Social Question

thorninmud's avatar

How did you come by your overall political outlook?

Asked by thorninmud (17878 points ) July 6th, 2011

I know I didn’t get mine from poring over the constitution, and I bet you didn’t either. Setting aside what you see as the obvious merits of your political ideal, what were the influences in your upbringing that settled you into this particular way of seeing things? Did you have some kind of political epiphany, or has it just always seemed so?

How important were family influences, church, regional culture, travel, education, circle of friends, popular figures, individual politicians, world events, a particular cause dear to your heart?

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23 Answers

marinelife's avatar

My father’s doctrine was to treat everyone the same way – - fairly. That was my earliest influence.

When I went to college, it was very turbulent times. I found myself opposed to the Vietnam War. That also influenced my political beliefs.

Seelix's avatar

The main source of political influence in my teen life was punk rock music, hence my far-left attitudes.

Jeruba's avatar

My parents were Eisenhower Republicans. Very religious, very conservative, very traditional. I held onto the family politics right through Kennedy’s election. I was in Massachusetts, and I took an awful lot of guff at school for my Nixon-Lodge button. Bucking the trend never bothered me, but I did that without any conviction behind it, I blush to say. Maybe that was because when I was little I thought Eisenhower was related to us somehow—we loved him, after all, and he looked like a grandpa—and I never got over the disappointment of discovering that we had to form a new relationship every four or eight years. I envied the British for their constancy. (I watched the last British coronation live on TV. I guess I still feel a little bit envious.)

Going to college in the mid-1960s broadened my views considerably. I’ve pretty much hung with hippie politics ever since, tempered a bit by the inevitable process of age and experience but still pretty damned liberal and idealistic. I don’t think my father ever understood, but my mother ended up a Clinton Democrat.

TexasDude's avatar

My views have evolved along with my personality and personal traits.

I was raised the son of divorced parents. My mom has been atheistic and practically apolitical as long as I can remember, though she does tend to lean towards right-libertarianism. We never had much money, but mom worked hard to make sure I had what I needed. Her parents are non-practicing Baptists and are mostly apolitical, but slightly liberal. My dad is a protestant Christian and a conservatism, though he hates most Republicans. He worked in the medical field and was middle class.

I remember telling people I was a Republican when I was younger, though I didn’t know what that meant at the time and I don’t remember where I first heard the term from. As I grew older, I had my first real exposure to politics in my 9th grade Current Issues and my Creative Writing class. Both teachers insisted that all conservatives are retards and you are only truly enlightened if you are a Democrat. By this time, I was struggling with my Christian faith, and I adapted extremely far-left liberalism as a political ideology. I supported Dennis Kucinich, I thought that Bush was secretly trying to establish a theocracy to kill all the gays and brown people, and I thought that anyone to the right of Chairman Mao should be “re-educated” and put on the straight and narrow. I tried hard to reconcile my Christian beliefs with this ideology, and my politics became much less extreme and I became a sort of Hippie-Christian liberal, though most of my peers who ascribed to the same viewpoint rejected me because of my extremely pro-gun views that I have always had. I was also struggling with depression and extreme anxiety issues during this time that I directed as rage towards anyone different from me politically.

As I grew older, I rapidly grew tired of Christianity and I more or less became extremely hostile to the religion and I became an atheist. It was also during this time that I took a sharp turn to the right. I became very cynical of my teachers who influenced me as a teenager, and I started to realize that they were extremely bigoted and narrow-minded. During this time, I was rather hawkish, but my libertarian streak was starting to grow stronger. This is also when I started making my own money and I developed a business-savvy streak.

As I grew even older, I became much less hostile to Christianity and religion in general, and I started studying religions such as Sufism and different forms of Buddhism, and I started valuing religious philosophical thought. I also got over my depression and anxiety and became extremely self-reliant. This is also when I started studying old homesteading skills and I started to become an outdoorsman. This is when my libertarian views came into their own as I began to really value individual liberty. I also became an old-school conservationist in the style of Theodore Roosevelt at this point, and I’ve pretty much been this way ever since: a happy, self-reliant lowercase-l libertarian conservationist pseudo-agnostic who has no problem with religion and I’m equally skeptical of anyone who proudly and unquestioningly ascribes to both liberalism or conservatism, because I have done both.

And I love punk rock.

Blackberry's avatar

I grew up poor and around other poor people lol…....Can you guess what I am?

Cruiser's avatar

I learned to read and get the facts from reliable sources.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I don’t like being told what to do, so I am a libertarian.

It really is that simple.

JLeslie's avatar

I think my mom, being raised an atheist, being interested in the sciences throughout my life, being around many immigrants most of my life, and many gay people, and hating Reagan for increasing the deficit.

My mom was always a Democrat, but she voted Republican at times, and my dad was a Republican willing to vote Democrat. Growing up issues like abortion were a non-issue, of course if I got pregnant my mom would be hauling me off to the abortion line. It seemed to me the Democrats cared more about minorities, which I cared about also. My father worked for the Surgeon General under Reagan when AIDS hit the seen, and how the Reagan administration stifled Surgeon General Koop’s ability to inform the public on the matter of HIV was disgusting. When I said to my dad how much I hated the national debt getting larger under Reagan, he gave me some song and dance about why it was good. My dad, who had basically no debt, except for a very small mortgage at the time. It made no sense to me.

As I got older the religious right seemed more and more obvious to me as controlling the Republicans (even though the Reagan example about how HIV was handled had to do with the religious right). There were issues I agreed with the Republicans, but I just could not identify myself as one.

During Clinton I realized how much I am a Democrat, if he is a Democrat. Cares about the balanced budget, wanted to allow gays in the military, although he made a crappy compromise (he says the opposition was impossible and full of hate that he had not predicted) seemed to care about all citizens equally. He vetoed partial birth. He made a good decision to loan Mexico money which many were against. He was interested in science and innovation. Other world leaders respected him. There are many many good things he did. I certainly don’t think he was a perfect President, but I do think he was very good, and overall represented how I think about things in terms of the path for the country.

YARNLADY's avatar

My father was a staunch Democrat, and over the years, I noticed most of my favorite candidates, the ones who support the same issues I do, are Democrats.

Bellatrix's avatar

I grew into it after many, many influences. My father’s perspectives on politics (I always found him to be a wise and reasonable man. He was very analytical), the rest of my family’s ideas, teachers and lecturers who introduced me to ideas and information I hadn’t considered before, friends and their views, my own reading, current affairs and events, watching Question Time, my own life experience. Everything and anything can influence our political views I think.

syz's avatar

Possibly initially as an unconscious act of rebellion against my parents. Dad was pretty conservative Republican, Mom was uninformed and has still never voted. The town I grew up in was small, rather “redneck” and Republican. Then my horizons were pretty dramatically broadened with college, a couple trips to Europe, and a six week stint in a third world country.

Symbeline's avatar

I don’t really understand politics much at all, so it’s hard to say where I lean. From what I do get, I’m probably probbaly pretty lefty. Like @Blackberry I pretty much grew up in poverty, so maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe it’s because I’m a big pessimist and think that society sucks lol. I got that from my dad. He brainwashed me. XD

Kayak8's avatar

My parents were always open minded. They had very diverse friends and some early experiences of intolerance on the part of others that really impacted them and they shared this with us (in a kid-appropriate way). We were encouraged to learn and explore and question. Although my dad was a republican and mom was a democrat, they teased about cancelling out each others votes. My dad was more fiscally conservative but both were more socially liberal. I was brought up in the church but our 6th grade Sunday school classes went to different churches and other places of worship and would debrief “what about each belief system was different? what was similar?”

I figured out I was gay when I was in junior high but it wasn’t really a topic of discussion until right after high school. Then the AIDS epidemic came along and I got to see, first-hand, how badly people behaved. Although I live a rather self-reflective life, looking out for the underdog has always figured prominently in our family’s values and my personal politics.

jerv's avatar

I have always been against stupidity and those less logical than me, which is a lower bar than you might think. (I can be pretty damn illogical sometimes; just ask my wife :D).

I have also always been a big supporter of fairness, though not always equality. By that, I mean that I think that those who work harder and/or have special skills deserve more than those who don’t, but that doesn’t mean that a lazy and/or unskilled person deserves to be homeless and starving, nor does a one-in-a-million athlete deserve to earn eight-figure incomes merely for doing what kids do for free only better.

Long ago, blatantly ignoring facts was a pet peeve of mine, but over the years it’s become a psychotic fucking hatred. Needless to say, this era where you can make shit up wholesale and get a few million people to mindlessly believe it wholeheartedly has made me a bit of a bastard, especially when discussing politics, economics, religion, or technology.

Basically, my political leanings are a result of my personality. Nothing explicitly shaped them; they are an extension of the attitudes I hold towards non-political things as well.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I was raised a Southern Democrat and quickly learned to hate the racism. I was a Goldwater Republican in the first election I was able to vote in, but voted for McCarthy after I got back from Vietnam. Fortunately, I figured out that freedom was more important than the State and became a Libertarian.

Rarebear's avatar

@Seelix Query: I don’t know punk music at all, so excuse my ignorance. I always thought that punk music was countercultural, antiestablishment, anti state, pro-individualism, etc. To me, “far left” means basically socialism, which is, in essence, state run institutions, and subsuming individualism for the greater social good. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with being a socialist but from my limited understanding punk music and socialism would preach contrary goals. It seems to me that a closer political philosophy would be libertarianism. But again, I’m sure I’m ignorant, but I’m just curious.

jerv's avatar

@Rarebear Nowadays, “Far Left” is not submitting to corporations and caring more about society as a whole than about enhancing shareholder value so that the financial elite and multinational companies can get richer. Times have changed.

CaptainHarley's avatar

No, “Far left” is wanting to give more power to the state so it can take more money from those who earned it to give to those who won’t work for it.

Rarebear's avatar

Well, I wasn’t really interested in getting into a debate about what liberalism is, but I was interested in the relationship between punk rock and leftism.

Seelix's avatar

@Rarebear – Your initial description is accurate to a degree, but in my opinion that only describes a fraction of punk music. You might be thinking of the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys – a more current band that leans more toward the anarchist ideology is Anti-Flag (others might be able to add to the list, but I’m not all that up on anarcho-punk).

@jerv describes my idea of “far left” pretty well, though there are elements of socialism and communism that my views and others who hold them support. Bands like Propagandhi, NOFX, Bad Religion, Billy Bragg, and The Weakerthans fit that bill a little more neatly.

I’m not about to get into a huge discussion about what “far left” actually means, because in my opinion, there’s no one political ideology that can accurately describe one’s views with no contradiction whatsoever. Of the major parties in Canada, I’m a mix of Green and NDP with a smattering of Communist and even Liberal. Just know that while I understand and respect @CaptainHarley‘s opinion as a veteran, his very selective wording doesn’t describe my personal views at all.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley That is what it used to mean, but listening to many Conservatives these days, I will stand by my assertion until I hear a lot of people on your side of the aisle admit that getting more money than you actually earn is at least as bad as being a welfare state, especially when you compound that by taxing the hardest working people (the middle class and small businesses) heavily while someone who just sits in the corner office pays half as much (percentage-wise) and their multinational company pays nothing.
Why should I have to spend my hard-earned money so that some CEO can keep $32 million of his income instead of paying the same percentage as people who earn 100 times less and being forced to live on a mere $28 million? If you oppose subsidizing the lazy our giving people more than they earn then why do you and I fight all the time?

CaptainHarley's avatar

I dunno. Semantics? : )

Rarebear's avatar

@Seelix Thanks. You answered my question perfectly!

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