By Angelo Lopez on February 29, 2012
Eric Wilks has been one of my best friends since we met in 7th grade. One of the most politically astute individuals that I know, Eric worked for several years in GLAAD, an organization that works to advance LGBT rights in the local community and acts as a watchdog against homophobia in the news, entertainment and social media. I always enjoy our many discussion of politics over the years, and even when we disagree, he's pointed out weaknesses in my own arguments and has offered different perspectives on the political issues. A longtime political activist, Eric has participated in several protests and has used his facebook page as a forum for political discussion.
You've always been interested in politics, at least since I first met you. How would you describe your politics when you were younger? And how has it evolved over the years?
My political views were initially shaped by those of my father. I don’t recall politics being part of dinner conversation, but my father encouraged my sister and I to read the newspaper when we were young. I generally didn’t do much more than read the headlines and the first few paragraphs of news stories that interested me, but that was enough to spur my curiosity in current events and politics. My father didn’t align with either the Democratic or Republican party. He held moderate-to-liberal views on many social issues but also was a strong believer of a citizen’s right to bear arms. He was uncomfortable with government intruding in our lives, including registering his weapons. That said, he owned only a couple of firearms intended for protection. He mostly owned shotguns and rifles for duck and deer hunting. So, he identified his politics as those closest to Libertarian. He appreciated the fiscal conservatism of the Republican Party of the mid- to late-70s, but less so its stand on social issues.
As a child and young adult, my political views were more black-and-white. Though I could understand how neither the Republicans nor Democrats satisfied every voter, I felt a vote for a third party was essentially a “throw away” vote, given the way our political system functions.