Last Tuesday night, something died on the stage of American politics.
It was an ideology; a particularly repugnant one, whose adherents believe that they have the right to control the private lives of their peers for the sake of promoting moral order. Needless to say, its rampant implementation over the last decade or so cost the congressional Republicans their majorities on Capitol Hill over the course of the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. It has a name, which is particularly deceptive in its nature. It is called “social conservatism.” In all honesty, a more fitting title for this oppressive school of thought would be social authoritarianism. After all, as most conservative political philosophies seek to limit the control of government, can anyone seriously refer to the idea of imposing a narrow, restrictive agenda onto the lives of millions, and enforced by the Feds as anything remotely resembling conservatism? I did not think so.
The cause for the so unfortunately prolonged demise of social conservatism can be almost solely attributed to the United States’ failing economy, which is evidenced by the Federal Reserve’s recent attempt effectively to monetize our nation’s staggering debt. Though, thankfully, the GOP managed to capitalize on this seemingly endless recession during last week’s midterm elections, its overall performance was not as stellar as many had expected: the Republicans did not manage to capture the Senate, despite enjoying a total blowout in the House of Representatives and winning a vast majority of gubernatorial and state legislative races from Florida to Alaska. The reason for this damper on what was otherwise a spectacular evening was that a cadre of far right senatorial candidates, Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharron Angle of Nevada, Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, and a few others not worth mentioning, during the final days of their campaigns chose to place their focus on such relevant issues as whether or not homosexuality is a choice, what exactly is it that makes a person look Hispanic, and of course, why the practice of abortion should be criminalized, even when a woman’s life is placed on the line. All lost because of those choices.
It is inescapable that the American public, with the exception of a few incendiary fringe activists, no longer cares about what their neighbors do behind closed doors. All they want is a stronger economy, the chance for a decent retirement, and their taxes kept at minimal levels. Should the GOP choose to aid them in meeting their goals with its new-found political power, then it should face no problem in seizing the presidency two years from now and the Senate along with that. Should the incoming congressional Republicans, however, stray away from the will of their constituents by kowtowing to the whims of the religious right and the so-called values movement, they will be met by resounding defeat, with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid laughing all the way. Right now, it seems as if they will opt to do the former, and as said by influential San Diego-based U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, “take America back to the middle”.
Let us hope so.