As the 2016 and 2020 elections rolled around, I came to notice a change in society at large, specifically on how political everyone had become. Anything, EVERYTHING became a political issue. I’m sure I am not the only one that felt that. One of the narratives that has been talked about on Vox, CNN, WSJ and other sources would be the idea that the left is slightly moving left, while the right is taking a bullet train to more extreme right positions. I’m here to try to make a case that in actuality, the modern conservative (think Bush conservative) is the center today, not this evil “right-wing fanatics”.
Big Idea 1: The liberals of 20 years ago are the conservatives of today.
Sarah Binder writes (note that this is 1996) that at that point in time, there is a consistent shrinking of any semblance of “centrist” democrats and Republicans in politics. Anyone today would also probably notice a trend that in the past 20 year politics have become more and more partisan.
One thing that I notice, however, is that a typical liberal of the 2000’s would overall sound like the conservative of today. Liberals then wanted for gay marriage to be a thing. It is now. And most, if not all conservatives today are not arguing for repealing federal law allowing for gay marriage. Even Trump, the weirdest president ever, had some support in the LGBTQ+ community.
Let us not forget that it was under Clintons administration that the war of drugs began, followed up by tough rhetoric on border security and the such. If the liberals of the 2000’s were to speak today, they would be hailed as “right-wing” and “traitors” to the modern Liberal movement.
Liberals of 20 years ago were not big on having social programs expand to include money for everything. They understood that social security and similar programs were to serve as a safety net, not the building blocks for life. This, again is touted by the conservatives today, while the modern Liberals are keen on expanding government social programs to encompass more and more for the people.
Big Idea 2: Politics is constantly shifting left. Good of bad? Up to you.
The next thought that I want to bring up is that I think overall, its the Left that is shifting more left, rather than the right shifting further away. If I was to stand in one place, and you moved farther away, it would be senseless to accuse me of moving away from you, right? Well a similar thing is happening. Of course, Right wing media is accusing of the modern Left of being “communists” “socialists” or puppets of China, but that’s not the point.
New issues have taken the stage of politics today, social and economic that challenge the status quo. Transgenderism wasn’t a question 20 years ago. The idea of what gender is was understood to be connected to body anatomy and more in-depth, to the chromosome composition. Take a look at how Bill Nye “The Science Guy” addressed the question of gender in the 90’s
Its interesting that today, the question of gender is now debated on who is allowed in which bathroom and when can an individual go through a gender-transition surgery. Conservatives are holding a value that both liberals and conservatives generally held for decades, and today are treated as “moving” to the right, where the position is very much center, agreed until recently.
The new issues coming up today on the role of the government in a modern economy and society is forcing conservatives to take a stance that most liberals had years before, while the modern Left moves further into changing the status quo. Is this good or bad? depends on your outlook on life. If you are transgender, or hold a philosophy on gender that is non-traditional, then its a good thing, the political wave is moving in your favor. Good or bad is up to the individual.
Big Idea 3: Celebrating left wing politicians as “centrists” is stupid.
This is where I get more personal. It irritates me how today media (which tends to favor a modern Liberal outlook) tries to tout that the left wing politicians pushing forward new policies are “centrists” heroes who are trying to stop this wave of “right-wing” fanatics. And yes, I understand that if one goes to Fox News, they would find the same thing happening as well, although they like to tout their candidates as people of “common sense” against “radicals”.
However as stated before, the issues being brought up today are generally moving things to the Left, and the liberal candidates moving in that direction are clearly not “centrist” in any fashion.
Big Idea 4: The liberals of today might end up being the “conservatives” of 2040.
The final thing I do want to bring up is somewhat of a cautionary tale. With the political shift coming, and from my opinion, coming at an accelerated rate, if you subscribe to being more politically “left”, I have news for you! You are probably the right-wing extremists of 2040! Soon the issues that you hold, whatever it may be, will be seen as archaic and intolerant. Similar to what happened to the liberals of the 2000’s, the tide will turn and the political parties will adjust. Republicans will embrace todays Democratic policies, while the Democrats in Washington will move on to other issues and plans, touting the “New” Republicans as not accepting and trying to cause division for holding on to what was agreed upon in the 2020’s.
Its funny how that trend has been ongoing for awhile, and a part of me is excited to see how insane politics will be in the future, where issues like questions on gender and social security expansion will be a thing of the past. Where equity will (probably) replace equality as the greatest value in the nation. However, THAT conversation is probably for another blog.
*by “modern conservative” I mean to refer to more Bush-era conservatives in office, not the more recent populist candidates that have risen up during the Trump-era, although some do tout support for Trump while still holding on to traditional conservative ideals.