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The Political Awakening of a Republican: 'I Had Viewed Whole Swaths of the Country and the World as Second-Class People'

A former Republican tells about how his experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans and then Iraq destroyed his Republican worldview.

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No one wants to feel like a dupe.  It is embarrassing to come out in public and admit that I was so miseducated when so much reality is out there in plain sight in neighborhoods I avoided, in journals I hadn’t heard of, in books by authors I had refused to read.  (So I take courage from the people who have done so before me like Andrew Bacevich.)

Many people see the wider spectrum of reality because they grew up on the receiving end.  As a retired African-American general in the Marine Corps said to me after I told him my story, “No one has to explain institutional racism to a black man.”

Others do because they grew up in families that simply got it.  I married a woman who grew up in such a family, for whom all of my hard-earned, painful “discoveries” are old news.  Each time I pull another layer of wool off my eyes and feel another surge of anger, she gives me a predictable series of looks.  The first one more or less says, “Duh, obviously.”  The second is sympathetic, a recognition of the pain that comes with dismantling my flawed worldview.  The third is concerned: “Do people actually think that?”

Yes, they do .

Jeremiah Goulka writes about American politics and culture.  His most recent work has been published in the American Prospectand Salon.  He was formerly an analyst at the RAND Corporation, a recovery worker in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. He lives in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him at jeremiah@jeremiahgoulka.com.  His website is jeremiahgoulka.com. To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Goulka discusses his political journey, click hereor download it to your iPod here.

Copyright 2012 Jeremiah Goulka

 

 

Jeremiah Goulka's writing has appeared in the American Prospect and Salon. He was formerly an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. He lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him at jeremiah@jeremiahgoulka.com. His website is jeremiahgoulka.com