Yes, it's true, some of us on here were born into Republican families. Disadvantaged, you might say. Nonetheless, it may have held me back politically for a few years, but in the end it reinforced my liberalism and taught me much about the nature of the psychology of family politics, for which I am glad.
Before 6th grade, politics was not on my radar. My only knowledge on the subject was that the president was Bush and my family was Republican. How did I know the latter, you may ask? I knew it as well as everyone else at my private, Christian school knew they were Republicans: partly because it was engrained in their family identity and partly because it was engrained in the family memories of every other family at the school. However, my love affair with politics started in 6th grade, back in the days of ignorance.
Sitting in the 6th grade history room, I vaguely recall politics take shape in my mind. Of course, it was limited to defacing the pictures of Obama and Hillary I was given and berating the (single) student in our class born into a Democratic family. Our teacher, a Republican herself, stared on and did nothing, probably enjoying our "arguments." On election night, I stared at the television blankly, not understanding the proceedings, and the following morning I looked on at the New York Times headline of "Obama" with feigned anger. In reality, I cared nothing about what any of the parties stood for (who does in 6th grade?), but I enjoyed my identity as a Republican.
Throughout the remainder of junior high, I learned more and more about politics, eventually becoming quite a vocal Republican, even going so far as to demean the two liberal girls in my class. Of course, my ideas on politics were still extremely limited, as I only understood that the Republicans were the party of hard workers, such as my parents, and the Democrats were the emotional party of the lazy, working against such figures as my father.
After 8th grade, influenced by my outstanding history teacher, I decided to delve deeper into politics. I watched endless hours of cable news, read articles, and figured out what my party truly stood for. Coming into high school, I had a good knowledge base comparative to the other students. I distinctly remember arguing with anyone who would take up the offer, ready to show off my newfound political expertise. I continued to study, this time history as well as politics, and I continued to become a stronger Republican, not willing to allow my beliefs to leave the confines of what I knew.
At the beginning of 10th grade, I started to worry. As I began to truly contemplate my beliefs, albeit still within the confines of the party, I had to justify my support for a growing number of liberal positions, among them gun control, gay marriage, internationalism, taxes on the rich, social programs, and the environment. I was scared more than anything that I would become a Democrat because I knew that I was moving more towards them by the day.
Finally, I relented. I remember the catalyst as the Time Magazine article naming Obama "Man of the Year." As they explained his vision for a new America, I realized that I no longer wished to be included among the old America that I had already been moving away from. The hardest part for me was moving away from an identity that I had been acquiring for many years. Breaking the news to all of my friends, many of them ardent conservatives, elicited doubt over whether my conversion was genuine. Soon, however, I acquired a new identity as one of the only liberals at my school. Although I had converted a few of my friends, I was still an outcast in my school and in my family.
The most interesting detail about this story is that neither of my parents, although Republicans by name and voting history, truly believed in the cause of the party. Because neither of them contemplated their beliefs as comprehensively as I had, neither ever felt the need to convert. Upon examination, my dad was essentially a liberal, with beliefs in social justice, environmentalism, gun control, etc. My mom, not much into politics, admitted that she was only a Republican on social matters, indifferent to the rest (my grandfather, who believes that Obama is a Muslim, is a different story altogether).
What I now realized is that I had based my former beliefs off of a restriction that was not even accurate. Because neither of my parents felt the need to contemplate their beliefs and change their party affiliation, I grew up under the chains of our nominal Republican family. By now, many of you probably have realized that I am not advanced in age if the 2008 election happened when I was in 6th grade. Yes, in fact I am only a high school student, something I had hoped I could keep confidential. However, you might as well all know it. At least I'm a liberal.