Next month’s mid-term election is about more than individual issues, more than about jobs—and even more than about the economy. It is is about the entire direction of this country: where we’re headed socially and culturally, politically.
There was a time several years ago that I felt those on the extreme right were a fringe minority. They could be dismissed as throwbacks to the flat-earth society who longed for a return to the good old Father Knows Best days of the 1950s. But I also could see the start of an interesting strategy—a grass roots strategy that meant candidates from the fringes of the right got elected to school boards and park districts, library boards and village boards. All politics is local, after all, and where better to train for politically larger goals than in local government.
But it’s only been in the last couple of years that the fringe has encroached on the mainstream, emboldened by Sarah Palin’s rock stardom. And with her successes, and fueled by radio talkers like Rush, TV icons like Glen Beck (dare I say that these guys have made Bill O’Reilly appear moderate?), the far right has taken center stage. And the “mainstream” conservatives have quaked in mortal fear—not of their souls, but of their (Congressional) seats.
Those who lean farther to the right than they’ve had the courage to express aloud these many years feel emboldened to show their truer colors. The Republican’s Right Wing has gone mainstream. Heck, even Ronald Reagan would have been booed out of Christine O’Donnell’s Grand Old Party.
For their part, the Democrats have simply stood there and allowed the Right to set the agenda, frame the debate and force them rightward, afraid of losing their seats. Well, personally, I’m afraid too.
I’m afraid of a nation run by policy makers who believe evolution is a myth; who believe climate change is nothing to worry about and may even be beneficial to us. (Tell that to the polar bears who have smaller and smaller bits of icebergs on which to rest their weary paws.)
I’m afraid that we may be headed for a time when we are a “Christian Nation” by fiat, birth control pills are illegal, and so is abortion. A land where Thomas Jefferson goes missing from the nation’s schoolbooks along with any sense of intellectual rigor. It may not happen this year, or even in 2012. But it’s coming.
So here’s my plea to you dissatisfied, disappointed and discouraged (Democratic and Independent) voters whose expectations of Barack Obama’s first term fell a bit short. Don’t vote—stay home on November 2—and you shall reap what you sow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.