Thursday, May 30, 2013

How I got interested in politics

Most of those I associate with online have seen my political posts. I was particularly politically active during the last two elections, and people saw that I could be outspoken about the subject. Some have witnessed political arguments I have gotten into, and seen the debater side of me.

My interest in politics is no secret, and I have said that my blog is "part history, part politics, and part random other stuff." But I have not posted before about how I got interested in politics. At the risk of boring my friends, I will now share some of the story about how I got interested in politics.

Bill Clinton, the first president I really remember

Getting into politics in middle school

I probably would have gotten into politics at some point in any case, because I suspect that an interest in politics is in my genes, and that my argumentative side is probably a personality trait that I was born with. But I really started to get interested in politics in middle school. I remember presidential elections as far back as 1996, but I never got into them enough to remember anything but the names of the two main candidates (like Bill Clinton, shown above). It was in middle school that I really started to get into politics.

The influence of Rush Limbaugh ...

So what started this interest, you might ask? Actually, it was a book introduced to me by my best friend growing up. Not everyone has heard of its title, but most have heard of its author, because it was none other than Rush Limbaugh. I can envision liberals saying "Ah, he was brainwashed," because that is the only way liberals can think of to account for liking Rush Limbaugh. But as my conservative friends know, this explanation is almost universally wrong, and it was certainly so in my case.

The ideas and values of conservatives

The book was called "The Way Things Ought To Be," and it taught me about the issues that have been a part of American politics for the last several decades. It introduced me to the ideas and values of conservatives, and got me excited about them. I am grateful that these ideas were introduced to me at such a formative time in my life, because my extensive exposure to liberal ideas has tended to convince me that it was the conservative ideas of my youth that were good ones. This book, and the sequel called "See, I Told You So," were both formative books in my life.

Following the news, and getting into debates

I also began following the news regularly at this stage of my life - partly because I had a job delivering newspapers, and thus took a greater interest in the newspaper's content. I had the kind of personality that was well cut out for debate, as my parents could attest; and as I moved into political classes in high school (like history and government), this interest in debating became more public. I knew when to avoid controversy, and when to charge right into it; and I discovered with some surprise that I had the ability to influence others in classroom discussions. I was difficult to argue with, and prided myself on my ability to be so.

Mandatory debates for high school government class

My government class required me to argue politics before debate judges, and I discovered that I was fairly good at it, and did well in that class. I was thinking then about majoring in history or political science as a pre-law major, and later becoming a lawyer. My dad had said nice things about it, saying that someone as argumentative as me might be good at it. I was not flattered then by his mention of my argumentative nature, but have since realized that he meant it as a compliment, as he has clarified that that was what he meant.


Thomas Hobbes

Exposure to political ideas in college

Entering college both increased and decreased the prominence of politics in my life. On the downside, it robbed me of the time to follow the news closely, and inform myself about current political events; but on the upside, I was exposed to the classics of political philosophy, from Plato to Thomas Hobbes to Karl Marx. My first college class in philosophy ignited a powerful interest in political philosophy, which inspired me to read some of the classics in my spare time.

Karl Marx

The relevance of economics to politics (and of marketing to politics)

I did not end up majoring in history or political science, or even taking a political science class (just business law), but I did take a large number of economics classes, and ended up getting a Certificate in Business Economics. Thus, despite majoring in business, I did have a significant amount of political content in my college career, in economics and other classes. I even discovered that my marketing classes had strong applications to politics, because political battles are largely won by advertising, polls, and PR. I thought about entering marketing research, and would not object to going into political polling.

Political involvement on Facebook

When I entered my junior year of college, I started following the news again, but in a less traditional way - namely, social media. I joined Facebook, and began to see others posting about politics. My desire to avoid controversy led me to avoid posting about it at first, but I gradually began to get into it, particularly after the disastrous presidential elections of 2008, which brought Obamanomics onto the national scene. I had entered the political scene again, and this time, I would not again leave it.

Barack Obama

Continued reading about political ideas

Graduating from college again gave me the time to follow the news through traditional means like newspapers, but I have never actually resumed doing so. I keep meaning to, but have not given it much priority lately, instead relying on Facebook and word-of-mouth to keep me informed of major developments. I did, however, continue reading about political philosophy, including a major work by some of America's Founding Fathers (the Federalist Papers), which I have often been glad I read.

Political content in my historical pursuits (including presidential biographies)

I was also exposed to politics in my historical pursuits, and none moreso than in my extensive devouring of American presidential biographies. I collected biographical documentaries about numerous American presidents, and learned a lot about both the dramas of their elections, and the complexities of their legacies. It was a fascinating hobby, though it reinforced my early desire to avoid running for political office. If I were to enter politics, I'd rather be on the marketing or polling end of it, not on the executive or legislative side - and with my loss of interest in becoming a lawyer, the judicial side also had little appeal to me.

Politics continues to be important for me

And yet politics has been a passion of mine for many years, and an important part of my life. I've been glad for the opportunity to debate, learn about political philosophy, hear about prominent presidents of America's past, and campaign for conservatism online. My political pursuits have been a fascinating journey, and one that I would not have had any other way. I am glad for the opportunity I've had to get involved in American politics.

Other posts about politics

Posts about presidents, education, the economy, the Constitution, and current events & issues

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