John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Speaking of Politics

Let me confess something I’ve never had the courage to admit in a public forum before. In the fall of 1988, as a freshman at Pepperdine University, I, John Alan Turner, voted for Michael Dukakis. Yes, I remember the disastrous tank/helmet photo. And I remember the whole Willie Horton debacle.

I’m not necessarily proud of voting this way. Nor am I particularly ashamed of it. I suppose I am somewhat proud that I voted in the first election for which I was eligible. And I would hasten to add that my vote was rather counter-cultural in those days. Pepperdine University has never been a bastion of political lefties. I remember attending a meeting of Young Democrats that year and finding only about 15 like-minded souls on campus. My roommate was livid and determined to vote, if only to cancel out my ballot. My girlfriend learned to steer conversations elsewhere as quickly as possible. I was a little passionate about the whole political thing.

While I’m revealing what I did with those secret ballots, I may as well go ahead and tell you that I also voted for Bill Clinton…twice. And George W. Bush…also twice. And John McCain. There you have it: my entire voting record, at least on presidential ballots. And I’m sure you notice that things have swung from left to right over the years. There’s an old saying (usually misattributed to either Winston Churchill or Benjamin Franklin): If you’re not liberal at 20, then you have no heart; if you’re not conservative at 30, then you have no brain.

So I made that journey, from liberal to conservative, and I’ve seen many of my friends take similar journeys over the years. Still there are others who have not. I know rabid conservatives and wide-eyed liberals who have switched sides over the years. I know some very compassionate conservatives and some very intellectual liberals. Heck, most of the conservatives I know are compassionate, and most of the liberals I know are intellectuals.

And here’s the kicker – I have good, Christian friends in both camps.

So what gives? Why do so many Christians think the Democratic Party is full of raving pagans? And why do so many secular people think the Republic Party and the Southern Baptist Convention are one and the same?