September 18, 2018 | ° F

Conservatism threatens, hinders national prosperity

The Champagne Socialist

Two weeks ago, brothers Scott and Steve Leader drunkenly decided to beat up a homeless man that they suspected was Latino. He was pissed on, beaten with a metal pole and had his nose broken, as the Boston Globe reported. One brother declared to the cops that, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” Told of the attack, the real-estate mogul, presidential hopeful and full-time airbag responded nonchalantly that his supporters were “very passionate” and that, “They love this country and they want to make it great again.”

Such feigned concern for his supporters’ zealotry was also on display after it was reported that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had been receiving death threats. Kelly, who co-moderated the first all-male GOP debate, was lauded as the real and savvy star of the night. Yet, unfortunately she also had the temerity to attack the alpha male frontrunner, Mr. Trump, who again brushed off his followers’ zealotry saying, “I’m sure they don’t mean that.” I suspect that at some level he knows his supporters are just taking his belligerent and hate-fueled rhetoric to its violent, menacing conclusion ... and that he’s okay with that.

In a must-read essay from "The New Yorker" titled, “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” Evan Osnos writes that ever since the post-Obama ultraconservative Tea Party resurgence in 2010, “citizens on the American far right — Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists — have searched for a standard-bearer,” and that they’ve found him in Donald Trump. This includes notorious Klansman David Duke, as well as influential conservative intellectual Pat Buchanan who mourns the “death of white America” because of immigration. All these endorsements make sense when you remember that “The Donald” called for a militarized wall across the 1,300-mile U.S.-Mexico border to deport all undocumented immigrants in the country and to revoke the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. This would make millions of children effectively stateless overnight, i.e. ballooning the undocumented population. Do we deport them too? Nevertheless, he dominates the polls, but don’t think his right-wing demagoguery is going unmatched.

Ever the showboat, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called Obama “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” over the Iranian nuclear deal. Meanwhile, to court the Bible-thumping vote, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and others have said they’d eviscerate the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood and would even fatally curb a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in all cases — even incest, rape and if the mother’s life is in danger. Huckabee even said he’d send in the troops or FBI if a woman decided to commit such “murder.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and others such as Louisiana Gov. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have declared a crusade against the Supreme Court’s pro-gay marriage decision last June by calling for a constitutional amendment to allow states to ban such unions and also advocating the “religious rights” of business owners to discriminate against queer folks.

Conservatism, in the words of political theorist Corey Robin, is a, “mediation on — and theoretical rendition of — the experience of having power, seeing it threatened and trying to win it back.” In other words, conservatism is a defense of manufactured hierarchy and inequality, and they may have a lot to be worried about in terms of the “culture wars.”

A newfound and exciting Third Wave-style feminism is becoming increasingly popular on college campuses and on social media. The anti-racist #BlackLivesMatter movement has been grabbing international headlines, and now presidential candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are compelled to speak out against transphobic public policies. Nevertheless, in terms of socioeconomic and racial equality or the environment, the right appears to be winning. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the rate of police killings for young African-Americans is 4.5 times higher, while black folks make up 26 percent of police shootings but only 13 percent of the population. Furthermore, these days, a CEO can expect to make some 300 times more than their workers, while the wealthiest top 1 percent of Americans own 35 percent of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own nothing, according to O.E.C.D. data.

So, basically if we want much of a future as a country and as a species, we have to destroy the Republican Party. Want free tuition? Vote ‘em out. Better housing? Vote ‘em out. Women’s rights, queer rights, racial justice, wealth redistribution, less warmongering and a more habitable planet for future generations? Make ‘em go the way of the Whigs. This doesn’t mean we ought to simply stick to electoral politics. I challenge all of you to join groups like United Students Against Sweatshops, Women Organizing Against Harassment, Students for Justice in Palestine, GlobeMed, as well as cultural organizations for queer students and students of color. After next year’s November, those who desire social justice have to keep organizing, agitating and educating our fellow students. We must continue to unite the advanced, persuade the intermediate and isolate the backwards. But that must include an engagement with our electoral system. So, please, register to vote and whatever you do (but do try to #feeltheBern), just don’t vote Republican. 

Jose Sanchez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history with a minor in political science. His column, “The Champagne Socialist,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.

José Sanchez

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