Last August I was contacted by a member of Jay Dixit's staff for the forthcoming article in Psychology Today. My response to Dixit is reproduced in full below.
Actually I was a Democrat for about a year; prior to that I was a member of the Green Party for about seven years, and was very active with the Greens when I first moved to Oregon in early 2000.
As you can probably guess, September 11 changed things, but not as abruptly for me, I think as for some people. Politically I've always described myself as "liberal" (not conservative and not "progressive" either), and have never been a pacifist. I was hawkish on both Afghanistan and Iraq, and did not attempt to conceal my views from my comrades in the local GP chapter. To their credit, they never tried to pressure me to change my views (as much as they disagreed) or leave the party. That decision was my own.
I could kind of "sit out" the Afghan campaign as a Green, but Iraq was different. For one thing, the rhetoric was growing stronger, and the case for invading Iraq was harder to make for the general public (since there was no obvious connection with 9/11 as in the case of Afghanistan). Mostly, though, it was because my feelings as a Desert Storm vet who knew something about Saddam's regime would not let me continue.
I became a Liebercrat for about a year, until Joe Lieberman dropped out of the Democratic primary. (Er, the Democratic presidential primary, that is!) I changed my registration to Republican on the day he dropped out.
Interestingly enough, many of the same things that bothered me about the Democrats as a Green, still bother me as a Republican. Except for being able to form a consensus on a few issues, the Democrats have a hard time articulating what it is they stand for as a party. What really turns me off, though, is what I see as an "entitlement mentality" in elections: Democrats seem to think they deserve my vote simply because they are not Republicans.
I was one of the 52% who voted for Bush in 2004, and I guess I'm one of the 29% who still support him now. I support our campaign to transform the Middle East because it is fundamentally a liberal idea - and one that is both humane and necessary.
This doesn't mean that I agree with Bush on everything. Even so, though, the President's social conservatism strikes me as sincere and compassionate, and light-years away from the right-wing rhetoric of 70's figures like Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell.
My views on social issues have changed very little since, say, 10 years ago. In fact, my basic beliefs about gender, sexism, and gay issues are largely identical to Ampersand's. [Dixit's aide had found me through a comment I posted in Alas, a Blog. - aa] I am active in Oregon's gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon, and belong to the local gay-Jewish group.
On my political blog ("Dreams Into Lightning") I cover the War on Terror and gay and feminist issues. I don't see this as a contradiction; to me it's the positions of the left-wingers and the right-wingers that seem contradictory.
My politics would be called "neoconservative" now, but I don't consider myself a conservative and I'm not "neo" anything. I understand some things better than I did, but I've never had to radically change my belief structure. So I've had a "political conversion" in the sense that my political affiliations have changed, but I don't feel like there's been any kind of "road to Damascus" experience.
Remarks. At the time, I assumed that a gradual evolution of views such as I had expreienced after 9/11 was the exception; in retrospect, I suspect it is more common than the sudden "conversion experience" Jay Dixit was so eager to find. This makes the article's claim to relevance all the more hollow. Perhaps Dixit went out looking for those wild-eyed born-again conservatives he was expecting, and not finding them, realized he'd have to change the focus of his article - which might explain why the finished article is such an incoherent mess.