As we near the midterm elections and immediately start down the path of the 2016 Presidential elections, it seems as if the two sides of the political spectrum, liberal and conservative, are getting farther apart. Where once there was a sort of comity and willingness to work toward consensus for the good of the country, we are now so divided that nothing can be accomplished without a solid one-party majority. In my opinion, this gulf between liberals and conservatives boils down to one thing: The System. Conservatives believe if they can’t accomplish their goals, they must destroy the system to ensure it can never be used against them again. This has been on full display in the last few weeks.
Conservatives will destroy the system to get what they want without regard as to who may get harmed in the process. When Obamacare was passed and the States had to decide if they were going to accept Medicaid expansion, some states controlled by conservatives refused, but a number of them have taken steps to ensure those legislative or gubernatorial decisions can’t be reversed. Republican state legislators won’t allow voter referendums on Medicaid expansion in states where the public overwhelmingly supports expansion. In Tennessee, The Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill that would require any Governor to get approval by both chambers before he could expand Medicaid. Their intent was to prevent a future Governor from ever providing access to health care to the poor.
Conservatives believe the judicial system is not a co-equal branch of government when it rules against them. In Oklahoma, the State Supreme Court recently granted a stay in the execution of two men because of a question on whether or not the state had to release information on the drugs to be used for the execution. Governor Fallin refused to recognize the authority of the State Supreme Court and said the executions would take place as scheduled. At the same time, the state legislature immediately started impeachment proceedings against the five justices who voted for the stay. The blatant threat to the justices worked, because the day after the impeachment was announced they reversed their stay. Conservatives are quick to use the threat of impeachment against their opponents, especially the President, but when their own Governor blatantly violates one of the central tenets of the Constitution they are 100% behind her.
When domestic terrorists descend upon a small town in Nevada and threaten government employees, law enforcement officers, and the local residents with guns and bombs, conservatives are full-throated in their support and become incensed at the domestic terrorist label. However, when peaceful protestors stage demonstrations against income inequality, conservatives believe they are fully justified in calling them terrorists and want to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Conservatives are trying to destroy the concept of voting rights. In state after state where they control the legislatures, they have passed draconian voter ID laws with the sole intent of making it harder for minorities, students, and the poor to vote. In press conferences and in arguments before the courts, they claim these laws are necessary to combat voter fraud, but they have yet to prove that voter fraud is a problem or that photo ID would do anything to prevent it.
We need a two-party system in this country that provides balance. While liberals have slowly been moving to the center of the political spectrum, conservatives have taken a radical turn to the right. They have embraced the radical fringe, like the Teahadists and the Oath Keepers, sacrificing their integrity in order to win statewide elections. We can never get back to a functioning productive government as long as the radicals control the right, so we must continue to fight them and put their beliefs and actions on full display. Shining light on them will lead to more and more voters seeing them for what they truly are. Radical conservatives will win fewer and fewer elections, only being successful in small areas where the Teahadists and Birthers dominate the electorate. Eventually the Republican Party will change, or it will disappear into history with a new moderate conservative party taking it’s place.