“So in conclusion, I’d still rather go duck hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy. Or be anywhere alone with Bill Clinton. Or anywhere at all with Hillary.” I smirked into my microphone as my co-hosts laughed their approval.
Me and my friends Brock, Jim, and Adam1 were recording The Right of Way Show, a podcast for our fellow college students who weren’t afraid to let their conservative flags fly. Although we talked everything from news to sports to celebrities, the heart of the show was winning debates on hot-button political issues.
But this caused problems. Because we were all conservative, we basically agreed with each other on everything. So the only way to “win” was to be the person willing to say the most conservative thing.
I don’t mean to brag, but that was usually me.
I had just finished giving a news update on the Democrats’ overreaction to Cheney’s minor duck-hunting snafu, and Jim transitioned to the main debate topic–the War in Iraq. I leaned forward, cackling at the one-liners I had planned.
Fifteen minutes in, though, I hadn’t gotten my chance. Instead, we were reading listener emails, and Brock was being too, well, polite.
“I see where he’s coming from, but his core assumption is off.” Brock was explaining an email from a liberal listener, and trying to find common ground. Scoffing, I noticed both Jim and Adam agreeing with him.
I saw my chance: “I don’t see where he’s coming from, because that place is devoid of reason and logic.” The other faces were chagrined smiles. “Here’s the thing about Iraq that nobody wants to admit . . .” I went on a three minute rant deconstructing every reason the liberal listener was out of his pot-addled hippy mind, working in some side jabs at Al Franken and Keith Olbermann. “That’s the final choice: we can think with our hearts and write fluffy emails about everybody joining hands and singing, or we can use our brains and win the war.”
A beat of silence, then Jim said, “It’s hard to top that.”I wiped my forehead, assured of victory.
After our closing comments, we gathered up our stuff for our post-show Taco Bell run. “Leave it to Mellema to go there,” Brock quipped. I smiled. It was my sophomore year at John Brown, and I had established myself as a leading conservative voice on campus.
There was the Right of Way Show, of course. Our listenership was growing, our comment forum was buzzing, and the school paper had even done a full page feature on us. I couldn’t have asked for a better photo: the four of us staring boldly toward a conservative dawn. Speaking of the school paper, I was also its official “From the Right” opinion columnist. At John Brown University–an evangelical college in a very red state–I had set myself apart as uniquely conservative.
Walking into the thick Arkansas air, we chatted about new show ideas–everything from the War on Christmas to gun control to the imaginary “wall of separation” between church and state. Along the way, I mentioned a zinger from Ann Coulter’s new book, and Brock made a face.
“What? She’s great.” I responded. “She’s the best liberal-insulter on the planet.”
“But she’s so over the top and . . . scary.”
“Whatever. I have a poster of her on my dorm room door.”
“He does.” Adam said. “It’s weird.”
I shrugged, feeling like I had won again.
In a few short years, I had gone from being terrified of politics to a Right-Wing Standard-Bearer. How did this happen? Well for one thing, I loved being super conservative. In particular, it:
- Gave a narrative to the world and my place in it.
- Made me feel manly.
- Let me feel different in a good way.
As you can guess, I’ll get to each of these reasons individually. Starting next time.
1 Names changed to protect the innocent.
Photo by Roman Boed