Shawn Mercer is a sophomore integrated life sciences major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]
I remember when then-Sen. Barack Obama was running for the presidency. I remember the distaste for President George W. Bush I had felt and how people had called him “stupid,” an “idiot” and other derogatory names. I also remember that when Obama announced his candidacy, he epitomized the “not Bush.” He was going to end the wars, close Guantanamo Bay, cut the deficit, change the political climate in Washington, stop the glaciers from melting and ultimately change America in all the ways in which Bush had supposedly messed it up.
I was part of the Young Democrats club at my high school, and I remember the excitement and energy around Obama, as he seemed to be the answer to our prayers. I watched the 2008 election results come in and was overjoyed that our next president would be Obama.
I did something strange after this; I decided to turn on the evil Fox News. I had remembered throughout middle school how some of my liberal friends used to call it “Fox Noise” and how they would discredit anybody who watched it as a radical right-winger. I figured I owed it to the other side to check out their perspective.
This was an epiphany in my life in terms of my political views. I began to understand why I had not liked Bush. He had run up a massive deficit, along with Congress, to pay for two wars. He had not been living up to the conservative values in which he ran on, and he was surely not a fiscal conservative.
Over the next four years, I watched as runaway spending under Bush took a turn for the worse under Obama. I hoped for cuts in the budget deficit, but every year it increased like clockwork.
Over these four years, I began to understand the tenants of conservatism. The belief that small government is best rang especially true with me. One problem remained that I could not reconcile with my own beliefs, and that was our massive military spending and policing of the world.
I was still decidedly anti-war, and I slowly began to realize that I was not quite a conservative. This was about the time I discovered Ron Paul and the libertarian movement.
This ideology — emphasizing personal liberty, free trade and small government — was a perfect fit for me. I could reconcile my past distaste for Bush and my current distaste for Obama.
Currently, I still have hope for the Republican Party; I believe there is a large movement within its ranks toward small government and fiscal conservatism. I believe the best hope for this nation is a Republican Party with a new focus on personal liberty, and I see it happening as we speak.
I share this journey of mine in hope that you do a little research of your own and to encourage you to listen to the opposing viewpoint. It might change your whole perspective on politics, as it did mine.