I could have killed him, because I knew JUST what he was up to!

Posted by: diana at June 24, 2003 at 06:03 AM

True story: my husband (at OUR Thanksgiving Dinner attended by rabid liberals and conservatives) did the same in the '70's by asking, "What do you think about Me Lei?" Can't remember how to spell it, but it was a huge Viet Nam War stink bomb. Hubby then sat back and enjoyed the show. I could have killed him, because I knew JUST what he was up to!

Posted by: dian at June 24, 2003 at 06:04 AM

Yes, my own parents are wet-ish Liberals and got to watch me swoop past them from pinko lefty in my early twenties to right-winger on most issues by my mid thirties. My girlfriend, meanwhile, has ot whisper to her folks that she no longer votes National like the rest of them, but Liberal. She's seen as slightly left now.

Posted by: AF at June 24, 2003 at 06:23 AM

I know the audience here in primarily Australian -- and I follow Australian politics more closely than most Americans -- but can one of you cats do a primer on these other parties (the Democrats, National Party, etc.) -- I know my Liberals (yah!) and Labor (boo!), but beyond that I'm flummoxed.

Posted by: Andrew at June 24, 2003 at 06:38 AM

My own family, you won't be surprised to learn, thinks I'm a pinko, albeit with occasional spasms of hawkishness. Of course, they're right. Even the teacher's unionist finds me very left of his center. Also, they are mostly Republicans.

As far as their reaction; it's hard to separate from their reaction when they saw me after a few months in college, when I came back with hippy hair, three new earrings (in festering self-pierced holes punctured via creative use of an Ace Frehley pin), extravagant disco clothing and no shoes. You could imagine the Pete Welchian hilarity that ensued.

Posted by: Matt Welch at June 24, 2003 at 06:59 AM

This isn't my story, but rather that of a friend of mine: Since the Iraq war, she's become unable to discuss politics with her mom, a lady who thinks the only non-rightwing news available is Radio Pacifica.

Leslie, my friend, isn't a conservative. I'd still say she's still pretty liberal in most things, but she has chafed considerably at a lot of the more egregious stupidity in Berkeley. She was a tentative supporter of the war. On the phone, her mom would rant about those damn Nazis in the white house and Leslie would humbly offer things like, "Well, I'm not so sure about that...," which would send her mom into fits of "Oh, so now you're one of them!"

True story.

Posted by: Russell at June 24, 2003 at 07:01 AM

My mother's family are all east-coast socialists. Over the years I first converted my mother to being a Republican. To add insult to injury she is now a libertarian like me. Oh yes and unlike her Francophone family, mater is an Anglophile as well. Pretty much the Locke family disowned me.

I got my revenge however, they are the baddies in my novel Mainely Romance. So at least all the verbal abuse was useful for something.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Castel-Dodge at June 24, 2003 at 07:09 AM

My wife's mother is an Irish-American, coal-miners'-union yellow dog Democrat. My wife is a "small-l libertarian" only because the libertarians started babbling to themselves on 9-11. She votes Republican, but won't register as one because she considers them statists.

Wife and mom-in-law went round and round all through the Clinton administration. Mom was a firm believer in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, but finally allowed as how WJC was probably "not an honest man." That was in January 2001.

They've stopped discussing politics, except when m-in-l gets another mailing from the Democratic Nat'l. Committee telling her that the Republicans are going to take away her Social Security benefits.

Posted by: F451 at June 24, 2003 at 08:25 AM

My experience parallels AF's. My parents are both teachers, and quite left wing -- they'd never vote Liberal. In my youth, we demonstrated against the Queen ("Sack Kerr!"), attended Redgum concerts, and watched Helen Caldicott speak in the Domain during the nuclear disarmament rallies in the 80's. (My father, to his credit, was disgusted by Caldicott's hysterical fear-mongering).

I identified with the left through my young adulthood, more from inertia than anything else, but gradually came to realize that I disagreed with my compatriots on virtually everything. My graduate research (into renewable energy) helped illustrate the delusional nature of so much left/environmental rhetoric. And the left's reaction to 9/11 cemented my transition.

My parents have a hard time with this. Their view of people on the right is typical of lefties: we're mean-spirited, ignorant, soulless, etc. My mother is horrified to learn that I would probably vote for Howard if I lived in Australia, and my father and I have simply agreed not to argue about certain topics. It's a shame, because he encouraged us to be skeptical rationalists, and this is where it took me.

Posted by: murray at June 24, 2003 at 09:11 AM


The National Party is the coalition partner of the Liberals. Hence, the National Party Leader is always the Deputy PM when the coalition is in power. They used be called the Country Party and represent the rural interests in Parliament.Many people hold that they are more right wing than the Liberals, but the two are probably much the same philosophically.

Posted by: Toryhere at June 24, 2003 at 09:12 AM

My mother, when asked whether she knew anyone who had socialist views, said:"Certainly not!I always thought people like that shot themselves." She brought me up to be a what I suppose the Americans would call a "South Park Republican", but what we call a Tory Anarchist. When I was young I was in the music industry for a few years and often got quite sick of the reflexive leftism I found there. But I soon found that it was skin deep. It is always easy to convert people to sensible right wing views, if you don't mention party politics. Eventually, they grow up and see that sensible right wing views go along with a vote for the Liberals or the Nationals. Hence, a lot of my friends from those days are now Liberal voters (not much use being anything else in Wentworth). What I find is that those who aren't really interested in party politics are usually Tories underneath.

Laugh with the Cavaliers!

Posted by: Toryhere at June 24, 2003 at 09:15 AM

- Names changed to protect the guilty - My "outing" was no big thing, just the usual fight in a posh restaurant, sister storms out and walks 15 miles home. My brother on the other hand... oh-wee, that was a good-un.

This one started with brother "A" talking politics at my house with brothers "C" and "D" (I'm brother B). Well things got a bit hot (as they do), brother C picked up a hammer and started brandishing it over the head of brother A. Meanwhile, brother D was shouting "hit him! hit him!" I didn't quite know what to do with this situation but I knew I didn't want brother A's brains spattered all over my kitchen so I went and got my 9mm pistol (S&W 6906) and pointed it at brother C. No response from him: I fire a couple of rounds over his head (through my own damn ceiling). Now I get a response. C and D flee the house. Brother D is a speed freak and brother C is a junkie, A and B are clean living if a bit odd. Read into that what you will.

The four of us have never been in the same room since that little episode almost ten years ago.

(get the democrats out of my email address to respond)

Posted by: Ignatious at June 24, 2003 at 09:49 AM

It's said that if you aren't a socialist when you are 20 you have no heart, if you are still a socialist when you are 40, you have no brain.

When I was 20 I thought this was crap. I wasn't a socialist, I voted for the Nationals. (This was in Qld).

Now I'm closer to 40 (now that's a scary sentence) I realize I WAS a socialist. The Nationals, while allegedly more right wing than the Liberals, actually have rather more socialist economics. They are in favour of price controls, and tariffs, and government subsidy of industry. It is just all in favour of rural industries, rather than the more typical socialists love of urban industries.

I no longer vote National. Too left wing.

Posted by: Patrick at June 24, 2003 at 09:57 AM

My folks were dustbowl Okies and Roosevelt Democrats. I remember Aunts and Uncles gleefully mangling Goldwater's, "In your heart, you know he's right" to "In your guts, you know he's nuts."

I was a Democrat until my first job as a bag boy at the local grocery store. To get this minimum wage job, I had to join a the Retail Clerk's Union. My first payday, I tore open my pay envelope and saw how much I was paying for initiation fees and dues, and taxes (to fund Johnson's war) skimmed off the top of my paycheck.

I went home and announced I was now a Republican. My mother chided me that the Republicans were the party of the rich. I replied that that was all right, I would make "rich" my next goal.

Posted by: Beryl Gray at June 24, 2003 at 10:00 AM

I'm always amazed when I hear of young people who are *more* conservative than their families. I'm from South Carolina, from a family that is about as Christian, Republican, conservative, and as God-fearing as you can get (still loving and relatively open-minded, though - they spoiled me rotten).

I always thought I was a raving left-winger - until I moved away from my family. Now I realize that, despite the fact that my family thinks I'm zany, I'm MUCH farther to the right than I originally thought. Especially compared to others who, like me, have social science PhD's.

Now, instead of seeming too boring and conservative, my family, like the anti-idiotarian bloggers I read, seem like an outpost of common sense and comfort in a crazy world.

Posted by: Kimberly at June 24, 2003 at 10:01 AM

I like to think of it as workplace diversity: I am the only conservative (and I mean Canadian Alliance, not Progressive Conservative) at my 150+ downtown Toronto non-profit workplace. In my birthday card my boss wrote: 'We are so delighted to welcome someone with a refreshing alternative political viewpoint!!' :-)

Outside the 416 area code, of course, my views are pretty much 'normal'. Most of my old friends are still stubbornly clinging to Michael Moore/Chomsky leftism, but we are drifting apart.

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle at June 24, 2003 at 10:08 AM

I was a passionate one-eyed lefty in my teens and early twenties ; anti-nuclear marches,land rights,republicanism, anti-capitalism etc. Actually,my support for many of these causes remains undiminished.
By my early thirties however it was becoming more difficult to deny that in respect of many of my dear held positions, the emperor simply had no clothes.
The irrationality of some arguments I had advanced was just impossible to ignore and I found many fellow travellers couldn't accept relevant,factual and valid criticisms without becoming abusive.
My family - extended and both sides - are all committed Howard Haters waiting for the restoration of the rightful rulers.
I am enjoying the role of black sheep - but I can never get a good political argument going anymore as the rellies feel so sorry for Mum and Dad they steer clear of my distasteful dissent.
It's a good lesson for me in raising my own children - I want them to be idealistic and committed to making the world a better place and I also want them to be rational and courageous thinkers who can face awkward truths and facts without fear or abuse.
I want them to strive for intellectual independence and rigour and to recognise and resist intolerance wherever they find it.
Probably they'll end up as hybrid as most of us - I hope they support me in my dotage!

Posted by: Jim at June 24, 2003 at 10:18 AM


Don't listen to a god damn thing any bloggers try tell you about Australian political parties. They're the most biased bunch of biatches I've ever had the misfortune to read on a daily basis.

Posted by: Jonas at June 24, 2003 at 11:04 AM

P.J. O'Rourke tells a good story about his hippie days at college in the 1960s. His grandmother was the sort of woman who couldn't even utter the word "democrats" in front of the children, so she used the word "bastards" instead. Anyway, PJ made the mistake of discussing politics with his grandmother, and she asked him if he's a Democrat. He replied that he's not into bourgeois ruling class parties blah blah - he's a Maoist! "At least you're not a Democrat" replied his grandmother.

Posted by: Steve at June 24, 2003 at 11:11 AM

Unfortunately the exact opposite- I was a horribly tiresome Trotskyite until well past the age of reason, and a return to the folds of capitalist conservatism was warmly welcomed by my family, whom I firmly believed to be nazis for at least 15 years. My eldest brother still harbours some disturbing beliefs from the age of aquarius, however, so I can still at least horrify him from time to time.

Posted by: paul bickford at June 24, 2003 at 11:32 AM

Jim - nicely put.

American vistors who know only that Liberals = good and Labor = bad might be surprised to know two things that complicate matters from a free-market/libertarian perspective. They are that:

1. it was the previous Labor government that undertook most of the important market liberalisation reforms of the last 20 years, while the economic reform record of the current Liberal government is piecemeal, at best; and

2. the Liberal party is the party that has fought (and continues to fight) to keep Australia subject to the British monarchy. "Republicans" they are not . . . in any sense of the word!

Posted by: Mork at June 24, 2003 at 11:39 AM

on a related matter- in my youth I played in a truly awful punk band who played regularly in a sleazy venue called "The Curry House" which passed for bohemian in Brisbane in the late '70s. On one side of the room would perch the radical feminist/lesbian set, on the other the neo-nazi skinhead crew. Our drummer (who was quite a fan of Hitler) used to start a chant of "smash communism" which would be taken up by the crew-cut cretins- the rest of us would start up a chant of "smash capitalism/fascism" (depending on the crowd), and then let them get into the spirit of the debate by punching each other and throwing bottles. Much mirth resulted, and it usually managed to get us an early finish for that set.

Posted by: paul bickford at June 24, 2003 at 11:41 AM

I have never changed my political spots, the tide of world political opinion has simply ebbed and flowed about me.
In my teens I was a Haydenite Labour supporter (ie economic libertarian, social egalitarian, cultural conservative).
By the mid nineties, the man who best represented this position was John Howard. Residual loyalty to the ALP, a personal liking for Keating saw me vote ALP 96, but since then my heart's not been in it.
Timor swung me around to Howard, and his handling of subsequent identity and security political issues confirmed this.
I confessed to voting Liberal at the last election. Since then I have been hounded, harassed and hooted; given the third degree over the contents of my blog and told that I am a "creep" by an old friend.
Yea, had I fessed up to paedophilia the persecution could hardly have been worse.
HOward has won three elections on the trot and looking to number four, yet I know no one who has voted for him.
HOw does he do it?

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at June 24, 2003 at 12:29 PM

Mork tepefies the reason of why my shift away from labor selecting facts cheerfully to justify there beliefs. Australia was heeding for the economic crapper, mortgages were virtually untenable. Those reforms were mostly supported by the Coalition and sent the loony's to the Democrats/Greens. It's a pity they know want the back. And the armature Chomsky's will seal there fate.

Posted by: Gary at June 24, 2003 at 12:40 PM

What exactly did my post "tepefy", Gary? I stated two propositions that I would have thought were generally recognised as facts.

Did you disagree with either of them?

Your post seems to me to typify the intellectual stultification of a Manichean world view that simply cannot admit of any facts that aren't favorable to its ultimate conclusion.

Posted by: Mork at June 24, 2003 at 12:48 PM

Thanks for correcting my spelling Mork. And I meant to say carefully not "cheerfully" as there is nothing cheerful about you.

Posted by: Gary at June 24, 2003 at 01:27 PM

On the contrary, Gary, I am in a remarkably fine mood.

Posted by: Mork at June 24, 2003 at 01:28 PM

I am described by my friends as being slightly to the right of Ghenghis and have been very politically active since a teenager. My wife on the other hand never paid much attention to politics and just voted however the family voted, which was Liberal.

Anyway, my father-in-law announced that he was going to run for State Parliament for the ALP. I told my wife that while I liked her dad and wouldn't do anything against him, there was no way I was voting for him (we live in his electorate). Well did the fireworks start! - "I can't believe you won't support your own family! I don't ask much of you! It's only a few numbers on a piece of paper!. . ." As you can see family loyalty was much more important to her than politics (probably one of the many wonderful characteristics that made me fall in love with her!). So after two days of little talk and absolutely no conjugal rights being exercised I explained it to her like this. Her brother was until them the family black sheep - full on Union man and currently working for the CFMEU. If my Dad ran in his electorate for the Liberals, would she expect her brother to vote for him? Answer - "No, that's different. Your Dad's not his father-in-law". However, things slowly dethawed after that. Now I'm the token conservative, but my wife still votes liberal at the Federal level.

Posted by: Razor at June 24, 2003 at 01:38 PM

I, too, have traversed the political spectrum in my lifetime. In my callow youth I was a patriotic, Thatcherite, pro-Zionist, gun-loving, Arch-Capitalist. And, over the years, I have gradually swung more to the Right!

Posted by: David Carr at June 24, 2003 at 01:39 PM

My first political experience was at a young age listening to union death threats against my father and my family because the workers for his small construction business did not want to join their union. After that I always knew I'd be Liberal and nothing I've seen since has changed my mind. Dad always taught us to explore issues in-depth and if you don't know all the facts then go and find out. Don't be a tool for someone else to push their own agenda.
Never really mattered that much until 9/11, but now things have changed.
Since then I've converted two Labour friends to the dark side and have another one wavering. To be fair, the Labour Party itself did most of the work themselves through their pandering to the Greens.
So converting the two blue-collar workers was not really that hard, but the Teacher/Greenie is still in the process of conversion.
Big thanks to all the bloggers for their coverage of stuff that doesn't get much chop in the mass media (eg. Iraqi dead baby factory etc.). Just to see the light of true understanding come into their eyes is reward enough!

Posted by: Huddo at June 24, 2003 at 01:57 PM

Telling people you're a Republican or a Liberal voter can be tough. BUT try telling your friends you've become a Christian. Now THERE'S a fun experience. You can tell them you're a Buddhist, shinto priest, Hindu love god, a shaman, or satanist, but mention Christ and watch the fur fly! You should try it.

Posted by: Les at June 24, 2003 at 03:25 PM

I'm only 18 now so I haven't had too much time to change political identity

I was apolitical until the events of a certain September morning when I was 16 and as I sat there watching thousands of people being incinerated (our school set up TV's) one of my lefty friends (with a copy of the Guardian in his hands) started to tell me what those people did to deserve it. I became even more bemused when he and others on the left started talking about how evil Amerikkka was after destroying the Taliban, who logically should be about the biggest enemies of the educated left in this country.

That and following events mean that I am a moderate imperialist libertarian, woo!

Posted by: Chris Rice at June 24, 2003 at 03:33 PM

I'm a rather right-wing 18 year old. At university. In Brisbane. That means that pretty much everybody disagrees with me. But I don't let that phase me, simply because I'm too arrogant to care!

Posted by: Marty at June 24, 2003 at 04:26 PM

My mother didn't talk to me for two and a half years when I joined the NZ National Party. If only I could do it all again.

The only other really fun experiences involve being spat on by complete strangers (varsity social life) and kicking someone in the nuts who called me the "moral equivalent of a Jewish Nazi" (alcoholic social life).

Posted by: Craig Ranapia at June 24, 2003 at 04:37 PM

My parents are wanna be libitarians (well my dad anyway and he is the only one who counts). So I guess that puts them to the right of me but somehow Im always the hawkish one. Then there is my sister who is more socially conservative but economically more liberal.
I remember arguing with my social studies teacher about the over simplicity of the left right scale.

Posted by: scott at June 24, 2003 at 05:04 PM

Well, my parents are soft-left fuzzy-wuzzy types who love Hugh Mackay. I started out as a radical anarchist, charged past them by 19, and at 22 am complaining that Ronald Reagan is not still US President.

Posted by: Steve Edwards at June 24, 2003 at 06:11 PM

My grandfather was a _firm_ believer in communism until his death in the early 80's. My parents have always (to my knowledge) been conservative; my father rages that the ABC is pushing left-wing propaganda.. he sits there gnashing his teeth for 1/2 hour every night (don't know why he watches it; it's going to give him a heart attack).. and don't even start him on the SMH.

I was politically active as a conservative while I was still living in Oz and I've "converted" from a dry to a wet in thinking since. In the obsessed circles that politically active conservatives run in in Australia, that's almost as scandalous as voting Democrat...I'm too scared to tell anyone!

Posted by: Juanito at June 24, 2003 at 08:20 PM

My father was more than a little upset when I announced at age 19 that I had become a Marxist.

"What's the problem?" I asked. "I thought you liked the Marx Brothers!"

Posted by: PixyMisa at June 25, 2003 at 02:09 AM

A midwestern American perspective:

My wife's family were all Democrats in an area of the country where Democrats tend to be fairly conservative. Great Depression, Roosevelt, Truman, "working man", yaadaa yaadaa yaadaa...

First my mother-in-law jumped the fence to Republican because the Democrats somehow thought that a lying sack of crap made a good Presidential candidate (twice!). 9/11 swung my wife from passivity to Republican. My father-in-law made the same swing but won't admit it; he likes needling me.

My state had not had a Republican legislature in over 50 years until 2002; now its 2/3rds Republican.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at June 25, 2003 at 02:15 AM

I live in New York City, where I am constantly frightening the locals by revealing my right-leaning nature. I find I am often introduced at parties with the phrase "This is Bob, he's a Republican!" At one party, one guest was so flummoxed by this news that he could not speak, and he and I stood for a few moments in awkward silence. After all, what does one say to a Republican? In his search for common ground, he finally ventured the following: "I was cut off by a driver on the freeway the other day, and believe me, I wanted to shoot him."

Posted by: Bob at June 25, 2003 at 02:26 AM

My wife was born in Germany to a line of Social Democrats. Her first vote as an American was a vote for Ralph Nader in 2000. Now she adores Rumsfield and Bush, has put American flags on our cars and house, and has become a registered Republican.

Needless to say she doesn't talk politics with her family.

Posted by: ruprecht at June 25, 2003 at 03:46 AM

Dad was a printer and strong union man -- he even made Father of the Chapel a few times. It was unthinkable for him to vote any way other than Labor and, by association, I followed. In my twenties, I began the slow drift to the right, voting Liberal. Sadly, I watched as even the Liberals drifted left, mouthing the virtues of collectivism over the rights of the individual. Then Howard totally destroyed my faith with his blatant policy of rule by fiat; viz the GST and his phobic hatred of one group of innocent Australians (firearms owners) which continues even today. Now I actively support any smaller party or indie running on a platform of individual freedom and smaller government.

I'll die voting that way, too.

Posted by: Bruce at June 25, 2003 at 02:20 PM

It's not that right wing people don't remember who did all the Free Trade type changes in the past (it was the Hawke/Keating Labor government). It's just that they can't find anyone to do it in the future.

At least Howard isn't undoing what has already been done.

Posted by: Patrick at June 25, 2003 at 07:32 PM