I have been concerned about the direction of this country in a right leaning-direction (politically) since Ronald Reagan was president. I’m not a liberal or a conservative, but I am a progressive, so I can talk about this in a way that attacks both Democrats and Republicans. My parents are both liberals, but I have decided to not be completely like them because I’m a bit of a rebel myself. On my new facebook page I try to show this feeling of rebellion. During the Populist and Progressive Era from 1890 to 1920, the ‘conservative effect’ was almost non-existent. The earliest example of the conservative effect is when Teddy Roosevelt had to compromise on the Hepburn Act of 1906 which banned free railroad passes with conservative senators that opposed it so it could pass Congress (this got many progressives mad). Most of the 20th century, a sort of ‘conservative effect’ did not exist, but there was some sort of undercurrent of it. For example, even though Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR’s wife, pushed for an anti-lynching law, President FDR still didn’t pass an anti-lynching bill so he didn’t tick off those in the south, some who were conservatives. Conservatives almost derailed Social Security when it being passed in Congress as part of the New Deal reforms because they said it was ‘too much government.’ Also civil rights legislation was almost stopped as well because conservatives opposed it. It’s much worse nowadays.
In today’s world, the examples of the conservative effect are numerous including the whole scare with the death panels in the summer of 2009 which caused weaker healthcare reform which was tailored to get conservative support. The law passed on party lines and a slim Democratic majority in approved it in the House of Representatives and Senate. 2 years earlier in the Bush Administration, when John Bolton was America’s ambassador to the U.N., he called for radical statements such as the abolishment of the United Nations as shown in this youtube video. I respect his opinion, but this affected America’s reputation and made Americans look like a bunch of crazy idiots. Conservatives are so strong that they gather together in a cloud and attack anything the Obama Administration says or does like a bunch of locusts. During the release of WikiLeaks documents throughout 2010 from the Iraq War, War on Afghanistan and finally the diplomatic cables from the State Department, Obama wavered and did not defend press freedoms because he would look weak to conservatives. At one point, Obama hypocritically stated: “I’m a big supporter of non-censorship” which is exactly the opposite of what the U.S. government did, which was censor WikiLeaks by telling organizations to cut off funds, blocking access to the documents at every government level to governmental employees and saying the documents ‘endangered national security.’ By the last release of documents in November 2010 (in the codenamed ‘Cablegate’ by Wikileaks), Obama didn’t even say anything about it because he was probably scared of being vicously attacked by the conservatives. This bunch of locusts caused Obama to cave on a position he made in his presidential campaign on the Bush tax cuts. In the lame duck session last year, he signed a law that extended the tax cuts for the rich (highlighted by a 5 minute video by The Young Turks) as well the tax cuts to the supposed middle-class which was tied along with reauthorization of many of the tax cuts in the stimulus bill or ARRA. This was a horrible compromise because he gave in on one of the most important stances to the American people, which I will never forget. The ‘conservative effect must be stopped from affecting every part of life in America because that would cause division of our nation that Lincoln vowed to stop: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
How can we stop the conservative effect? Having deliberate action can stop it. Not that long ago, with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal, shocked the conservatives and shook them to the core as showing in this article. Also during that lame duck session as highlighted in Obama’s message on the subject: the New START Treaty was approved and the 9/11 bill was passed through Congress (also the tax cut proposal was passed which I mentioned earlier). Supposedly, the government shutdown being discussed in the news media may be averted because Republicans backed down according to Open Congress: “House Republicans today unveiled their bill to extend government funding for two weeks… Reid spokesman Jon Summers said that he is ‘encouraged’ by the proposal.” This wouldn’t have happened if the Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid where Democrats have a majority* hadn’t stood up to the Republican ideas to cut funding that “include $1.24 billion in program terminations and $2.7 in earmark eliminations from last year’s funding bill… like defunding Planned Parenthood or blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.” We may need new political parties to solve this issue of partisan bickering (if the issue can even be solved) with third-parties such as the Progressive American Party and the American Progressive Party. In addition, we need to have the parties come together and have more similar beliefs because this division will result in one party becoming entrenched in their positions of power. Entrenchment can lead to corruption if politicians are in power too long, so American citizens should use the democratic system to elect new people every few years to replace the ones that have stayed in power. In conclusion, what we need is a new political system with stronger third-parties and a media that keeps the political parties in check, not a polarized media output with some shows cast as ‘liberal’ (ex: MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, etc…) and others as ‘conservative’ (FOX News, FOX Business and all other Fox channels,etc…).
*= House Democrats were not numerous enough to stop a bill from passing in the House because the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives. Democrats have a slight majority in the U.S. Senate.
Note: PBS, C-SPAN, NPR, CBS, ABC, and Al-Jazeera do not fall into the ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ categories. They just report the news how it is, barely opinionated at all. Truthfully there is no such thing as non-opinionated news, but these channels keep it to a minimum. They are corporate giants, which is bad for the news industry but they are not tainted with ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ views.
By Burkely Hermann, Chief Correspondent for HermannView