I'm not quite the Democrat I once was. As my single, city-dwelling 20s have given way to my settled, suburban driveway-and-a-dog mid-30s, my views concerning fiscal policies especially have become gradually more conservative. In hindsight, the needle had nowhere to go but right.
I'm told this sort of creeping conservatism is common. As we grow older we earn more money and, naturally, become more discerning about exactly what is being bankrolled by the increasingly large chunks deducted from our paychecks. And as we gain life experience, we become less naïve and, on a counterbalancing curve, more cynical. Most of us join a struggling middle class declared the backbone of a nation whose tax code, paradoxically, seems hellbent on breaking said back.
My changed perceptions are mild yet marked. For example, though I still see the value in -- and certainly the need for -- the continuation and mild expansion of social safety net programs, I don't agree with the indefinite extension of unemployment benefits, especially without riders such as meaningful training programs to help the long-term unemployed collect skills while they collect my hard-earned tax dollars. I am similarly wary of overly cushy public sector union pensions; oftentimes, cities and states simply can't afford all facets of these established institutions and, amidst a sluggish economic recovery, everyone needs a haircut.
Ten years ago, I undoubtedly would have been on the opposite sides of both issues. Score two for the GOP.
My demographic checklist is even more politically suspicious. White. Male. Married. Suburban. Upper-middle class household income. On paper, I am someone who just a few years ago would raise a red flag among Democratic pollsters and, to their Republican counterparts, would seem ripe for regime change.
But today, that same Democratic booster could extinguish any worries about me switching teams by asking a few simple questions.
"Are you a racist, a sexist, a homophobe and a bigot?"
"Do you believe in science?"