Marty Beckerman, like many others in his generation and older, is a recovering Republican:
I should have seen the danger of sealing myself in an echo chamber to prevent contamination from outside viewpoints; I began only hanging out with conservative true believers, only reading conservative books, only getting my news from conservative media outlets. In order to avoid journalistic "left-wing bias," I embraced right-wing bias, foolishly confusing sensationalist entertainment with debate and truth-telling. Outrage became my drug of choice.
And at this point, the GOP are addicts. Because the addiction to outrage is easier than a commitment to actual conservative solutions to our current, actual problems. And I don't mean mere recitation of conservative dogma, a recourse to cliches such as "big government", or a binary left-vs-right paradigm that is blind to actual policy. I mean grappling with actual solutions to health insurance cruelty and expense, to climate change which is real, to Islamist terror that doesn't make global polarization worse.
This also strikes very close to home:
Just as morphing into an extremist took a couple years, un-becoming an extremist happened over time.
One by one I saw the flaws in conservative orthodoxy: attempting to fight terrorism with torture, which only aided our enemies' propaganda efforts and thus created more terrorists; seeking to liberalize the Muslim world while curtailing rights for gay people at home; criticizing public schools for lackluster results and therefore cutting funds further; disdaining the weak while never analyzing why they are weak; always seeing the effect but never the cause, which on a mass scale perpetuates the effect.
The 2008 financial crash further proved to me the necessity of an economic safety net within the market system; tying health insurance to employment suddenly made no sense, for example, when millions of people lost their jobs due to conditions beyond their control. Capitalism with a few safety pads -- or a condom, I suppose, since the recession has fucked us all -- is a far cry from a Marxian worker's paradise.
This is called thinking. And if more people - on both sides - were prepared to acknowledge their own shifts of view and to explain and examine exactly why they have changed with the times, our public discourse would be immeasurably improved.