Regarding Jonathan Krohn

Regarding Jonathan Krohn
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Sorry for the delay in updating. Last week I was asked to do a guest comic for my buddy Sam Logan over at Sam and Fuzzy and working on that pretty much filled my traditional Filibuster time. It was a good comic though, with a script written by the great Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame, so I’ll be sure to link to it once it goes up.

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Several years ago, when the Republican Party was in its most frustrated and driftless post-Obama state, it seemed every week a new conservative superstar would emerge from the wilderness, bearing some hopeful strategy of right-wing  resurgence. Some of these characters, like Andrew Brietbart and Rand Paul would go on to archive considerable success as leaders of what would become the Tea Party, while others, like Joe the Plumber and Michael Steele, would ultimately decay just as fast as they rose.

Yet even in their darkest post-2008 days, no fallen Republican idol ever became disillusioned enough to abandon the cause of conservatism altogether. The public spotlight might have focused elsewhere, but they continued to plug along against the Democrats, even in the anonymous darkness. Glen Beck’s still making web videos in his underground bunker; Sarah Palin is still bringing her magical medicine show to a city near you.

This explains why there’s been so much attention as of late lavished upon young Jonathan Krohn, the one-time Republican wunderkind who became a media darling last week when it was revealed he had openly abandoned the values of the very ideological movement that originally catapulted him to fame.

Krohn was in many ways the most iconic member of the post-2008 Republican revival sideshow. At only 13 years old, little Jonathan’s conservative gimmick was that he “got” the fundamental justness of capitalism and small government and Judeo-Christian morality at a supremely young age, in contrast to all those greying bleeding heart liberal boomers several decades his senior. He wrote a snappy little book about his observations, and was invited to speak at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference — the ultimate post-Obama pep rally — where he nasally slurred out a few cookie-cutter remarks about the “principles of conservatism” amid great adult applause.

An overnight hero, Krohn did the Tea Party rally circut for a while, and was photographed with all the biggest bigwigs of the GOP, who endlessly praised his youthful commitment to the cause. But then he vanished for a while, and seemed to disappear down the same memory hole that claimed Balloon Boy, Levi Johnston, keyboard cat, and all the other 15-minute tropes of the previous decade.

Last week, however, someone at Politico tracked him down and discovered that in his years out of the spotlight, the now 17-year-old Jonathan has recanted much of his earlier beliefs and is now (gasp!) actually something of a liberal.

“Back then I was really just saying stuff I heard on the radio a lot … and I just lived around conservative stuff all my life,” he said in one of his many post-Politio interviews. “I just said stuff I thought I believed, but I really didn’t know what I was saying enough to have a conversation about it.”

Far from being a brilliantly contrarian free-thinking intellectual, in other words, 13-year-old Krohn was really just what most of us are at that age — a fairly sheltered individual with knee-jerk notions of right and wrong largely shaped by the prevailing consensus of adult authority.

Writing in Salon, he summarized his conclusions thusly:

 I was tired of the right using me as an example of how young people “get” what they’re talking about — when it’s obvious that I didn’t get what I talking about at all. I mean, come on, I was between 13 and 14 when I was regurgitating these talking points! What does a kid who has never paid a tax bring to the table in a conversation about the burden of taxes? What does a healthy child know about people who can’t afford healthcare because of preexisting conditions? No matter how intelligent a person might be, certain political issues require life experience; they’re much more complicated than the black and white frames imposed by partisan America.

Overall, this is obviously a pretty overblown story that exists mostly to exercise the very same sorts of hysterical partisanship Krohn himself now denounces. Righties are furious at the treason, liberals smug at the “conversion.” The same people who once thought Jonathan was too infintile to be taken seriously now consider his views sensible and insightful, and vice-versa.

My question, however, is whether or not you, dear reader, see any of yourself in the Jonathan Krohn story. I know I certainly do.

My first political incarnation — which still exists archived on this site in the form of some of my pre-2006 (or so) cartoons — was very much that of a knee-jerk neo-con of the style that was in fashion during the first Bush Presidency. I’m lucky I didn’t write much in those days, because my views were really quite shrill and off-putting. I enjoyed hating “the left” simply as an abstract concept, I thought I knew absolutely everything about their nefarious agenda, and I had a very hard time believing any criticism of a conservative could be supported by anything other than lies, envy, and fanaticism.

Today I still self-identify as a man of the right, but I’ve also learned that democratic politics is considerably more about individuals than ideas, meaning that analyzing all current events through some rigid, dogmatic prism is not only personally off-putting, it kind of misses the point. For your commentary to be worth anything, you simply have to be able to criticize both sides, since both sides are flawed, dumb, and destructive, and for reasons that usually have very little to do with the ideological agenda they’re supposedly pushing. Liberals, in general, are bad at being liberals and conservatives are bad at being conservative. Everyone is bad at being a politician, because a politician is generally a bad thing to be. Politics is a profession with its own internal logic, and you lose something of yourself when you try to conform your thinking to its irrationalities.

This revelation, I should note, came to me about midway through my university years, aka, my early 20s. So young Jonathan may still have a conversion or two left in him.

How many have you had?




^ 33 Comments...

  1. FuManchu

    I've largely maintained the rightish political opinions I've always had throughout my life, but they've been mellowed considerably by experience. As Mr. Krohn remarks, there is very little you can bring to the table on a subject without direct experience of it. It's a bit embarrassing to remember what I used to be like in some respects, especially in terms of anti-Americanism. I can still recall the 18-year-old me picking fights online for no real reason except to annoy Americans.

    My domestic politics have been maintained mainly because they were never based on much beyond self-interest; what is beneficial to me and people like me hasn't changed much in the last decade, so neither have my views. The difference is that these days I don't pretend that some kind of overarching ideological purity lies behind them.

  2. bificommander

    I can't say I've had any mayor conversions in my 28 years. I've always been pretty much a lefty. I've moved slightly more to the center perhaps, and now realize a bit better that situations can be more complicated, but nothing that can point at as a huge shift in my position. Whether that is because my original position was already reasonable, my current position is still immature, or I just don't pay enough care and attention to have and voice strong political believes I leave as an exercise for the reader.

    And yeah, I remember J.J.'s old "Osama bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein are joined at the hip"-cartoon. That was… not his best work. But these days I really like seeing J.J's analysis of news items, especially because of his different political leanings. While I might not always agree with his position, his articles below the comments are generally well argued and interesting. On several liberal blogs I've plugged this site when people said they wanted to hear some opinions from more conservative sources than they themselves are, but were trying to find one that wasn't infested by foaming-at-the-mouth liberal-conspiracy theorists.

  3. J.J. McCullough

    The other big evolution I've had is that I've largely stopped caring much about foreign policy. I think I was like a lot of kids of the 9-11 generation in that I started university convinced I was going to someday be a diplomat or foreign policy wonk. These days I really have to muster the energy to care about the happenings of the Middle East, I feel like the place is just irreversibly screwed up and boring.

  4. Colin Minich

    Ever run into the ones that were wholly convinced themselves that they had all the ideas or that they were the ones advocating the truly unique ideas? Or maybe the ones that would try to goad you into adopting their ideas if they think you'll ascend some political or cultural chain?

    Where I went and in my major of International Relations, I got this in spades. Painful.

    "These days I really have to muster the energy to care about the happenings of the Middle East, I feel like the place is just irreversibly screwed up and boring."

    You and me both. It's Asia, SA, and Europe for me now.

  5. Colin Minich

    I think I've always been moderate/conservative in the sense of foreign policy and liberal in the sense of domestic policy. The only thing I start to see now as I get older is that more often than not people make the easier and less healthy choice when it comes to personal lifestyle than doing the right thing and I often think in terms of technocracy that it needs to change. That's about all I can think of. I'd say the biggest conversion I had was from Roman Catholic since high school to basically agnostic towards the end of college. And Krohn? He was thirteen…THIRTEEN. To be honest I don't really trust the solidity of the mindset of anyone around that age since they're already about to go through puberty and the worst emotional experiences of their lives without the deaths of anyone. It's not really surprising he might have a change of heart. He was just a kid who had a voice and got a lot of attention with nice pictures taken and now he's seeing a little more reason as he progresses, especially with how shady the Tea Partiers are. This happens when people grow up.

  6. AddThreeAndFive

    When I was 8, I considered myself Republican, but only because I liked elephants more than donkeys. Actually, that's not entirely true. My Dad is Republican and so I listened to him a lot. But the Bush presidency and all the arrogance I saw among conservatives then (If you don't support War in Iraq, you're unAmerican!) really turned me off on the GOP. All that seemed hateful and divisive to me and I decided I didn't want to be a part of that.

    I actually think I was always liberal. My earliest politcal convictions were about the Elian Gonzalez affair (remember him?) and though I knew Cuba was (supposedly) a bad place, I felt like he should be with his dad rather than his relatives, who looked like they were exploiting him. I remember being one of only a few in my classroom believing this when the teacher took a poll. There was also Clinton's impeachment, and I could never understand why Gingrich seemed so hellbent on destroying him.

    Anyway, I've gradually been moving further left recently, but I suspect in time, when the political waters are calmer, I'll move back to the center.

  7. Chris

    My only thought is that this is why we don't let even the most politically-minded kids vote. When I was 13, I was pretty sure that I was thinking for myself. Now that I'm 29 and looking back on it… nope, I sure wasn't.

  8. EBounding

    I can also formerly describe myself as a "knee-jerk neo-con". But even then, I was never comfortable defending Bush, I was only interested in attacking the left since I felt they were so much worse. So to some extent I can see where this kid is coming from.

    My views changed on immigration, the wars, and civil liberties. Also marriage to some extent, but not on anything else. But that still makes me crazy to most people. Oh well.

    I'm going door-to-door since running in a precinct delegate race and the people I talk to are thrilled that someone under 70 is actually out there doing something and asking for their vote. The GOP knows it's literally dying. They're desperate for young people, but want to make sure they stay true to the neo-con platform. I've seen it first hand at local conventions. When I gave a speech to be nominated for the state convention, the county chairman was thrilled. I talked about how I was involved with the college republicans and the Bush campaign in the past, but he had no idea my views had changed since then. They were actively trying to shut out everyone else (the "Ron Paul People"). Eventually though they're going to learn that they can't have their cake and eat it too.

  9. Nick Wood

    If this is indicative of anything, it's that our political discourse has become so simple-minded that a reasonably intelligent 13 year old can get rapt attention from the news-media for having pretty common opinions, and relatively common shifts in his opinion when he grows up somewhat.

    This guy is pretty much going through the same internal conflicts I did at his age (I'm not too much older than him myself). At first, I considered myself conservative because my parents were, and so, being a well-read 13 year old, I read stuff by Bill O'Reilly and got really smug about being able to regurgitate his talking points. Then, when I was a teenager I started over and began thinking more for myself.

  10. KarenJ503

    If this…

    For your commentary to be worth anything, you simply have to be able to criticize both sides, since both sides are flawed, dumb, and destructive, and for reasons that usually have very little to do with the ideological agenda they’re supposedly pushing. Liberals, in general, are bad at being liberals and conservatives are bad at being conservative. Everyone is bad at being a politician, because a politician is generally a bad thing to be. Politics is a profession with its own internal logic, and you lose something of yourself when you try to conform your thinking to its irrationalities.

    …is your epiphany articulated, I think Jonathan Krohn grew up faster than you did, assimilated his education better than you did, and displays a lot more depth of thought than you have. Really, isn't your statement above just a wee bit shallow and blah?

  11. J.J. McCullough

    I guess he won then?

  12. Rolleyes

    The first political opinions I recall having were a kind of radical ecologism where I thought men were evil, animal-lkilling and planet-destructing and that we should just disappear and leave the animals alone.

    Then I moved on to a French Communist Party platform of ideas :
    – Pacifist and internationalist
    – Self-proclaimed humanist (that was an improvement)
    – Atheist and ultra-secular
    – For the revolution in theory but democracy-abiding in practise

    Since then,
    – Arguing with americans about the Iraq war and many other things taught me the whole influence of one's surrounding on one's ideas and how you must find out these factors, and respect your political opponent.
    – I learnt philosophical concept that destroyed the simplistic "left/right" scale I had in my mind and helped me form a 3D map of political ideologies and philosophical potential point of views.
    – I gave up with the revolution and accept myself as a reformist. I think revolution is sometimes necessary but let's face it, my way to act will anyway always be the way of reform.
    – I mellowed a lot on religious points of view (which, to the truth, were never very harsh) and consider, for instance, the christian right to be an objective ally on many issues.

  13. Rolleyes

    Oh, I forgot the major change : I stopped thinking that my righteous self had all the answers to other people's problems.

  14. Zulu

    Man, he's just a kid. He shouldn't have been taken advantaged of like that. Anyways, when I was in my young teens I toyed with Communist ideals even though I was a strict Christian, leading me Liberation Theology in High School while in foreign policy I was actually on the right. I gradually moved to the center on most issues through HS and College. I'm in post-bacc. education now and I'm generally Center-Left, though I'm on the right on key issues. It's undeniable that being an Atheist now has had some influence on this shift, but my shift is for the most part on a case-by-case issue.

  15. @rini6

    Well I can say, without exaggeration, that I have been on the 'liberal" side of things for my entire life. My parents were conservative and I was not raised to believe in liberal ideas. However, I remember, at 14, arguing with my father that mutually assured destruction was insane and that we should reelect Jimmy Carter. I knew Reagan had the mojo, at that time, though. I remember being upset when he fired the air traffic controllers.

  16. Amie

    I've never had a conversion, just a slow progression from a raging leftillogical knee-jerk responder towards a more critical, hopefully sceptical approach. I still battle the knee-jerk lefticism, however I find I'm less and less welcome among what I consider to be my own kind.

  17. Hentgen

    I was a kid during the Common Sense Revolution, and what really sold me on general right-of-centre thought was the overall hypocrisy of the centre-left in this country. (To be fair, a younger version of myself would be dismayed by the hypocrisy of the centre-right that now controls the parliament, but I digress.) One clear example was my homeroom teacher, who had told us she had voted for Mike Harris because he was the only candidate she believed would balance the budget, only to climb on a warhorse and denounce him from the rooftops when he set about to do just that.

    I was kind of a nerdy kid who as fascinated by economics and politics, so I ended up reading a lot about it and talking to my dad about how society should work. My dad's an academic and emphasized logical thought. He would also often amuse himself by playing Devil's advocate when I felt too strongly about a complicated issue.

    Overall, I ended up building a very simplistic, but generally libertarian/conservative, worldview. I didn't really have much of an opinion on social issues, mainly I wanted to let people do whatever they wanted, and I was convinced after the success of the Harris small(er) government and the repeated failures of Chretien's big government policies meant that the government was generally incompetent and unable to do anything right.

    I think what really seasoned my views more than anything was just general life experience. I think I drifted far more to the center on fiscal and economic issues as I learned that bad things can happen to people who work hard and a just society should be mindful of it, and that sometimes government intervention can be helpful. Ayn Rand preached enlightened self-interest, but I can't argue that a basic social safety net is necessarily against my self-interest. I suppose that makes me a lousy libertarian.

    On the other hand, my view of social issues has shifted to be more conservative. I am more confident in the moral certainty of my views, although I acknowledge the practical need to sometimes make immoral decisions and its implication for government policy. I lack the conviction to use my views on social issues to drive legislation, which I suppose means I'm not really much of a social conservative.

    Overall, I still feel that I, too, am a man of the right, but I am far more cynical and weary about the political process. There's too much dogma, too many agendas and too much fighting.

  18. Amie

    Your last little paragraph sums it all up for me perfectly, only at the end of the day, I'm still a lady of the left. Just a disillusioned one.

  19. @jewishndp

    When I was 18, I was young and idealistic. I wanted the world to be a certain way, and I saw the left as the only way to accomplish that. I joined the NDP and got involved in the radical youth movement within – the kind that walk around in shirts with Stalin on them.

    Nowadays, I'm still a member of the NDP, but I'm much more moderate, and I support the zionist and monarchist ideals that one typically see in the Right.

  20. Guest

    Huh. The left in the UK is totally different. We don't have tankies any more and Mao never really took off here either. All the entryists are Trots, and they don't mention it in public.

  21. ThePsudo

    I went from not caring about politics in favor of science and technology, to caring about politics because Rush Limbaugh said regulation was stifling science and technology, to caring about politics far more than science and technology (and thinking Rush was wrong more often than right). But I can't say any of that was an ideological conversion. I know more issues and more sides to each issue, but I've consistently believed the government wants more power than it can effectively execute and that most political disagreement is caused by belief in "facts" that aren't true. I've believed Reagan was a great President and a good person since I was 7, and the desperate attempts to tie him to Iran Contra have not persuaded me otherwise.

    I've had many liberals and libertarians over the years tell me that I was the most open-minded and reasonable conservative they had ever met, and yet I've never particularly changed my core views. That seems like it ought to be a contradiction. Unless I'm right.

  22. Kento

    Psudo, what's extraordinary about you isn't that you're open minded. It's that you show extraordinary good will.

  23. @Andy928766

    I do not even remember having any real political views when I was 13. In fact, when I was 13 I was so completely ignorant of politics that the 2004 Presidential election was something that I only really learned about in retrospect. I could not remember who the Vice President was until he shot his buddy in a hunting accident. And I also completely missed the famous Senate race happening in my own state in 2006 (when Senator Lieberman lost a primary but was re-elected as an independent in a three-way race).

    I certainly have changed views on things and got convinced in some crazy things over the past few years, most of which I have come to regret. It must have been around late 2005 or early 2006 when one of my high school teachers "introduced" my class to 9/11 conspiracy theories which I became convinced was true. Fortunately, after a few months I learned otherwise and even to this day I deeply regret having been so naive to fall for such nonsense. After that, I mostly did not care too deeply about politics until the 2008 election starting heating up in 2007. I figured it was time to start paying attention to the news and learning more. So I did but I did not really develop any hard views. Then I made my next mistake which I blame entirely on spending too much time on the Internet on sites like YouTube. I started to consider myself a Ron Paul supporter probably mid-way in 2008 and became one of those stereotypical, non-thinking anti-Bush people. I held onto those views until early 2009 when I finally sobered up and realized how disconnected from reality I was plus the fact I was not really making my own views on things, just regurgitating things I had seen on the Internet.

    Today I generally consider myself to be a moderate conservative (if such a thing exists). I have become so cynical of sites like YouTube because of all the trouble they have caused me so far. Now when I read news, despite my own views, I always try to find the most non-biased version. I just want the story and I prefer to continue to learn and develop my own viewpoint on things. Admittedly, I still do not have hard views on most things, but I never discuss politics in real-life anyway.

    I can see where this Krohn kid comes from. When you are young and do not know much, it is very easy to have others' views impressed upon you simply because what you hear all the time just starts sounding like the only right view.

  24. AddThreeAndFive

    We seem to be about the same age. I was surrounded by politics when I was a kid, both at school ("civic engagement" was a big part of the curriculum, and we held a mock election and even watched Bush's 2nd inauguration in class) and at home (My Dad works for the government and had strong opinions). You obviously didn't grow up that way, which I guess is why you got drawn into the Ron Paul crowd. I had a couple friends who were convinced he was the second coming of Jesus and eventually I tuned them out whenever they were talking about him.

  25. Gastel

    Well put. I certainly identify as a Liberal, although in Ontario that seems to be changing as to its meaning. When I first found this site (a long time ago), I was initially on guard by the conservative overtone. I stayed however, because I found that the articles were not slamming liberals over the head, rather the research and opinion of a thoughtful Canadian whose opinions were simply different than mine. I enjoy reading Filibuster partly because it is not a simple rehash of my ideas, but rather challenges me to understand my viewpoint or to make adjustments.

    Thanks for all of your great work.

  26. Manguy

    Looking back on my political views I see how childish they truly were when I was, well, a child. I said I was one thing or another with little to no understanding of what those ideologies were. At 13 I was a conservative. Why? My family was conservative and so I gravitated towards that. At 15 I was an anarchist. Why? I liked punk music, so that must be what anarchy is all about. I really didn't know anything yet I was so deadly certain about these things.

    Now I'm 23 and I feel like I at least have some understanding of these things. The closest thing I'd identify myself as is a social democrat, but I do not agree with a number of key tenants of that political philosophy. I'm sure I'll have another evolution or two (or more) politically in my life but ultimately the only thing I'm sure of with these things now is that as long as you're a thinking person then you have your own philosophy and everything else is just a label.

  27. Guest

    As a kid, I was a nasty little Tory. As a teenager, I was a socially conservative statist technnocrat. By university, I had become a socialist, privately conservative but politically a social liberal. In full-time employment, I'm a syndicalist: I believe economic democracy through organising at work, not capturing state power, is the road to liberation, and I believe society falls very short of the dominant social views of gender and disability, amongst other things.

    And if I live to see a new society, I'll probably be mostly grumbling about how just because I supported the revolution didn't mean I actually wanted to live in a utopia with hippies trying to cure me of post-capitalist stress disorder.

  28. Other Guy

    I did go from being a heavy weight conservative to a more right-central opinion and I am still evolving as I think most people do throughout their lives. This is part of life for most normal people as we need to keep adjusting our views to face our current realities and ideas.

    I do however take issue with this story. As the 17 Jonathan says "No matter how intelligent a person might be, certain political issues require life experience". At 17 he's now a wise sage who has paid taxes, understands health care and is able to give opinions?

    You can't play both sides of the coin here. Either you accept the opinion of a kid or you don't. 13 and 17 are not that different that you can now claim he has "grown up".

  29. AddThreeAndFive

    I say otherwise. There's a world of difference between 13 and 17. I should know. The things I was going through at 17 weren't even on the horizon when I was 13. The teen years move very fast.

  30. Dryhad

    It sounds to me like he isn't giving opinions. Politico tracked him down and he answered their questions. He's not stepping forward saying "everything that kid said is totally wrong and here's why", he's saying that he didn't know what he was saying when he said those things and he's explaining why. After been asked exactly that. As J.J. says, it's not as big a deal as it seems to have been presented.

  31. Dryhad

    For the most part, all age and wisdom have brought me are better ways to articulate what I already believed. The one exception might be that around the age of 13 I harbored a desire to become a third-world dictator, but that was more a megalomaniac fantasy than a true political belief.

  32. Cicero

    I think the closest I've come to a "revelation" has come from ending up with a bunch of friends in the military. Once upon a time…let's say that I was rather anti-death penalty, and now I don't have a whole lot of patience for certain groups we've gotten stuck fighting.*

    Though there were elements of this before (this isn't exactly a 180-degree turn; I attended a pro-Iraq War rally, but that was as much to spite the anti-war left as anything), I'll say that a certain amount of nuance has, if anything, fallen off on this front. I'd say that I went from "center right" to "makes Attila the Hun look like a hippy".

    If you want some irony, this has actually fed a level of disgust with the leadership of the US military…if just because I frequently get the feeling that they're lying to Congress to support whatever policies they're told to support.** I respect the guys serving over there, but to paraphrase a quote from 19th Century Britain: I hold somebody in contempt over how the military is dealt with…I'm just not sure who.

    *Oh, I still say let them have a round of due process, and even give them access to civilian rules of evidence and the like. People do get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially in an asymmetric war like Afghanistan. But per the Geneva Conventions, the US is /well/ within its rights to just shove guerillas in front of a firing squad as spies/saboteurs, and that right should probably be exercised with decent frequency.

    I'm also frequently disgusted with the amount of restraint put on American troops with regard to engaging "Team B", whomever that might be…but that's partly because I know some of those guys and so it gets rather personal for me…

    **I will use the DADT repeal here as an example: When all of the senior brass "switch sides" on the issue (JJ did a cartoon on this topic), you've got three options: 1) They didn't have even a moderately strong opinion on the policy or its effects; 2) They all had a "walk in the snow" in the space of a few years; or 3) They were lying one time or the other. I generally find #2 to be unlikely, leaving "either you didn't care either way or you lied" as the two options. Mind you, this isn't the only such case of something like this (the fact that the military is deeming Afghanistan a success while casualties were going through an obvious spike in 2009/10 is another case where things just don't ring true).

  33. David

    When I first became politically aware as a teenager (about 25 years ago), I was in the NDP camp. My parents, while I was never really fully aware of what their political leanings were (still aren't, in part due to the fact that their views have changed in 25 years as well (definitely more to the right)) I could tell were at least somewhere left of centre. My ad worked for a provincial crown corporation and, in that time, the PCs were in power in our province. My dad never missed an opportunity to rail against the sitting premier and how he's been screwing over the employees of his particular crown corp – I figured they were probably NDP supporters as a result (in my province, Manitoba, there's really only two parties to speak of, PC or NDP, Liberals never really have been a deciding factor in provincial politics, at least not for a *long* while).

    As I got to research politics more, I found I liked the NDP as well, especially what I saw as their sticking up for the poor. In my late high school and university years (I attended a *very* left of centre university), as I read Marx and Orwell, and learned about things like the WInnipeg General Strike and the labour movements of the early 20th century, I definitely saw myself as a socialist. (BTW, yes, I have always been aware of the irony of reading Orwell (particularly *anti* communist works like Animal Farm and 1984 leading me to socialism myself. Never have been able to explain that one.). After graduation, my views were slightly less radical, but always in the socialist and/or NDP camp.

    Fast forward to the fall of 2010. I'm a candidate in the local school trustee elections. (I'm not under a party, as school trustee candidates (as well as councillor and mayoral candidates) are non-partisan here, but the few media interviews I've been given I do mention my left-of-centerness, especially since the area I'm running in is a blue-collar NDP stronghold, usually.) I don't win (but get a respectable amount of votes and don't come in last, so I'm pleased). A few days after the election, the leader of the provincial Liberal party contacts me personally and wants to know if I'd be interested in running in the provincial election next fall (October, 2011). I was somewhat taken aback, as I've always identified as a NDP. However, when I went to the Liberal office, and read their brochures on what the Liberal party stands for and their party policies, I found myself agreeing with pretty much everything I had read. I figured, when I was a teen, I was forming my opinions based on what others had told me about the parties, not from any research I'd done on my own about what the parties actually stand for.) I signed my Liberal membership papers that week, joining my first political party formally.

    (Another amusing thing was that a few months later was the "controversy" that the CBC Vote Compass for the spring federal election was saying that people were Liberal, even an aide of Harper's came out that way. Which of course means that the Liberal-loving CBC rigged it that way. After finding that I was also closely matched with the Liberals, I preferred to think of it as my new-found knowledge about what the party stands for (it's quite a wide-open tent) – had I taken it back when I considered myself NDP, I might have been saying it was fixed too, but now I realize I may just have been a closet Liberal all along. (And so was that aide of Harper's, apparently. ;) )

    BTW, I didn't win the party nomination for the election, so wasn't the candidate in the election (another woman, who interestingly got half the votes in the provincial election that I got in the school trustee election a year previously), but I like to think that the whole experience made me a lot more aware of my own politics and beliefs, and made me grow as a politically aware creature. Oh, and I never fail to thank the provincial Liberal leader for bringing me to that realization every time I manage to see him. :)