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How I Became a Conservative

Could it have happened without my father, Alfred Hornik?

by
P. David Hornik

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July 28, 2013 - 9:00 am
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In the fall of 1971, when I was in twelfth grade, I started to grow my hair long. A failed basketball player, still loosely socially affiliated with the athletes, I knew that the next fall I’d be in college. There, I thought, I could really fit in—and find a great girlfriend or two, unlike anything that had happened in high school.

At that time the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was winding down. The draft was on the way to being abolished, so guys my age didn’t have to think about what they would do if they were drafted.

But “the war” was still a hot topic. In my school, it was a social marker: if you were “for the war,” you were more likely to be with the jocks and cheerleaders, an assertive patriot; those “against the war” were more likely to be on the “freak” side of the spectrum, more into loud music than sports, marijuana than beer. As for America, it was “Amerika,” venal and “imperialist” if not worse.

As part of the change I felt myself to be effectuating, I started to say things like, “It’s not our fight.” “I don’t know what we’re doing over there, wasting all that money when we could be spending it on social programs.”

It did not come out of genuine, deep thought or engagement with the issues. Once I had wanted to be cool by being a star basketball player; but I was only a mediocre one. Now I would be cool by being an intellectual firebrand, a scourge of the establishment.

Demographically speaking, that strategy made more sense. Though I didn’t yet understand it in such terms, I was a secular Jew with a strong yen for the arts and humanities. In most places in the world where Jews live, people of that description are overwhelmingly on the left; indeed, a good many people in the colleges I went to belonged to that description.

There was only one obstacle to my march toward—so I thought—coolness, popularity, and success with the girls as an “establishment”-basher: Alfred Hornik.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm not so sure. I hate what they are doing, and find myself extremely teed off after reading one piece after another about the ruthlessness with which the left operates, how they think and how they view the right.
But the feeling I have for the left is more along the lines of contempt, borne of a disbelief that intelligent people can actually think that way and support their ideological leaders unquestioningly despite clear evidence of where it is leading us all.
The conservative commentators I read regularly seem to write with that same sort of feelings, which may be part of the reason I feel that way. But the few liberal sites I frequent do speak of us with hatred in their words. In that you are entirely correct - they hate us for what we are.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for writing this. As I approach the tenth anniversary of my father's death, I often wonder how he would feel about shift from tepid liberal to conservative. Surprised maybe, but more likely amused that common sense had finally come to me. He knew lefty BS when he saw it and while he embraced the virtues of social justice as any good Catholic would he not compromise his solidly faith based conservative principles. I miss him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have theory that the reason Leftists spend so much time talking about:
Stereotypes
Racism
Hatred
Corruption
Tolerance

...is because, in general, Leftists are:
Most likely to see everyone as stereotyped characters
Racist
Hateful
Corrupt
Completely intolerant

In other words, those things are projections of themselves. They can't face it in themselves, so they project it on others and pretend they're the problem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (34)
All Comments   (34)
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i became a conservative Republican in 1963 when I was eight years old. Seriously. My dad was took me that day to the polling station in Houston, Tx. to cast his vote for Goldwater. Outside the elementary school building/polling station an LBJ-button bedecked fellow accosted my dad on the sidewalk with, "Ain't it great we gonna have a Texan in the WH! Go LBJ!" My dad calmly replied that he was voting for Goldwater. At that, the man's veins stared pumping, eyes bulging, he started ranting and raving. I cannot remember anything that was said, it was over my head. But I remember the demeanor, the attitude, the intention of the ranting Democrat and my dad's calmed reasoned responses. I got it. It wasn't that hard. Never even dreamed of being a liberal Democrat, even during my years as a rebellious hippie in the 70's. Those years I just had fun with the drugs, the road, the travel, the girls....and stayed out of politics.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
David, our dads were born the same year; mine left us back in '94. I followed a similar path in college though I'm a few years older than you. Anti-war demonstrations were a great way to meet girls, smoke some wacky tobacky, and have fun.

My path to conservatism was more 9/12 than anything. But once I saw what was happening in '02 and '03, it was fairly rapid with very little looking back. I think I am now an outlier in my family both immediate and extended. I didn't have a Mamet Moment but his VV essay was great.

My dad never really talked politics or if he did, I didn't pay attention. That's what happens when youth is wasted on the young. Thanks for the article.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Enjoyed this very much. A very nice tribute to your father.

Neither of my parents were intellectuals of any sort (though my mom had a very high IQ, around 156, I think), but they were Republicans. My inner conservative was awakened when I read a paperback my mom had lying around amidst the hundreds of others she'd been reading -- it was William F. Buckley's "Up From Liberalism." The cliché goes, "If you're not a liberal at age 18, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at age 35, you have no brain." I must not have had a heart; I skipped that part completely.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your father was wise, Mr. Hornik.

Thanks for the column.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hornik strikes me as, not a conservative, but an Israeli nationalist. I have nothing against Israeli nationalists, mind you, but I do like to keep my categories clear.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure why one can't be both--an Israeli nationalist and a conservative.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
By far, the best thing I've ever read on PJMedia.
I was 8 years old in '71 and never got to see the positioning the Left was using against Nixon or have first hand experience of the anti-Vietnam movement. It is reassuring, in a bizarre sense, that the Left was demonstrating the same psychotic break with Reality that they are clearly demonstrating today. Since Reagan would appear on the scene 10 years later, it gives me hope that the country will, within the next decade, wake up to the fundamental insanity of the Left and turn their backs on them once again.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I became a conservative when I realized that it was actually the conservatives that cared about right and wrong, and were willing to accept sacrifice to help others.

I guess you can say that liberal sensibilities drove me to conservatism.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I went into the military right out of high school and have little to no memory of political thinking for quite a few years. Long before I retired after 22 years, I realized I was a staunch Conservative and never reflected on the reason.

In hindsight, I believe my political leanings were a product of at least two things. First, in the military, obeying the rules is important and fighting the rules is a dead end street. Second, and most importantly, in the military we knew or quickly learned that there a right and a wrong.

During GQ drills, up and forward to starboard and down and aft to port just made sense. As such, I left with a strong feelings for common sense and with training began to think analytically. When I read and hear the total BS that the Lefties spout, I shake my head in wonder. How could an educated person possibly believe this crap?

Talking common sense and analytical thinking to a Lefty is frustrating, to say the least, but, with some forethought, one can plant some seeds in the mind that might, just might, give fruit out of the barren soil of the Lefts' minds.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fabulous piece of writing and history of your evolving thought. It's amazing to me how 74% of Jewish voters went for Obama in '08 and 70% in '12. As a secular-humanist Austrian-economic free-market thinker.......and staunch defender of Israel even though I have no 'dog in the fight'......I feel the importance of defending Israel....and unfortunately the Democrats do not. Very sad. I don't really understand it. Then again I don't understand Liberal so-called intellectuals' basic economic-illiteracy either.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
At first glance, the anti-Israel stance of the Left in America seems to be just naked, shallow imitation of the totalitarian 'ethnic strawman' propaganda of the Soviets. The fact that the Nazis used this as well strongly suggests to me that this is a major confirmation of the underlying authoritarian, totalitarian nature of the American Left and its ideology/theology.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr.Hornik sr. sounds like the sort of parent we should all try to emulate. This story has inspired me to write my own account (finally!) of how I left the Left, not because it's in any way unique but because it's more common than our opponents will ever admit. And for that reason, these stories need to be told.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please share! I find these accounts immensely interesting.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was also in high school during the early 70's and I remember how many of my classmates would cut school to join in the Viet Nam war protests and I would be asked to join them. My response to them was that I could not bring myself to protest against our own soldiers. I was 15 then and realized much later that I was a conservative all along. This article is a keeper.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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