The Outside Outsider

Many traditionalists or “paleo-conservatives” in the United States are ex-Republicans. Or they are disaffected Republicans who still tend to vote for Republicans as a least-bad option but who also have a sour taste when doing so, given what the Republican party has come to stand for (i.e. heavy doses of liberalism dressed up in the rhetoric of the free market).

(Anyone who is A-OK with mainstream Republicans is not a serious conservative.)

I, on the other hand, have never been a Republican. As soon as I became vaguely politically aware (about the time of the Bush-Dukakis election, and more certainly during the Clinton-Dole election), I had been on the Left. I voted Nader, Nader, and Kerry in the three elections I voted in.

[Incidentally, the moment I stopped voting on the Left was the Obama-McCain election of 2008. I was voting absentee, living in New York City. An old friend and I, Bush-haters both, filled out our ballots together over a bottle of white wine at my Brooklyn apartment about a month before the election day. It was a little celebration. She was so happy to fill in the bubble for Obama, giggling and bubbly. I knew I hated McCain, and my long-standing Leftist stance had me on the Obama side of things. She took her ballot with her at the end of the night, and I set mine at the door-side table, wanting only a stamp. As the days passed by, the ballot kept sitting there, first for want of a stamp, but then more and more out of a vague reluctance. The day of the election, I picked up my ballot and looked at it, and threw it in the trash.]

My rejection of Leftist politics came first as a rejection of Obama, and of Democrats (and Greens and Communists) to which I had previously been sympathetic. I still considered the Republicans to be vile (and I still do, with a few hesitant exceptions). So in a sense my rejection of Leftism has been rather clean. I was never suckered into Republican-style Leftism. I was very, very far Left. And in a short time I became so far Right that I was clean off the map!

If you can imagine a circle of modern politics, where west is Left and east is Right, then north would be standard American political centrism (Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, John McCain). But I went south, into no-man’s-land. Left of Ralph Nader and Right of Michelle Bachmann. This is the murky land where you find anarchists, monarchists, and assorted other unsavory characters.

I might try and define my politics a little better in the future. As I said in an earlier post, it’s not totally unimportant. But, in another sense, it is unimportant. The circle I described exists on two dimensions. Life is three-dimensional.

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9 comments on “The Outside Outsider

  1. zhai2nan2 says:

    Do you remember Ross Perot?
    And what do you think of Ron Paul?

    • outofsleep says:

      It’s funny. Just today, coming back from a nice (difficult!) hike in the Olympic Mountains, my buddy and I were talking about Ross Perot. The discussion started over the question of when it became normal for US presidential candidates to speak of running the country like a business. It seems nice on the surface, especially for those of us who are disgusted with liberalism and constant government waste. Successful private businesses provide MUCH better service than government agencies. But, as my buddy pointed out, you can run a business into the ground, or take risks that don’t pan out, and the only person hurt is the entrepreneur himself. Doing so with a nation is a bad idea. Of course, we’re taking terrible financial risks with none of the benefits of entrepreneurship. The worst of both worlds. Still, it’s kind of juvenile to pretend that a nation is a corporation. It simply isn’t. Good rhetoric, good impulses, but jejune.

      Anyway, I noted that Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and Herman Cain all talk this way, and I wondered why? Ronald Reagan (who loved the free market) didn’t talk this way. My buddy pointed out: Ross Perot!

      Of course!

      As for Ron Paul, I am glad his voice gets (somewhat) heard, because he is anti-war and has many sane positions. But I agree with Lawrence Auster’s general critique of libertarianism in general. It’s not a proper basis for society. Ron Paul is, I believe, ultimately not a serious person. He’s a good sight more honest than your average neocon, and that is to his credit.

  2. Aurini says:

    The day any candidate actually cares about us vile sorts congregating down in the south, is the day when we need to start nailing things down. Anarchist and monarchist are plenty good enough to define me for now.

  3. Matty says:

    I’ll echo the Anarcho-Monarchist sentiments above, mostly as David Bentley Hart defined it in his First Things piece on the subject.

    I’m not surprised that you moved so quickly from the Far Left to Far Right. Both in fact discuss similar problems, and both draw from pools of the the somewhat to extremely intelligent disaffected. Leftists talk of alienation, the destruction of indigenous cultures, the Soul-killing materialism of the Modern West, things that people on the Far Right talk about all the time. The problems seen are (broadly) the same.

    Since the mainstream is the group implementing solutions, all outlying groups (radicals) tend to adopt more critical modes. Therefore these groups probably identify more with what they criticize than what the affirm (At least in the Left’s case). it is only through ideological enslaving that we don’t see more people making Quantum Leaps ™ from one side to the other. If many leftists could see authentic Conservatism, and if Conservatism could market itself effectively to some in the mainstream, it would be able to improve it’s numbers, and shift the national conversation. Ron Paul brought “Von Mises” into present political parlance, and people seriously talk about abolishing the Fed. If ONE MAN can do that much (albeit with the Mises Institute as a resource for seekers) imagine what a coordinated campaign by well-read, idiosyncratic conservatives could do?

    • outofsleep says:

      Similarly, encountering a single person with the shining eyes of the true monk can change for many around him the notion of what is possible in life. Both in politics and in personal life, we underestimate the transformative power that we all possess.

  4. Matty says:

    Correction: “It is only through ideological enclaving that we don’t see more people making…”

  5. Manwe says:

    Hmm, given your political map….I guess that means I live somewhere in the South East! 😀

  6. […] like the blogger at Out of Sleep, I was a devout member of the far-left before a swift and sudden turn to the far-right. Even as a […]

  7. […] a year or two–spent as an apolitical moderate. Several other right-wing bloggers, such as Daniel and Proph, report the same progression from one extreme to […]

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