Felicia Muftic: Political pendulum eventually settles in the middle
Grand County, CO Colorado
As the Republican Party tries to read the tea leaf residue of the votes on issues recently, Democrats were taking comfort that there was hope voters had not swallowed entire cups of Tea Party brew.
It may be too soon for either side to conclude much, but there may be justification for the Tea salesmen to be a little worried and the Democrats to feel encouraged. The coming 2012 election battle will not be for the hearts and minds of either ideological extremes, but the victory will belong to whichever side appeals to the more moderate middle. The middle made its voice known in these early November contests.
Ohio voters overturned the law passed by the GOP-dominated legislature and their governor, John Kasich, to prohibit collective bargaining by public employees. Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, who was the object of sit-in protests over similar legislation, was probably having a few turns in his tummy digesting the news.
Mississippi voters rejected the personhood amendment that would have elevated a fertilized egg to human being status in the eyes of the law. This pro-life overreach was more than voters there could stomach, too.
I often wonder how my traditional rock-ribbed Republican parents would have voted if they had not departed this earth in the late 1980s or had lived in either one of those two states. Dad was staunchly anti-union and later anti-New Deal, and both were pro choice. Both looked warily at any extremes that rocked the boat.
I do not remember my father complaining about taxes, but just wanting them to be spent honestly and efficiently and not to benefit the slackers of this world. My mother observed often that wild political pendulum swings would always come to rest in the middle. If change came, it had to come slowly and be absolutely necessary.
They were true conservatives in the political science definition of the word, but they would not have qualified for that definition given the litmus tests every single candidate seeking GOP support to run for president has to pass these days. Nor did they fit the definition of reactionaries, yearning for the good ol’ days of Hoover, either. They had voted for FDR for his first two terms.
The GOP, however, found one spot of cheer … a vote in Ohio against Obamacare mandates, the part of the health care reform law that required everyone to buy into the system according to their income levels. The mandate issue is chock full of irony.
Karl Rove, the GOP political strategist, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this was a significant vote. In a sense, he was being self-congratulatory since he played such a significant role in turning Obamacare into a dirty word. Ironically, the same week an appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate clause and followed the pattern of other conservative judge’s rulings on the subject. Other courts had ruled otherwise. The Ohio vote was effectively symbolic since the constitutionality question will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the spring.
While I can guess my parents would have stood with the two governors on the collective bargaining issue and opposed personhood laws, they would have struggled with the health care mandate issue. They hated freeloaders of any social welfare system … those who took taxpayer money and did not make an honest effort to do their share. In fact, mandates were the brainchild of conservative think tanks for that reason .
I could see the irony played out in the GOP candidate debate that took place the same week. While all pledged to overturn Obamacare, Michele Bachmann got a roar of approval for proposing that the poor pay their share of taxes, even if it added up to a couple of hamburgers. Freeloaders able but unwilling to pay into the health care system were fine, but the poor should not to be let off the tax hook, it appears.
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