Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughts on 2000-2009

If someone had told me on December 31, 1999 that in ten years time I would not only be a conservative but publicly espousing these views in a weekly column and a heretofore unknown mechanism known as a blog I would have dismissed that person out of hand.

Yet it is December 31, 2009. I am a conservative and am espousing conservative views in a weekly column and on this blog.

This decade began for me in Ottawa where I spent most of the 1990s at university and adjusting to the real world. At the time I was unemployed and wanted to find work in politics - progressive politics as it was at the time. With nothing happening in Canada on that front I took advantage of my dual American citizenship and applied for work down here.

In the middle of January 2000 I went to New York for a job interview with -- wait for it -- ACORN. So yes Barack Obama and I do have something in common. I ended up getting the job and was assigned to Boston. I moved here late in March and started the community organizing position the following month.

I'll spare you the gory details but let's just say things didn't work out as I had hoped. The death of my maternal grandfather complicated matters somewhat. But I didn't belong there and I left ACORN scarcely two weeks after I had started.

I ended up working with the state child abuse hotline. That was one hell of a job. I got to hear the worst of humanity almost on a daily basis. But drafting child abuse reports gave me an opportunity to hone my writing skills. Unfortunately, being male and not having an academic background in social work did not endear me to many of my colleagues and I reluctantly ended up leaving that job.

It was the summer of 2001. For six weeks it was bliss. I took a couple of trips to Ottawa and Toronto. After not getting along for some period with my female roommate we became great friends. In the midst of all this I found work with a vocational rehabilitation agency in Lynn, Massachusetts.

The company picnic took place my fourth day on the job. It was September 11, 2001.

The enormity of what happened that day changed me irrevocably. The NDP, my political party in Canada, was preoccupied with blaming the United States for what had happened. Then the Israel bashing soon followed. I couldn't associate myself with a political party or an ideology that not only excused Islamic terrorism but essentially denied it.

But for the previous thirteen years I had defined myself as a social democrat. When I woke up in the morning that's how I thought of myself. I breathed, ate and drank social democracy. Where did this leave me in the grand scheme of things? The year or so following September 11 was a very depressing time for me.

The only people who were making sense to me were conservatives - the very people I had spent the previous thirteen years opposing. But during my days as a social democrat I made a point of reading conservative thought. If I am going to argue against someone I want to know what they are actually thinking. But for the first time I found myself more often in agreement than disagreement with conservatives. By the end of 2002, I came to the conclusion I had become a conservative.

Of course, most of the people in this part of the country are very left-wing. Especially the poetry circuit. I was constantly hearing poetry about how awful Bush was and what a bad country we were. This annoyed me to no end. But instead of complaining I ended up writing poetry that said how good Bush was and what a great country we had the good fortune of finding ourselves. It annoyed the audience. I was starting to find my niche.

Shortly before the War in Iraq, there was a website launched called Poets Against The War. These poets had launched the site because they were mad Laura Bush invited them to the White House. Then they were mad when Laura Bush uninvited them.

A fellow from Michigan named Charley Weatherford launched a countersite called Poets For The War. I sent Charley some of my poems and before I knew it I was being interviewed on the BBC and NPR. Unfortunately, neither FNC nor Rush called. Oh well.

But in March 2003 I received an invitation to start writing a column for a website called America's Voices. Later that year, I would begin my writing my weekly column for Intellectual Conservative and six years later I'm still doing it. That has to count for something.

Despite the election of President Obama it has been a good year for me. The American Spectator has posted several of my columns this year. Including my latest column about the MLB Network. Ten years ago I might have seen myself getting published in The Nation or Mother Jones. But certainly not The American Spectator.

Someone asked me just today if I make my living by writing. I only wish. No, for the past six years I have been working for an insurance company currently in receipt of federal funding. It pays the bills.

Now I would love to earn my keep strictly through my writing but I have few illusions. When you are conservative you understand the difference between optimism and wishful thinking. But if I were never to be paid to write an article again it wouldn't deter me from writing. I'm always thinking about my next column. By constantly thinking about my next column it means there is something to which I can look forward. In the grand scheme of things there's not much else for which I can ask other than to inhale and exhale.

The best weapon there is against Islamic fundamentalism is to live freely. I will continue to do so to the best of my ability in the next decade to come. Happy New Year.

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