Why I Left the Right: How Studying Religion Made Me a Liberal

It was January 20, 2001, and I was at George W. Bush’s inaugural ball. I had spent months campaigning for him, and it had not been easy. After the Florida electoral debacle complete with “hanging chads,” Katherine Harris (and her 15 minutes of shame), and ultimately the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision, I was finally enjoying the fruits of my labor as I celebrated the new president that I worked to get elected.

Sure, my role in the campaign wasn’t glamorous, but I was a 20-year-old political science, religious studies double major who saw this election as the beginning of my work for the Right. I had recently appeared on MTV’s reality show, Road Rules, where I represented the worldview of conservative evangelicals in all its virginal, Christian glory in a very public way. Now I wanted to turn my moment in the spotlight into something meaningful.

During the campaign, I attended Young Republican meetings, drove Bush’s trusted advisors, Andrew Card and Karen Hughes, in the motorcade when they came to town, and now I was working the inaugural ball as the celebrity handler for special guest, Drew Carey. During the evening, he admitted that he wasn’t actually a Republican, but a libertarian.

“Good enough,” I thought to myself, “As long as he isn’t one of ‘those liberals.'”

I believed my involvement in the campaign was just the beginning of my efforts to promote the conservative movement and perhaps my own career as well.

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