You don't need to answer if you don't want to but what caused you to change from being a dumb conservative kid?
Sorry for this turning into such a political saturday, people. This is a way more complicated question than I think you suspect, Anon. I could probably write an essay about it, but I’ll try to keep this brief. This is in no way magic-related (except that I picked the game back up again around 2008 while my mind was changing).
My immediate family are all republicans. I went to catholic school for four years (although I had stopped being a believer at a young age). I was a volunteer firefighter from when I was 16-years-old, and I was a Law Enforcement explorer before that (both of which lean conservative). So, before College a lot of my role models and almost everything I heard about politics and morality was through that lens. Plus, I didn’t know the difference between arrogance and confidence yet, and I was a little asshole because of it.
There’s really no one factor that changed my mind, it was a lot of things over maybe five or six years from my late teens to my early 20′s. I had a really diverse group of friends growing up, so when things in conservative circles started shifting anti-muslim after 2001 I wasn’t having any of it. Working Private EMS in Inner City Baltimore at the same time as I took a politics of poverty course really illustrated how overly simplistic a lot of my views were (even this is oversimplifying it). I’m still ashamed of myself when a friend from high school transitioned and I wasn’t immediately supportive of her. My wife was probably the biggest influence, because we argued politics all the time throughout college.
More than anything though, it was my own education and the political shifts to ‘grassroots’ (theocratic hypocritical) conservatism that exposed the glaring flaws in the republican party for me. I had been raised to believe the party represented something that it was clear they were not. I didn’t want this to be long, but even this explanation is incredibly short and simplistic.