I’m sure it’s happened to many people. They consider themselves mostly liberal in their leanings, but maybe have a contrarian streak. There are some ways of stating the liberal positions that are off-putting. Generally, these will be minor annoyances at first. These people consider themselves open minded, so they welcome the more intelligent commentary from the other side, and are willing to consider other points of view. We know the saying about a liberal not being able to take his own side in an argument.
At some point, the intelligent position on the other side starts to seem appealing, in some ways. The person starts a lot of sentences with, “I’m liberal, but…” For some people, there will a tipping point, where the old liberal positions don’t seem as appealing. They will be former liberals.
This is totally me. I was a very typical academic leftie simply because I never encountered any alternative. There was no opportunity for me to discover what “the other side” thought about anything. I simply accepted my side’s narrative about what the other side believed.
Then, my side went collectively nuts over Trump. I couldn’t watch any of my favorite TV shows or read any of my favorite periodicals or authors. I can’t quit all political reading and watching, though. It’s a great hobby of mine, and I feel deprived when I don’t get any.
So out of sheer desperation I decided to check out what “the other side” was saying. Mostly, I just wanted a confirmation that it was even crazier than “my side.”
And that’s when I discovered that the other side’s worldview was a lot more coherent and a lot deeper than my side’s. The biggest thing for me is that the other side’s explanation of the opponents wasn’t that they are all stupid, bigoted, racist haters. The idea that everybody who disagrees, even in some minuscule way, is beyond the pale and needs to be hounded out of existence wasn’t there. It’s a more nuanced worldview, and I’m all about that. Plus, there are no speech codes to observe, so the writing is a lot better.
Many people never get to hear the other side. They hear their own side’s fantasy of what the opponents believe. I guess, I feel like a person who grew up in an evangelical cult and was schooled to think that everybody outside the cult is a perverted evildoer. And then left the cult and found out that it was all a lie.