When it comes to social issues, Liberals usually start from the compromise position. If you do not agree with the morality of abortion, we will accommodate you. We are Pro-Choice and agree that you should be free to decide whether to bring your fetus to term. Don’t agree with gay marriage? That is all right because we believe that heterosexual marriages should be afforded the same rights and protections as same sex marriages. Do you want to pray in school? We firmly believe that the government does not have the right to prohibit or sanction your choice of how to worship the god of your choosing. We are basically Libertarians who do not believe that taxes are a form of oppression or that market forces alone will encourage businesses to do the right thing.
On the opposite side of the coin, Conservatives have adopted a position that not being able to regulate your behavior results in a violation of their religious rights. In their view the government knows what is better for women than they do themselves. Not only do they wish to limit marriage to it’s traditional meaning, some would also like to regulate what heterosexual couples do in their own bedrooms. (1) It is not enough to have the freedom to individually pray in school, all children, regardless of belief, should be forced to participate. Given these views, I find it personally bewildering that so many people that espouse that their “vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property” can feel so at home within the Republican party. (2)
The Democratic party does not hide it’s support of these social values and in last year’s election they clearly won the support of the electorate. Not only did they maintain control of the presidency and the Senate, but “Democratic House candidates combined to win about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans.” (3) Still the Republicans act as if they have a mandate to chip away at our individual freedoms.
Even though 63% of respondents to a Pew Research Center Poll (including 48% of Republicans) opposed overturning the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the party continues a strategy of chipping away it’s foundations. (4) The latest salvo is Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R - South Carolina) introduction of a bill that would ban abortions below the age of viability. “A similar proposal passed the House in June by a vote of 228 - 196.” (5)
Even as the American people's support for same sex marriage continues to grow, Republicans move in the opposite direction. (6) While claiming the need for financial austerity the House leadership “spent $2.3 million of taxpayer money defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court and lost.” (7) The party’s supposed support for state’s rights was also sacrificed in Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s (R - KS) proposed amendment to the Constitution which specifies that “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.” (8) The American people need jobs and Congress is spending time on an amendment that has virtually no chance of being ratified.
Lost in the shuffle of playing defense against a further erosion of our personal freedoms has been the lack of progress in the change Progressives hoped the 2008 election would usher in. Obama promised to put an end to partisanship in Washington and repeatedly sacrificed Progressive goals in attempts at compromise. Infrastructure improvements were replaced with tax cuts in the stimulus package. While it makes many important improvements to the health care system, Obamacare is a far cry from the single payer system that was envisioned by the President’s supporters. Despite the fact that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit, the President signaled his intention to accept the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments as part of a grand bargain.
Like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, the Republicans accepted these compromises and then rejected the final outcome. The needs of their party were more important than the needs of the country. Liberals had nothing to show for their willingness to compromise as gridlock in Washington grew. Then the Republicans had the audacity to label this decidedly moderate President as the “most liberal.” (9)
Part of the reason that the Republicans have been so successful at opposing the President is that the noise that they have generated has been consistently louder than their actual numbers. TEA party supporters may only represent 22% of the population, but they are the ones showing up at town hall meetings. (10) In politics, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Legend says that FDR ended a meeting with labor leaders by telling them “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” (11) To those Progressives who are part of the 69% of Americans who think that our country is on the wrong track and find yourself wishing the President was doing more to live up to your expectations, I suggest you consider this advice. (12) This change thing is not going to happen on it’s own.
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