The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Conservatism a lost value

Theo Howard

Like most antiquated entities of the nineteenth century, the Republican Party has both outlived its usefulness and become an albatross around the necks of the American people. It has also shed the ideals that Abraham Lincoln helped define in favor of a fundamentalist code of religiosity that has no place in America with respect to our non-secular Constitution.

Originally, the Republican Party embraced progressive, liberal (for its time) change. It favored the generally libertarian ideal that government should be small and nimble, and one that stays out of the social affairs of its people. In its beginning, the party possessed a vibrant voice and sounded notes that would later be sampled by a chorus of New Deal Democrats some 80 years later.

A conservative voice works best in a homogenous society: that is, one with a common language, religion and way of life. America is a butterfly garden, and one has only to look at their Linnaean family to know that the diversity of these remarkable creatures is vast. Life is seldom common, and it instead favors variation on a theme – mutations and successive evolutionary strains add to the richness of biodiversity by their very presence. This does not jibe with a conservative mindset, and, in general, I meet few conservatives that like the idea of evolution at all. Pluralism isn’t a bad thing; it is a survival mechanism.

The party of Abraham Lincoln has grown to foster several gargantuan expansions to government. Ronald Reagan instituted policies tripling the national deficit, while drying up social programs that hurt low-income housing projects, and turned thousands of mentally ill people, including veterans, out onto the streets. The party of the elder George Bush plunged us into a war in Kuwait and Iraq with no clear direction or resolution, to the tune of billions of dollars.

Story continues below advertisement

Now President Bush has us mired in a place more uncertain than Nixon’s Vietnam. The Department of Homeland Security is the fourth-largest executive department in existence. Our national deficit is more than $5 trillion larger than it was in 2000. We have spent $350 billion in Iraq since 2003, and much of this has been in non-compete contracts. Meanwhile, much of New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf states do not yet have clean, running water, electricity or working schools, let alone rebuilt homes, or a reliable system for evacuating low-income, high-risk victims from another major storm.

Even more disturbing is the religiosity, and the hateful fervor that the modern Republican Party seems to have for many groups. The 45 words that comprise the First Amendment clearly establish a separation of religion and state, but this is not respected by all. In 1954, the Republican Party added the words “under God” to the pledge of allegiance. It was done to chide growing communist sympathies at home and abroad. The albatross around our necks is a religious political elite, mired in a dogma that should never enter our laws, be stamped on our money, or in our pledges. It is a paralytic specter that rules through fear and terror, both authentic and manufactured.

We should be confronting the crucial need for universal health care in a nation that is about to experience the largest retirement shift in its history and revamping our higher education system to better equip our young people to compete on the global level. Our ruling party has raped social security, slashed Medicare and fought a systematically-organized, all-out war on the rights of any two consenting adults to get married, regardless of genitalia. We would rather spend three years fighting this at the state and federal levels, apparently, than worry about the $811 million removed from the 2006 higher education budget, or the fact that beginning next year, 15,000 seats in American colleges and universities will be reserved for hand-picked Saudi Arabian students.

Our fossil fuel consumption has more than tripled since 1976, and India will have a middle class larger than our entire population, consuming like Americans, by 2015. China will experience its 2.8 billionth birth before most of the students at UW-Eau Claire become parents themselves. These people are driving and using steel, plastic and oil; most resources aren’t recycled. We are a world addicted to oil, and when we really, truly run out, we will not be ready for it. Lobbyists continue to work to keep fuel efficiency in America at some of the lowest levels worldwide and to produce vehicles of staggering and irresponsible largesse in this time of crisis. We needed solutions in 1975, 1985 and 1995, and while the Democrats could have done more, they were dogged by the Republicans every step of the way.

A government that wishes to rule in a democracy must faithfully execute the will of the people, because its members rule at the pleasure of the populace. A democracy’s performance must be wildly spectacular. In all corners, we seem content with an embarrassing mediocrity instead.

Democrats are not saints, but I think they would be hard-pressed to do worse. The Republican party is an archaic, super-powerful, ultra-dangerous, out-of-touch juggernaut, and its effects are having international consequences. Like many other nineteenth-century inventions, it has outlived its usefulness, and the time has come to cast off the albatross about our necks before we choke.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Conservatism a lost value