Conservative epiphanies, part 1

Our friends at Public Insight Network/American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio have previously sought to recruit Power Line readers into their network of conservative sources. Unlikely as it may seem, given our recurring complaints about public radio journalism, we have an amicable and respectful relationship with American Public Media/MPR.

They know that there is a bit of hostility and resistance to their efforts among our readers. Nevertheless, they persisted; they have even been willing to endure the occasional expressions of animus that their efforts elicited. Melody Ng of American Public Media contacted us to invite readers to participate in a special survey. Hundreds of Power Line readers responded.

I suggested that Melody et al. inquire of our readers how they became conservative. I started out a liberal myself. Through a process of reading, study, reflection and experience, I graduated from college questioning the liberal articles of faith central to the creed vintage 1973. I had the great good fortune of studying Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France as a student of Professor Jeffrey Hart in the Spring of 1970. It wasn’t long before I felt myself one of the previously dreaded members of the conservative movement.

There is perhaps an unintended (by me) condescension in the question posed by our public radio friends, as though advocates of conservatism are a case — that conservatism requires an explanation. That is, as I say, unintended. I think liberalism has been the Zeitgeist for a long time, certainly since I became a teenager in 1964. It’s in the air we breathe. If one is not brought up conservative, one will have to find a way on his own.

I thought it might be interesting for our readers to report. I thought it might even belie liberal stereotypes. In any event, I am responsible for the question with which American Public Media/MPR reached out to our readers.

Melody Ng writes that “it’s been a long time coming – for all sorts of reasons (such as our team reorganizing) – but the interactive timeline that my colleague Jeff Severns Guntzel has been working on since the beginning of the year has gone live.” Melody notes that Jeff appeared on MPR’s Daily Circuit yesterday morning to talk about what he learned from interviewing dozens of conservatives, mostly our readers.

The MPR audio clip and story are posted here. William Buckley makes an appearance, as does Thomas Sowell. Ayn Rand is also part of the mix. And Ronald Reagan, of course. An explanation of the timeline project is posted here. The timeline is posted here.

Melody notes that there are still gaping holes in the timeline. It only includes a relatively few responses. Melody observes that it was meant to be a starting point for conversation, “so if you or anyone else sees something that we’ve missed, we hope you’ll add it. You can add your important conservative moment through this online survey form.”

Public Insight Network talked to some 400 conservatives, including many of of our readers, and only reported the stories of the few respondents represented on the timeline. A lot was left out. As a famous conservative once asked, where’s the rest of me? I’m placing Melody Ng’s unpublished report in an adjacent post.


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