I was discussing the prospects for the Tea Party in the 112th Congress with a friend and former co-worker of mine when we began discussing fiscal conservatism. We were both outraged at bloated pensions and archaic sick day payouts for public union workers that are funded by the taxpayer and present a massive obstacle for state and city budgets across the country. That's when it hit me: Republicans and Tea Party-backed Congressmen could actually help against this wasteful spending if they were not so focused on other issues.
Likely future Speaker John Boehner has made his priorities clear: he wants to repeal "Obamacare" and roll back as many Democratic gains from the past two years as possible. This is not progress, this is trying to revise history. This knee-jerk reactionary agenda will simply distract our elected officials from what is truly important.
What if I want to cut the waste out of Medicare and Medicaid, but I don't want to continue wasting money enforcing ridiculous marijuana laws? What if I want to crack down on wasteful pensions and union spending on behalf of the taxpayer, but don't want to deny this country's gay citizens the equal right to marriage? What if I want to shrink the mind-numbing bureaucracy of government while continuing to allow women to make their own choices governing their body? Who do I vote for?
Herein lies the problem. If you want a fiscal conservative to represent you in Washington you have to accept an unacceptable amount of socially backward baggage. If you want a representative committed to human rights and personal liberty you have to accept a bloated government too close to the nation's unions and too willing to waste taxpayer dollars.
I, and many of my peers, have been disappointed by the lack of a reasonable individual to rise from the right to save the Republican Party from the religious hijacking currently besieging it. The Republican Party has created a social litmus test that is impossible for people outside of evangelical Christianity to adhere to, and this is going to hurt them in the long run. As of now, those in my generation have nowhere to turn for a socially liberal fiscal conservative.
It is not married gays that keep the nation's unemployment rate hovering near 10%; it is not gays in the military that have mired us in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is not a woman's right to choose that has caused foreclosure after foreclosure; and it certainly has not been a lack of faith in Jesus Christ that saw nearly a trillion taxpayer dollars go to the very same companies that plunged this nation into our current recession. Yet these social issues remain the priority of a Republican Party supposedly focused on reining in government spending and getting our economy back on track.
Back in 1994 Barry Goldwater told the Washington Post, "When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye." A religious takeover, already underway, of the Republican Party by the religious right may not be the end of politics, but it certainly could be the end of the Republican Party.
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