Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Tammy Bruce in Townhall.com: President Reagan Changed Me

I haven't written yet about former President Reagan's passing, and for good reason. Reagan was President during my formative high school & college years, and during that time there was a certain degree of indoctrination that had taken hold in my still-forming socio-political psyche. It wasn't considered compassionate, or particularly intelligent, to allign oneself with an unabashed conservative. My views of feminism, as practiced at my small womens' Catholic college, caused me to think most of its' adherents were zealots of the 'Man Haters 101' ideology, but I still held hopes of its' being redeemed as a source of self-reliance. It was easy to think that the world, and the people who lived in it, could be perfected. I have changed since then, profoundly so.

Many of those memories I've reconnected with today have come as a result of reading Tammy Bruce's President Reagan Changed Me in today's online edition of Townhall. It's an especially compelling piece when you consider that Ms. Bruce, ten years ago, was the President of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

"Ronald Reagan was hated, and still is, in the feminist-establishment circles in which I grew up. That milieu subsists on enemies and hatred. I took my cues from the women around me, women I admired. They were strong and confident, and they knew. They knew who was out to get us. They knew who was determined to throw us back into the Dark Ages. They knew Reagan was evil.

I tell you this not as an excuse for my past actions but as a further illustration of what I’ve been discussing ... the way malignant narcissism is spread. You see, the seed of my politics, the politics I espouse now, were already manifested in my voting for President Reagan 10 years earlier. I liked him, and I believed he had the best interests of Americans in mind. During my involvement with NOW, however, what took over was my need to be accepted, the romanticization of my “victimhood,” and the power I could achieve by following the models of the women at the top. Those women were happy that Reagan was sick, so I would be, too.

The conditioning of the Left Elite works so well partly because the people attracted to that camp are looking for family, they are looking to belong; consequently people like that – people like me – are easy pickings. My emptiness compelled me to cheer when a decent man who followed his principles was struck down by an unforgiving assailant. Alzheimer’s had done what many feminist leaders fantasized about doing themselves, if only they could get away with it.

It's a long yet worthwhile essay, and I admire Tammy Bruce's ability to be true to her core beliefs, incl. stem cell research, and the right of a woman to choose an abortion, even if I do not agree in principal with those beliefs.

Why? Because she is able to do so, at least now, without the need to eviscerate the reputation of a those on the other side, be they politician, public figure, or a plebian like me who disagrees with her. She seems to be someone with whom I could engage in a sober and civil discussion about important issues we disagree upon.

Maybe that is what strikes me about this essay, not just her admitted admiration for Ronald Reagan or her political transformation. It's that so much of our political discourse has devolved into shrill and nihilistic raging from The Left, who regard all conservatives as "Right Wing Religious Fanatics". This is met by The Right, to whom much of The Left looks increasingly out of touch with reality. Civility is gone, and all differences are reduced to life and death struggles.

I would argue that most Neo-Cons (myself included), believe not in the sovreignty of the bible in all personal and political matters, but rather in the need to support existing democracies while establishing new ones where they are most needed as the only effective way to deal with the problem of terrorism. Many of us started out as Democrats, may still grudgingly call ourselves so, but the Democratic Party of the 21st Century, with it's continued obeisance to group-think and divisivenes, and its' continued denial of the threat we are facing, is not the one we grew up with.

Thinking about these matters, however, requires introspection into areas that are challenging, and scary, too. Humility is required, as well as listening to others whose views we have been conditioned to think of as foreign and therefore distrustful. Tammy Bruce went looking anyway, and her story is deserving of our attention.

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