Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Ann Coulter, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky


We always hear how everyone in America is firmly planted in red or blue. They're permanently conservative or irreversibly liberal. But are we all really that locked in to the left or the right? Is America still a place where it's possible to change someone's mind and get them to cross over to the other side of the ideological fence? Is it possible to do that to yourself?

For John Moe, it simply wasn't enough to just read the Wall Street Journal editorial page a little more often...

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Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Ann Coulter, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky

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We always hear how everyone in America is firmly planted in red or blue. They're permanently conservative or irreversibly liberal. But are we all really that locked in to the left or the right? Is America still a place where it's possible to change someone's mind and get them to cross over to the other side of the ideological fence? Is it possible to do that to yourself?

For John Moe, it simply wasn't enough to just read the Wall Street Journal editorial page a little more often or buy a framed picture of Barry Goldwater. He went in all the way, drinking deep from all aspects of the conservative universe to see if he could become that which he encountered.

Raised in a family of proud left-wingers (except for his late father, whose fondness for Nixon he is forced to confront) and living in deeply liberal Seattle most of his life, Moe set out to determine if what we believe is based on environment or actual conviction. Was there actually a conservative trapped inside him all along, just yearning to be set free? Moe puts himself on a strict conservative regimen: He resets his radio dials from NPR to Rush Limbaugh, goes head-to-head with some of today's most influential conservative thinkers for a series of "conversion sessions," makes pilgrimages to the Ronald Reagan and Richard M. Nixon museums, spends the Fourth of July in the most Bush-friendly county in the country, attempts to set his inner Charlton Heston loose at a gun range, flies cross-country to be nearer to Toby Keith, and test-drives the type of massive gas-guzzling SUV so feared and loathed by liberals (and becomes uncomfortably fond of it). Through it all he tries to maintain positive standing with his lefty wife and young but already liberal kids, including their four-year-old son, who joins the Sierra Club. These are but a few of the adventures chronicled in Moe's hilarious and timely first book.

Conservatize Me will strike a powerful chord with millions of disgruntled Americans ready for a fresh, humorous, and highly entertaining look at our country's political landscape. Moe's sharply observed prose will have enormous appeal for anyone interested in a new perspective on debates that have, for years, preoccupied our country and dominated our bestseller lists. Will Moe end up getting a Dick Cheney tattoo and swearing loyalty to the Christian Coalition? Will he get a Dennis Kucinich tattoo and dedicate his life to cooking vegan food at protest rallies? Read Conservatize Me and find out.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Inspired by Matt Spurlock's Supersize Me, Moe submerges himself in the conservative Republican culture for 30 days to see if he will be converted into a snarky, dominating hatemonger, speaking out against wimpy liberal pacifists and "the gay." He does this by meeting with such icons of conservatism as the National Review's editor Rich Lowry and male-escort-turned-White-House-reporter Jeff Gannon, and visiting geographic destinations symbolic of Republican conservatism. With his Wal-Mart wardrobe and iPod filled with right-wing musicians, Moe spends some quality time with the other side. Unsurprisingly, his results lead him down the middle road to understanding the system and desires of both sides. Moe, a radio personality, reads with evident delight. His execution of sarcasm and irony cannot be understated, particularly when his concept of reality is challenged by extremely inaccurate, misguided or asinine statements, as during his interview with Gannon. His vocal characterization of his young son invokes awe, wonder, determinism and warmth. His most endearing moments come when he interacts with his child. Listeners will delight in Moe's sincerity, comedic delivery and overall performance. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (reviewed online). (Oct.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Can an NPR talk-show host from lefty-liberal Seattle convert himself to conservatism by confining his news sources to the Washington Times and Fox News, his music to country and his interviews to habitues of rodeos and shooting ranges?Probably not, but that's the conceit behind Moe's memoir of nine months spent trying to understand conservative America. The premise works well enough, though some readers may draw the line at the author performing "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" during "Country Karaoke Night" in a blue-collar bar. Much of the book consists of interviews with conservatives of various sorts, from the editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review to Michael Medved and the mayor of Rexburg, Idaho. The mayor's pious good sense and devotion to effective government help crystallize Moe's understanding that there is a distinction between conservatism and the Republican Party. Indeed, the only "conservatives" to whom he warms not at all are the pudgy participants at a conference of college Republicans, all of them political fixers in embryo. (The author likes some Republicans better than others: He contrasts the fatuity of the Reagan Museum with the sober substance of the Nixon Library and Birthplace.) The book does not produce insights so much as pop-culture commentary on its march to the conclusion that conservatives are people, too. Aside from a denunciation of Toby Keith for commercially exploiting patriotic country music in a time of war, the commentary is good-natured and amusing. Sometimes the humor is unintentional, as when the author's encyclopedic knowledge of indie and alternative music is employed to explain country music, without further clarification fornon-residents of Planet Seattle. Funniest of all are the interspersed film reviews, which assign a numerical score for the effectiveness of a movie's conservative message. Imagine P.J. O'Rourke describing the effects of chewing tobacco rather than doing drugs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060854010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

John Moe is a regular contributor to the award-winning humor Web site and his stories, commentaries, and short humor pieces have appeared on the NPR programs All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Day to Day, and Only a Game. He lives with his wife and children in Seattle.

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Read an Excerpt

Conservatize Me

How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky

By John Moe

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

John Moe

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060854014

Chapter One

My Mission

Should I Choose to Accept It

In which the author attempts to tap the inclinations that could drive him toward a radical ideological realignment.

"How do you normally part your hair?" asked Julie, my barber. "To the left or to the right?"

"To the--well, let me see--I guess I never thought about it. I go like this," I said, smooshing the thinning crop to one side in a halfhearted motion like I usually do in the morning before leaving for work. I was a little confused by the mirror but after quick calculation was able to say, "So I guess to the left."

"No," she said, "your hair goes to the right. You should comb it that way. You naturally go to the right." She had no idea how chilling that was for me to hear or why I sat in silent stricken terror for the rest of the haircut. "Is everything okay?" she asked, noticing that I was frowning gravely at myself in the mirror. I told her the haircut was fine. It's me that I was wondering about.

It was mere days before I was to begin a potentially life-altering experience. I was going to try to make my politics like my hair, moving from left to right.

I live in Seattle. Republicans still run foroffice once in a while around here but it's more of a hobby for them. In the Seventh Congressional District, which includes most of Seattle, Jim McDermott has been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in nine straight elections. He cruises to easy victories every time. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, McDermott went to Baghdad along with thirteen-term Michigan representative David Bonior and the two of them were shown around town by emissaries of Saddam Hussein. Ultimately they announced that as far as they could tell, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. McDermott was heavily criticized for the trip. Conservative columnist George Will said, "McDermott and Bonior are two specimens of what Lenin, referring to Westerners who denied the existence of Lenin's police-state terror, called 'useful idiots.' " The trip took place just a few weeks before the 2002 elections and McDermott, despite being denounced as a traitor by many on the right, cruised to victory with 74 percent of the vote. Of course it should be noted that he was, you know, right about the whole weapons-of-mass-destruction thing, but still, he could have been dead wrong, run naked through downtown Seattle shooting random strangers, and eaten a baby koala--live on television--and he still would have received at least 62 percent. Seattle likes liberals.

It should also be noted that the Communist Party historically has always been strong in Seattle and I've heard we have one of the lowest rates of churches per capita among major cities in the nation. So if one were to claim that Seattle is a bunch of godless liberal commies, well, we would have to pretty much fess up to that.

This is the world I was raised in and where I've lived most of my life. Seattleites are aware that there are Republican voters that exist in the world, but those voters are sort of like those stars that astronomers can only posit the existence of, they cannot be picked up on any traditional viewing device. And yet . . . Sometimes, while reading The Nation and sipping on a latte, trying not to spill any on my Gore-Tex pullover, I would think about what liberal meant. I knew liberals were against the war in Iraq and against racism and homophobia and against Bush's tax cuts and against the power of major corporations, but what were liberals, you know, for?

I was also aware of the axiom that if you're a conservative when you're twenty you have no heart, and if you're a liberal when you're forty you have no brain. I couldn't help but wonder at age thirty-six if my liberal lifestyle was getting in the way of my natural evolution.

My life was not a conservative vacuum, however. My wife Jill's brother-in-law DJ is about as conservative as one can humanly get. The son of Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, he was once one of Ralph Reed's top men at the Christian Coalition and went on to be a Bush appointee in the Federal Highway Administration. DJ has his beliefs, he's sincere about them, and when we talk/duel/argue, those beliefs couldn't be more different from my own. Maddeningly, he invariably wins the debates we have. Too often, he has points while all I have are complaints. Of course, he has some rhetorical advantages since he earned a law degree from Georgetown while I earned a theater degree at an obscure liberal arts college, but the point remained: he won arguments.

Unlike the traditional liberal caricature of conservatives, DJ is a great guy. He does not secretly plot the conquest of the world with covert emissaries from Halliburton, he doesn't fly into a murderous rage at the mention of any member of the Clinton family, and rarely, if ever, does he roll around naked in mounds of gold coins stolen from third world families. He's a good husband, good father, and a patient golf partner.

Around the time of the 2004 elections, the program director at the public radio station where I work asked me to do more segments about national events on my weekly radio show. He thought it would be interesting to have a conservative and a liberal on together to hash out a particular question from week to week. "Is Iraq another Vietnam?" for instance, or "Should Rumsfeld be fired?" I was skeptical. "But won't that be an awful lot like those stupid shows where everyone yells and acts like jackasses?" Not if I didn't yell or act like a jackass, he told me.


Excerpted from Conservatize Me
by John Moe
Copyright © 2006 by John Moe.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    anecdotal and often amusing

    A self proclaimed leftist, NPR talk-show host John Moe spent nine months limiting himself to known acceptable conservative groups for news such as the Washington Times, Fox News, Russ Limbaugh, Weekly Standard and National Review country music stations only, and roving ¿Krystal Klear¿ milieus like rodeos and NASCAR. He visited the Reagan and Nixon Presidential Libraries (Nixon¿s contains his key scandal while Reagan¿s ignores his in spite of convictions and confessions with Bush senior pardons). Finally his objective was to better understand conservative thinking especially in America¿s Heartland. --- Though anecdotal and often amusing, Mr. Moe concludes there are two types of conservatives in this country. On the one hand he disdains those he met at a college conference who in his mind are offspring of Machiavelli and Lady MacBeth, as power is everything (consider that war reelects presidents) or ignore negatives re their ¿heroes¿. On the other side, Mr. Moe admires Mayor Shawn Larsen of Rexburg, Idaho who is a devoted logical person wanting to make government effective and efficient. He admits being from liberal Seattle making the trek through the Red states at times felt like Frodo seeking to rid himself of the ring as the conservative take on movies make for an overall delightfully funny exposé on those who are right. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 24, 2012

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