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Why We Left the Left: Personal Stories by Leftists/Liberals Who Evolved to Embrace Libertarianism [Kindle Edition]

Tom Garrison
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One political question intrigues almost everyone who studies, participates, or is interested in politics: “Why do people identify with a certain ideology and/or political party?” Numerous scholarly and popular books examine political ideology/party identification and why certain ideologies attract certain individuals. This book examines that question in two separate, yet joined phases. Why do people initially identify with the Left/liberalism and why do these same individuals abandon that ideology to evolve into libertarians? This inquiry is unique in its focus on former liberals/leftists who become libertarians.

Included are 23 stories from Americans and one Irishman, baring at least part of their souls to answer these questions. All contributors at one point identified with the Left/liberalism. Each explains what originally drew them to the left part of the political spectrum. Virtually all mention some version of the popular stereotype of liberals/leftists “caring for the average person.” And all came to see that as a wispy apparition, based more on intention than fact.

A common theme for why the liberals/leftists abandoned their ideology is the ugly discovery of the inherent elitism of leftists/liberals. Over and over in these stories, the contributors give examples of their liberal/leftist “comrades” explaining how they (liberals/leftists) are needed to steer the people in the proper direction, for their own good of course. The true believing leftists/liberals cling to this illusion. Through many different paths, the contributors to this volume come to see the anti-democratic, elitist nature of this belief.

An equally common denominator is the lack of respect for, or even acknowledgement of, personal responsibility in ones behavior. A core value of the Left/liberalism is victimhood. Everyone—women, gays and lesbians, people of color, public employee union members, the working class, and so on—is an actual or potential victim. As such, any dysfunctional behavior can always be excused as the result of societal oppression, racism and sexism, rich people and capitalists, corporations, “the man”, and on and on. Of course, negative external forces do exist, but they are not always (or even most of the time) the cause of crappy behavior or failure. Many of the stories in this book note that this refusal to acknowledge personal responsibility strongly influenced the contributor to turn away from the Left/liberalism.

Of course, disillusionment with the notion that government action is needed for every problem—real or imagined—is inherent in turning from leftism/liberalism to libertarianism. Many contributors expound upon this theme.

Many contributors also cite the power of classical liberal economic theory—truly free markets—as a factor in their leaving the Left. Real world examples of the failure of socialist/welfare state economic policy became too difficult to ignore.

Finally, a minor, yet telling, theme is the lack of humor or playfulness in liberals and the Left. Several contributors note the feeling of liberation once they rejected the dour self-importance of the Left/liberalism.

One popular conception of libertarians is that they are, for the most part, disgruntled old white guys. While that group is represented, more than 25 percent of the stories are from women and more than two-thirds are by people younger than 50. This gender and generational diversity extends to occupations—contributors include college students, law students, an attorney, a professional artist, public school teachers, a chemist, writers, a filmmaker, a law professor, a stay-at-home mom, a firefighter, the CEO of a $40 million company, a TV reporter, an editor, the CEO of a free market think tank, and a research engineer.

It is my fervent hope that this collection of stories will hasten the day when libertarianism is widely recognized for what it is—the political movement for adults.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

I am the youngest of four children to two Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to Shafter, California in the Central Valley. I graduated with a BA in political science from California State College, Bakersfield in 1974 (magna cum laude); earned a MA in political science from University of California, Davis in 1976; and finished everything but my PhD dissertation (ABD) in political science at University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980.

I began political life as a typical McGovern liberal, moved left to become a card carrying member of the Socialist Party USA, and in the late 1990s evolved into a libertarian. In 1972 I joined the War Resisters League and participated in and organized anti-war protests, including giving public speeches before crowds numbering in the hundreds at UC Santa Barbara. For more than 15 years I protested a portion of my income taxes as being war taxes.

In 1980 I was arrested, along with hundreds of others, for civil disobedience at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s I was a hyper-active socialist: twice running for Santa Barbara City Council openly as a socialist in the mid-1980s; worked with tenants (three city-wide rent control campaigns in seven years), and gays and lesbians (Deb, my wife, was the first heterosexual on the Gays and Lesbian Resource Center Board of Directors); and fighting political cultists in California's Peace and Freedom Party (the only socialist party with ballot status in California). During this period I also found time to work full-time as an editor (from 1982 to 2000) of a political science journal published in Santa Barbara.

In the last three years (since 2010) I have concentrated on publishing essays in regional newspapers--The Salt Lake Tribune and The Spectrum (local St. George daily newspaper). The majority of my more than 35 published articles (as of September 2013) are hiking/travel stories along with some political and humorous essays.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2309 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: BookBaby; 1 edition (June 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008H7HH0Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,836 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legalize liberty and live free! July 4, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The stories here are wonderful, especially because they come from a very diverse group of people, young and old, male and female, gay, intellectual and so on. These are real people who have learned that the burdensome ways of federal, state, and sometimes even local government squash the entrepreneural spirit and infringe on our freedom to be left alone. There's sure to be at least one story in this book that will strike a chord with you!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Libertarians are people too July 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a contributor, but I have not had the opportunity to read the other contributions until now. This collection of essays, as the forward suggests, is not a collection of angry white guys complaining about taxes. These essays run the gamut of the socio-political spectrum and serve to remind the reader -regardless of political persuasion- that libertarians are not potheads who like guns. These are people who are deeply concerned about the issues affecting education and business, foreign policy and domestic policy, family and country.

I highly recommend reading this as it provides insight into another side of politics, the personal side. It is not a collection of arguments promoting austrian economics or laisse faire capitalism. It is who we are as libertarians: deeply concerned citizens and deeply passionate about our beliefs and love of country.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Dorothy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Disclaimer: I am a contributer
FYI to the disclaimer: I received no compensation for my contribution, nor will I receive any in the future.

I wrote my essay in a bubble of my own reality and experiences. I wondered how Tom Garrison--this name on an email and picture on a Facebook page--could possibly organize all of the contributors into a cohesive book. Based on my own experience, I knew he was not heavily editing the essays. For the average political book reader, this may sound like a negative. However, I am someone that hates poor editing, and I didn't notice it with this book. I was too involved in reading about normal, everyday people that wrote about their experiences and their reality from their bubbles.

I found myself wanting to meet many of them (I haven't). Every single person was real. They weren't some talking head on TV or a picture above a syndicated news column. They were neighbors. As a Libertarian that feels civil rights are just as important as limited government, it's rare that I can find someone that sees life from a similar perspective. Even within the Libertarian party--as with all political parties regardless of how organized--there are schisms. This book is so optimistic about the future that I shake my head in disbelief that somehow 23 of us, independent of one another, and having no idea what the others were writing...we all managed to sound so POSITIVE about the future.

Libertarians are not known for being optimistic. At least, I've never felt like the group gave off that feeling. Republicans and Democrats shake their heads at our "stubbornness" and try and convince us (every 4 years) not to waste our vote. Sadly, many Libertarians (card-carrying and just leaning) are swayed to the right or the left so that their vote won't be lost.
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More About the Author

I am a former very active socialist in Santa Barbara, CA who evolved into a Libertarian. It can be done.

I am the youngest of four children to two Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to Shafter, California in the Central Valley. My family was fairly apolitical, with Republican leanings. I graduated with a BA in political science from California State College, Bakersfield in 1974 (magna cum laude); earned a MA in political science from University of California, Davis in 1976; and finished everything but my PhD dissertation (ABD) in political science at University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980.

I began political life as a typical McGovern liberal, moved left to become a card carrying member of the Socialist Party USA, and in the late 1990s evolved into a libertarian.

During undergraduate and graduate studies I was active in-on campus politics. As a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara in the late 1970s I led the Graduate Students Association in joining the nationwide Coors beer boycott and several other political campaigns.

In 1972 I joined the War Resisters League and participated in and organized anti-war protests, including giving public speeches before crowds numbering in the hundreds at UC Santa Barbara. For more than 15 years I protested a portion of my income taxes as being war taxes. In the latter years of that period, I withheld part of my income taxes from the federal government.

In 1980 I was arrested, along with hundreds of others, for civil disobedience at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s I was a hyper-active socialist: twice running for Santa Barbara City Council openly as a socialist in the mid-1980s; worked with tenants (three city-wide rent control campaigns in seven years), and gays and lesbians (Deb, my wife, was the first heterosexual on the Gays and Lesbian Resource Center Board of Directors); and fighting political cultists in California's Peace and Freedom Party (the only socialist party with ballot status in California). During this period I also found time to work full-time as an editor (from 1982 to 2000) of a political science journal published in Santa Barbara.

I believe my transition from leftist activist to libertarian, while not common, is instructive. Why would someone abandon a strong belief system, lose many comrades/"friends", and suffer the loss of much of his social network? Why, because I grew to see that the Left (and its handmaiden liberalism) lacked respect and understanding of the concept of personal responsibility; lying was an all too common occurrence that undermined the democratic process; leftists/liberals slavishly adhered to affirmative action preferences, quotas, and identity politics; and leftists/liberals--while embracing "diversity"--all too often display an intolerance for a real diversity of ideas. In 1997 I joined the Libertarian Party.

From the early 1980s to 2000, I published several political articles in publications such as Liberty magazine, the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Santa Barbara Independent, The Socialist, Left Out, and Tenants United.

From 2000 to 2009, I mostly dropped out of politics and concentrate on my job (Real Property Appraiser for the Santa Barbara County Assessor's Office); building a real estate "empire" (four rental condos); and exploring and hiking the southwestern United States with my wife, Deb, as often as we could get away.

In the last three years (since 2010) I have concentrated on publishing essays in regional newspapers--The Salt Lake Tribune and the The Spectrum (local St. George daily newspaper). The majority of my 35 published articles (as of September 2013) are hiking/travel stories along with some political and humorous essays.

Since October 2011 have a once-a-week (Mondays at 2:30) 30-minute talk radio show (as a segment of Jake Shannon's two hour "Mental Self-Defense" program) on station KTKK (630 am) out of Sandy, Utah covering the Salt Lake City area. I discuss the libertarian perspective on a variety of issues.

In May 2012 Deb and I attended the Libertarian Party National Convention as Utah delegates and helped nominate Gary Johnson as our presidential candidate.

You can contact me via email at whywelefttheleft@yahoo.com. Also visit the Why We Left the Left Facebook page. Your comments are welcome.

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