Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Republicans and the Far Right

Beginning in about the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party's standing in the United States Congress has become gradually more extreme. According to statistics by political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal (see a very nice graph here), the "Center Right" began to diminish several decades ago. Newt Gingrich's 1994 Republican Revolution gave momentum to the Right and Far Right, and after 2006, the Center Right disappeared entirely from the House of Representatives. The Senate still has a Center Right bloc, although they're less than half the size of the Center Left bloc.

The results of this trend are abundant. The Democrat party made strides forward in every federal branch of government this election; moderate, swing voters don't want extremists in power. In spite of high unemployment and even higher deficit spending, President Obama won reelection (possibly because of Paul Ryan's firm standing in the Far Right). Democrats complain about Republican obstructionism in Congress, blaming them for many of the government's failures. Two popular political comedy shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, derive large amounts of their comedic material from extreme conservatives.

So, where do we go from here? I have several suggestions to improve the effectiveness of conservativism:

First, moderate conservatives, vote in primary elections! Don't let the extreme, passionate voices drown you out. You outnumber them, according to this study on media viewing!

Second, remind your conservative leaders of moderate-conservative values, such as American leadership that includes respect for other nations, the need to create bipartisan solutions to our problems, the need to give illegal immigrants a path to legal residency at least, the need for a mother's life exception to abortion law(not to mention a rape exception), and our duty to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian individuals in employment, housing, and other public spheres (without treating same-sex marriage like a legal right).

Third, avoid verbal attacks on liberals. They are part of America, and they have a role and a voice in America's future. That role need not be a negative one. When liberals propose moving farther towards moral relativism and socialism than you believe is wise or good, don't just condemn them! Work with the truths of compassion for the poor and tolerance for others' differences that they possess. Find compromises, like wisely administrated welfare work requirements, and cooperate with your political opponents for a better future.

As a Latter-day Saint, I urge my fellow Latter-day Saints to notice that the Church's stance is never totally conservative. They have moderately conservative stances on abortion and gay rights, but they also have neutral (or even liberal) stances on many other issues. Two of the links above are Church statements against extreme conservative policies.

May God bless you, and may unity prevail.

No comments: