The classic definition of conservatism, “the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership and socially traditional ideas” includes the connotation of maintaining a status quo: “the existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues.”
When a social fabric is under pressure to degrade, such concepts are useful and necessary. But what about a situation where conservatism has become so degraded that is opposes any change at all, opposes all progress forward? Frankly, that’s not conservatism anymore. It has then degraded down to reactionism or being reactionary, i.e., always trying to move back in time to an earlier era viewed as having some better set of conditions.
Nostalgia for the past may be useful and even pleasant to some. But a longing for a past that included racism, segregation and rampant misogyny has no use in a modern society. And yet we see the conservative elements in national and state legislatures pushing for this dubious past with all their might.
The Republican strategy has a secondary goal: that of driving progressive elements into an apathy. Republican stalwarts like Mitch McConnell, to whom obstruction of any forward progress is like breathing, are not just trying to make life difficult for folks like Bernie Sanders or Chuck Schumer. He wants them to not even bother trying.
There’s something we need to understand about people who compulsively try to stop everything in their vicinity in spite of all reason. Frankly, they are stark raving nuts. We can point to the enormous wealth McConnell seems to have accumulated while in office—far in excess of any arithmetic associated with his salary—and we can, probably correctly, assume that a corruption investigation would be a hell of a lot of fun. But even underlying this, the man just loves to stop things. He could care less about the fact that not a single syllable of his reasoning makes sense. Any company manager confronted with an employee exhibiting this characteristic would be a moron to not fire that employee. Guaranteed, there is havoc in that person’s wake.
The real problem with someone like McConnell in a body like the US Senate is that he infects other weak minds that also have tendencies toward trying to live in the past.
The trick with the McConnells of the world is that they have figured out how to use the rules to stop things. Solution oriented people, who are not tiny-minded little bureaucrats, see rules differently. They are the check boxes for getting things accomplished.
It is simply a matter of intent. Luckily for us, our Constitution is a living document that is designed to be applied and constantly interpreted. They way to correctly interpret it is by taking its purpose—as given in the Preamble—as a guiding principle. Here it is as a reminder:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
When you get what the founders intended for this document, it is actually pretty cool. Too often this is lost to view by the manipulations of people like Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham and others.
Republicans of the past have shown that not all on the conservative side of the aisle is stop-oriented. Eisenhower started possibly the biggest long-term prosperity driver in the nation’s history, the interstate highway system. He also warned us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex and its undue influence on government, which is much worse today. Richard Nixon, in spite of his general corruption and criminality, brought into existence the Environmental Protection Agency. But today, this crew is all about stopping and stupidly trying to turn back the clock.
The saving grace is that each one of these creatures, on a personal level, is very close to apathy themselves and the only reason they appear to have any power at all is because we have granted their ability to stop things.
It is time to take away their last and only effective tool of obstruction, the filibuster—a hold-over of the racist past these folks want to return to. So desperate are they keep this relic that they are now lying and saying that the founders intended it. Calling bullshit on that.
Effective representatives and administrators get things done that align with the purpose of the organization they are part of. It is time for us to remind them again—and as many times as necessary—of the reasons for their job. And those who feel our opinions don’t rate, that we are not worthy of political opinion, simply need to be reminded how wrong they are. By being voted out.
These folks work for us. Never let them forget that.