Both Parties Are About to Change Forever
There's a massive political vicissitude that's sweeping the legs of both major parties in the US, and ignoring it should be done at one's own peril. We're in the initial stages of a complete reformation of the right and left in America, and if you blink slowly, you'll miss it.
This reality hit me at full speed while I was watching footage from Politicon. Like any political junkie in the unforgiving grasp of a decade and a half's worth of deeply rooted addiction, I watched clip after clip from the event. What I saw changed my view of America's political trajectory forever.
I should probably note that I'm a liberal. Not terminally so. I won't show you gender identity flash cards and then lambaste you for getting one wrong or anything like that. I just tend to lean more to the left on most issues. This used to be easier than it is now. The enemy was a lot clearer when your options were only Bush and Kerry or Obama and McCain. You had two establishment politicians, and everyone was able to pick the side of the turd that they found to be the shiniest. I could always rely on republicans to be anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-middle class. It was reliable and consistent. They did all of the work in the area of painting themselves as the enemy. Cheney was more cartoonish than a Batman villain, for fuck's sake! They made the line clear.
Then the open communication between ideas via the internet and grassroots marvels like Bernie Sanders conspired to destroy that dichotomy.
When Sanders cleared a 60 point gap between him and the well established Hillary Clinton, it become apparent to us all that the left was going through some serious changes. We were rejecting business as usual in favor of something completely foreign to the American electorate. Unimpeachable honesty. Bernie had been consistent about his views for longer than many of his base had been alive. We all know how that story ended, but it signaled a strong torrent of change ripping through the democratic party. It seemed like the movement was all ours.
But then an unpopular “populist” in the form of Trump won. He's spent his meager time in office ripping the republican party to shreds. He created a fault-line that seems to have the MAGA mouth breathers who would sell their Mema's medicare down the river to avoid having to pick a language on the ATM pitted against young conservatives who are much more concerned with fiscal matters than the obstruction of social freedoms. The latter has complicated my relationship with my long-time enemy.
During the Politicon binge that I had, I noticed a lot of liberal pundits whom I've long admired throw jabs about gay marriage, the drug war, money in politics, and right to choose legislation that has proven to offer up the jugulars of their opponents in the past. Historically, the “You want small government, yet you think that the government should be able to tell consenting adults who they can marry” line is a kill shot. Quick and clean. The guy on the right will take the bait, quote a scripture, and then be brutalized with a diatribe about freedom of (and from) religion. It's just one of many arguments that's stood the test of time.
But this new breed of republicans just scoffed at the idea that they were opposed to gay marriage. Not only were no Bible verses offered up to support this historically right wing position, but Guy Benson, who is openly gay and openly conservative, was on the panel. Later on, libertarian millennial Charlie Kirk weighed in about how little he cared about people smoking pot, eluding to the fact that he, like his liberal counterparts, was also disinterested in the drug war.
This is not the kind of republican ideology that has me fighting with relatives at every holiday meal. This new breed is just about as open to social freedom as progressives are. Overtly, anyway. Their desire to behave like normal human beings instead of unhinged cult members who've taken six shots of mercury in their underground bunker everyday since Nixon resigned, has served to tug up all of the low hanging fruit that made them such easy targets for the left for so long.
This means a few things need to change moving forward, but it also may offer a promising glimpse at positive momentum for politics in the future.
First off, it seemed that both new versions of their respective parties are interested in getting big money out of politics, to one degree or another. This is an issue that should be tackled on bipartisan level, first and foremost. As long as private prisons can finance the politicians of their choice, none of us can start fighting each other about the drug war in any productive way.
Secondly, the left can't rely on the youth's racist grandpa who screams about Muslims over the full volume of FOX News to turn them off of the republican party anymore. While I have yet to concede that there's anything cool about being a republican, it's not as horrendously abhorrent in this new form as it was just a few years ago. We'll need to actually explain why our side is better, and stop relying on them to do the work for us.
Lastly, both parties need to remember how to share and celebrate common ground. There is no chance that the majority of Americans are ever going to completely agree on everything, but that doesn't mean that we can't agree on anything. If this new brand of conservatives wants to end Citizens United, the drug war, and the never ending back and forth on civil liberties, then let's start there. We can deracinate the old guard on both sides of the aisle, set the policies that we agree on, and then polish our swords for a more nuanced fight. That would be a colossal improvement upon what we're doing now, with the entire aisle being bought by the same investors looking for a return on the backs of the voters.
At the end of all of this, I find myself the same brand of liberal that I was before this realization. I believe in personal freedoms, espousing the idea that your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of another persons nose. If nine consenting adults want to get married, I don't give a shit. If someone wants to worship a breakfast taco as their messiah, I don't give a shit. If a pre-op trans person wants to use the bathroom that they feel comfortable in, I don't give a shit. Be loving and respectful to each other, don't push your brunch on others, and wash your hands. It's that easy. My mind hasn't changed there.
But I think that this new conservative movement may have something promising to offer. The problem with democrats and republicans both is that they've been so busy filling their pockets and bragging about the smell of their own asses for so long, that they forgot to be public servants.
Both major parties have begun their respective death marches, and I doubt that either will see the next decade. Not in any recognizable form, anyway. And I will mourn neither. We need political identity to change all the way around. We've gotten abject poverty, endless wars, and a revolving door of mass incarceration from both parties for decades, and a not-so-fond farewell is in order.
Let's see them off together, and learn to agree before we disagree, shall we?