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New GOP leaves no room for middle ground

Opinion
By Blake Bradford
Mar 28, 2017

In real life and in politics, the middle of the road has always been the worst place to stand. Getting clipped by a passing 18-wheeler or by the verbal attacks of either major party is never a great place to be, but millions of Americans have to stand in this precarious position every day. The road has always been messy, but this year it reeks of a new stench. This is mostly caused by the fact that the road is filled with the corpses of dead and dying elephants.

Moderate conservatives never knew what hit them this past election. The GOP’s defensive backlash to Obama’s policies during the last eight years resulted in some of the most right-leaning candidates ever seen in contemporary politics. Moderates were forced to make a choice: commit the unspeakable sin of siding with the Democrats, or vote for the least-worst that the GOP had to offer. Most chose the latter and hoped for the best, believing that the system of checks and balances would stop anything too radical from happening.

To the shock of many, the road took an unexpected hard right. The Republican-controlled Congress stood by while the President gave away cabinet positions to the highest bidders, disregarding the blatant violation of one of Trump’s key promises of kicking out special interests. Trump hasn’t shut the door on “The Man.” He’s given him the keys to the house.

Many waited out the madness of the new presidency’s first steps, hoping for a voice of reason to speak up. The few that said anything were quickly shut up in a storm of tweets and polemic Breitbart articles. The traditional defenders of the Constitution have done the alternative math, and it seems the First Amendment is only worth half of the Second. Thank God that our citizens will have unrestricted assault rifles to protect our nation’s leaders from Saturday Night Live writers and lunatics with newspapers.

Donald Trump visits Hershey, Pennsylvania in December 2016 on his post-election victory tour. Trump’s rise through the Republican Party has effectively silenced any moderate voices within the party. Photo by Michael Vadon, via Wikimedia Commons.Donald Trump visits Hershey, Pennsylvania in December 2016 on his post-election victory tour. Trump’s rise through the Republican Party has effectively silenced any moderate voices within the party. Photo by Michael Vadon, via Wikimedia Commons.

Trump’s personal brand of populism has invited the alt-right into mainstream politics disguised as the Republican Party’s new management. The offers of amnesty given to illegal immigrants by Reagan have been hidden by a 30-foot wall. Eisenhower’s promise of aid to oppressed nations has been silenced by cries for isolationism. Trump stated repeatedly during his speeches that the time has come to overcome individual differences to work together for progress, yet he has continually shot down moderate conservative legislators as traitors whenever they attempt to lend the Democrats an olive branch.

Moderate conservatives have few allies in the new GOP. They are forced to silently comply or risk being ostracized within their own party. The famous unwavering conservative party loyalty has become their downfall; they’ve become the means to an end for the more vocal reactionaries. Moderate legislators must vote in favor of practically every policy proposed by the now further-right leaning GOP regardless of whether the policies are in their own political interest, or else they risk losing their party’s support. The GOP that Jesus grew up with is no more than a memory since Trump irreparably skewed the balance in favor of right-wing populists.

The long-held bipartisan system has devolved into schoolyard name-calling, and it has stopped all potential for lasting progress. Centrists have never had a real home in American politics, and America’s middle child will never get the attention it deserves while its siblings constantly tattle on each other. For the nation to truly become great again, both sides need to listen to cries coming from the center of the increasingly salty political sandwich. Otherwise, nothing will prevent moderate conservatives from being more than a tool for the alt-right’s means.

The dust on the road is clearing, and some of the wounded elephants are still alive, though weak or paralyzed. Lying still on the red, blood-stained path is comforting, but they know deep within that another truck is bound to drive down the highway with little regard to their personal well-being. With just a little help, they might survive, but the window for opportunity is slowly falling shut. From the way the Twitter feed looks, the collision is going to be yuge.

Blake Bradford

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Blake Bradford is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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