This is the Honors Award winning essay in the 2015 Next Generation Essay contest sponsored by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon.
Portland, Irony & the Downfall of a Liberal
By Xander Almeida
My pilgrimage in worldview can be described by a desire to relocate into Portland which became the final tipping point.
When I turned 18, I registered, bleeding heart in hand, Green Party. I resided in Santa Barbara, worked under the table, didn’t pay taxes and my living expenses were subsidized through living comfortably off of my parents. In 2003, I registered Democrat so I could support the presidential ambitions of Dennis Kucinich.
When I was 19, I relocated to Portland due to rumor of it being a liberal mecca. Though my consistent need and desire to devour all current events, politics and goings on I realized something. Absolute liberalism seemed to be, indeed, some sort of mental deficiency. Efficient bus-lines were being cut to make way for far more expensive MAX lines. Fees and taxes were being raised, which I suddenly realized hit me very hard while Democrats here seemed so adept at squandering the “revenue”. So in 2008 I finally realized I was actually quite conservative. Odd, I thought, to find myself registering Republican at the age of 23.
In my wayward youth, while not paying taxes, I often debated my grandfather, himself a Republican. I would say without thought of cost or consequence “We should have free college and healthcare!” And he would always reply, “How are we going to pay for it?” My response was always “Taxes!” of which I was paying none and hadn’t ever planned on figuring out how.
My grandfather had many issues with the GOP as I still do. The dissolution of religious social conservatism (as he was part of the party before it took over) and willingness to pander to issues contrary to ideology (such as Iowan ethanol subsidies). And my more liberal of family would ask “How can you possibly be part of a party which is against x, y and z?” The answer was more simple than not: would I rather be part of a party I agreed with 90% or 10%? Not a hard choice as I was never a one issue voter.
Thusly, a mixture of family and personal experience (and initial lack thereof) firmly helped sculpt my worldview. And through the ever enduring great spirit of Portlandian irony, I can thank the fine liberals for this fair city and state for forming one heck of a strong minded conservative.
— Xander’s Essay was the 2015 Next Generation Honors Award Essay winner. You can view the top winning essay “Life Lesson forged in Iraq” here.