neo-neocon says: "I think I am an example of the strength of party affiliation. Most people need a much greater jolt than I received during the 80s, and much more time and energy to reflect on the situation than I was able to give to it, to actually abandon their party affiliation, if it had been strong previously."
Yeah, I understand this. In my case I was much more pig-headed than neo-neocon. I already was a hawk, big Reagan fan, moderate Bush fan, Clinton supporter and Democrat. It wasn't until well into the Clinton administration that I realized what a mistake voting for Clinton had been. It was then that I registered Independant. Yes, even at that point I was unwilling to become a Republican like those I served with. Truth is that didn't become a Republican until last year.
I think with me all my dis-illusion with the Democrat party had to build up to a head and I had to be exposed to Democrats who were not from Hawai'i. So it wasn't until all that had built up and piled on that I becamed disillusioned enough to leave the party. It was years after that before I actually switched parties and became a Republican.
So how did that come about? Part of it was that I finally paid attention to the Republicans (who are the anti-christ back home growing up) and their party. I found that they weren't the extremists they had been portrayed to be, which was a fact I already knew having served with so many, but never fully intellectualized and applied. I found that there was a phenomenon that seemed to apply to me. The neo-conservative, a term first used to describe "South Park Republicans" and then co-opted by the liberal movement to describe Paul Wolfowitz and Karl Rove. Turns out that was ridiculous because they've been conservatives for a very long time (hello...Karl Rove, head of his young Republicans group way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Still, it was 9/11 that made me analyze and think about politics, my place, my desires, and my country in a way that I had never considered before. It was the likes of den Beste who gave me food for thought and didn't so much help with the transformation, but had not only valid arguments, but made me actively think in a way that wouldn't allow the mindless dedication to ideology I had once had. With that, and the gubernatorial recall in California, I finally registered Republican, voted for Arnie, and voted again for George Bush.
I sometimes say that I never left the party, that the party left me, however looking back on things I'm not sure if the party, during my lifetime, was any longer the party of legend that it purported to be. It had long ago pulled away from the values of my grandfather or even my mother. It simply took me a while to look past the rhetoric, window dressing and wishful thinking.