Traditionally, with only two major political parties in the Unit
ed States, each has served as a check upon the other. Over a good part of its history this country has had two major functioning political parties that have had slightly different emphasis. Each has kept the other honest. Unfortunately that situation no longer exists.
If one draws a horizontal line across this page and puts a mark in the center, everything to the right of that mark can be called conservative and everything to the left of the mark could be called liberal. The farther one goes away from center the more liberal or conservative he/she becomes. At some distant point far from center the extreme right becomes reactionary and the extreme left becomes radical. In point of fact in the center of the line there have been conservatives who have crossed over to the left side of the mark like Nelson Rockefeller and liberals like Jimmy Carter who were to the right of the mark.
What has happened since the 2008 Election is that the Tea-Party group and the extreme evangelicals have been able to take over the leadership of the Republican Party and moved it to the far right, to the reactionary position. This has, in turn, forced all Democrats to move slightly to the left of their former positions. The result has been to polarize the positions of both parties, with the Republicans being too far to the right to even consider a compromise with the Democrats. In fact it’s as though the two groups speak radically different languages and cannot even begin to comprehend the other.
Still one would think that the results of the Election of 2012 would be a wake-up call for the Republican Party. They lost the Presidential Election by about five million votes and also lost seats in both the House and Senate. They did fairly well in the “red” states and retained the majority in the House of Representatives even though a million more votes were cast for Democrats nationally. They were able to maintain those district and state majorities by gerrymandering state election districts.
The Republican success in the Election of 2010, which was a census year requiring rebalancing the numbers of candidates, gave them the authority to gerrymander the state election districts heavily in their favor. This they did and have been able to maintain control in the House even though more people voted for Democrats. What has happened to the concept of each vote being equal?
The major Republican goal up until the Election of 2012 was to make Obama a one-term president. Among others the Republican minority leader in the Senate publically announced this numerous times. During the 2008 to 2012 term the Republicans supported nothing that the President favored, even if it initially had been their idea. Not one economic jobs bill whose success might allow the President to look good, was passed and, in many cases, not even brought to the floor of the House or Senate to be voted upon. In fact the Republicans in the Federal Government and in the states concentrated upon medical and social legislation, attempting to destroy the Affordable Health Care Bill (Obama Care). The House has now passed forty-one separate bills doing away with this law. None of these repetitive bills were ever taken up by the Senate and if they had been the President would have vetoed them. The effect of these bills has been to encourage many of their reactionary constituents. They have also wasted a lot of legislative time. They only met in the House of Representatives 120 days in 2012 and will meet 125 times by the end of 2013.
Much of the state legislation (and this was also taken up and passed in the House of Representatives) where the Republicans controlled both the governorship and the legislature had to do with limiting abortion, women’s contraceptive and health rights, emotional issues. These bills have gotten more and more reactionary attempting to, and in many cases being successful in closing state woman’s care centers that also performed abortions. Many Republicans want all pregnancies carried to term, ever in cases of incest or rape, even in case where the woman’s life may be endangered by the pregnancy. Seemingly in rape it becomes the woman or child’s, where a minor is involved, fault for being present when the perpetrator committed the act and subsequently it is their financial and moral responsibility to raise the child even against their will.
In 1964, when Lyndon Baines Johnson first ran for the presidency as the Democratic candidate, his Republican opponent was Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was the candidate of the far right, the reactionary and evangelical Republicans. His slogan during the campaign was: “In your heart you know he’s right.” The inference of this statement being that logic and factional information had nothing to do with the election. It was what you felt that counted. He received 22% of the vote, which represented the population of the far right. Forty-two years later, in the mid-term election of 2010 the far right attained a majority in the House of Representatives and in a number of state elections. Through the patient use of money and propaganda they had largely achieved their goal of taking over the control of the Republican Party. The country had not necessarily changed that much in its basic attitudes but the Far Right has successfully seized control of some of the engines of government. One factor that seemed to help was that the President of the United States was now a black man. After the Presidential Election of 2012 the Republicans continued to act as if the election had not taken place.
Two functioning political parties in the United States that essentially speak the same language would help the political situation and be easily able to solve most economic problems facing the country. They could also serve as a check on each other. We do not currently have that. Will we ever reach that point again? That’s an interesting question.
We will be facing another midterm election in 2014. Currently the Republicans are, on a state level where they have control of both the legislature and the governorship, pushing forward their anti-woman, limiting female health by shutting down those facilities and essentially closing down all abortion facilities in those states, and their anti-middle class agenda, no job creation or needed infrastructure improvement. On the Federal level, while the Republicans cannot pass any of their heinous legislation, they can stop any positive legislation by filibustering in the Senate or refusing to even vote on any of these bills in the House where they have the majority. Currently they are opposing a realistic immigration policy because they feel these people will vote Democratic when they become citizens. In essence the Republicans seem to be supporting a white, male government of the rich, financed by the rich, and for the rich.
It has even reached a state where many Republicans in the states where they have legislative control are opposing some of the positions held by their own party in Washington, D.C. What will happen in the midterm election of 2014 will determine the immediate future of this country. Will the majority of the people vote these people out of office or will they stay at home, not vote, and allow the Republican leaders to plow ahead? It becomes an interesting question whether the people will vote in their own interests or against them. We have approximately a little over a year to find out. Unfortunately, outside of state protesting, until that time, the Republicans will be successfully pushing their agendas.