Compassionately Conservative

By Guest Contributor

When Erin first approached me about writing this column I had some…reservations. I just couldn’t help but feel I had been down the path of being a vocal Republican in a very liberal environment. Well, that would be because I have been down that exact path many times, and I have come to embrace it. 

Much like Erin, I grew up in the Bay Area, in Orinda, California. Orinda may be richer than most areas around it (the median household income was $153,945 in 2012), but it is still very Democratic (66 percent of residents voted for Obama in 2012). However I was first introduced to politics while I was attending middle school over the hill in (the Peoples’ Republic of) Berkeley. 

When I was in seventh grade, the 2008 primaries were heating up, and many of my friends (who had just discovered the Daily Show and Colbert Report) were interested in either Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama. So, just as Erin did, I went home and talked to my parents about whom they preferred. However, my household is politically split. My mother is a Democrat. She was born in Berkeley and preferred Hillary Clinton. My dad was born in Concord, New Hampshire and grew up in Barre, Vermont. He was torn between John McCain and Mitt Romney. My parents proceeded to explain to me the basics about each of the candidates and about politics in general. However, the only specific I remember from that conversation (my parents are both lawyers, so it was a long conversation for a 13-year-old) was that Mitt Romney was a Mormon, and therefore a religious minority. This was particularly intriguing to me because I am Jewish. The one thing my parents could 100 percent agree on was that it was sad that Mitt may be counted out because many people don’t like Mormons. So the next day at school I told my friends I liked Mitt. 

That was a bit of a rough day. Many of my friends were raised with an irrational fear of Republicans. This prompted many questions from classmates, many of which I did not quite know how to field. The one that sticks out the most is “how can you call yourself a real Jew and like Republicans?” If you know me at all, you should understand that this did not prompt me to switch my party affiliation. In fact, I would later wear a “Jewish Americans for McCain” shirt to counterbalance all the “hope and change” paraphernalia. 

After the 2008 debacle, I remained a Republican — although a confused one. It wouldn’t be until the 2012 cycle that I would really investigate my early political leanings. 

At the end of my junior year, there were two elections that concerned me: the GOP presidential primary and my own campaign for Senior Class President. I had transferred back into the Orinda Public School district after Middle School and attended Miramonte High School. After winning a three-way race for Senior Class President, I had caught the campaign bug — I loved it. Naturally, I closely followed the 2012 presidential election and supported Mitt. It was this campaign that prompted me to watch probably the most influential video on my political ideology, I.O.U.S.A (it’s on Youtube, it’s only 30 minutes long and it’s a great way to put off your reading). This video originally aired on CNN and made the economy and the national debt my #1 issue, and Mitt Romney was my #1 candidate. 

To my dismay, I would miss voting in the election by a number of weeks (the struggles of having a December birthday). This left a bitter taste in my mouth — I should have done more to help Mitt. Alas, California was far from competitive that year. Little did I know that in the next few months I would have yet another important discussion with my parents: what to do with my Febmester. 

Naturally, my mother thought I should travel around Europe or go to Africa and “save the elephants”. With 2012 in the back of my mind, I decided to go “save the elephants” — just not in Africa. I then soon began my six month (total) tenure at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and I dove head first into politics. 

My mother still (jokingly) ponders “where she went wrong.”

PHIL HOXIE ‘ is from Orinda, Calif.