For sixteen years now, I have identified as a classic conservative. I enthusiastically supported Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVoting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda A call to regular order: Joe Manchin and the anomaly of the NDAA MORE (R-AZ) in his primary fight back in 2000, and was glad to see him make it to the final round eight years later, although I couldn’t ultimately support him in the wake of his running mate selection.
I’m a proud gun owner and concealed carry permit holder. I drive a big, ridiculous V8 Mustang because ‘Murica. I believe in fiscal responsibility, a government that doesn’t intrude into the private lives of its citizens, and largely believe in the power of properly regulated markets and private enterprise to innovate towards solutions to the big problems.
I want to get back to arguing over how to approach global warming, either with top heavy government regulation, or a free-market, cap-and- trade type system. I want to get back to shooting down dumbass arguments against “assault weapons” (which is redundant) or supporting reasonable alternatives like universal background checks.
But I’m not doing that.
Do you know why I’m not doing that?
Because the party that is supposed to represent my values as a conservative has lost its ever-loving mind.
Instead of arguing over the most cost-effective to deliver affordable healthcare to all Americans, Republicans continue to argue that the plan they spent thirty years fighting for is suddenly socialist because it was signed into law by a black dude, and that twenty million people need to lose their health care without any plan in place to help them.
I know some of these people personally. They are old clients of mine from back when I was selling health insurance. They are friends and colleagues I’ve met as an author and comic, self-employed people who were finally able to start their own businesses because they didn’t need their old employer’s group insurance anymore.
Some of them have severe and complex medical conditions which require constant management. If the ACA is repealed, they will lose their insurance, they will go broke paying for the drugs and treatments they need to survive, and then they will die. For all their baying in 2010, the real “Death Panels” are convening right now, and I will be attending funerals as a result.
Instead of looking for market-based solutions to the undeniably real crisis of global warming, the President elect claimed that it’s all a lie invented by the Chinese and that 97 percent of the world’s climatologists are in on the conspiracy for, I don’t know, all that sweet Greenpeace money?
Instead of continuing down the path of leadership and innovation laid out for us by the outgoing administration, Republicans are throwing the whole process in reverse and running back towards failing industries like coal, unable to recognize the simple, inescapable economic reality that it’s going the way of whale oil. For the first time, solar energy is cheaper than legacy production methods in emerging markets.
The economies and infrastructure systems of the future will be green, not because of tree-huggers, but because of bedrock market forces. We can either embrace that reality and start running ahead of the curve in preparation, or we can continue to fall further behind, wasting untold billions propping up an outdated system that only benefits the wealth of extractors at the cost of the health of everyone else.
And instead of debating reasonable gun control measures, I’m suddenly in the very awkward position of being the go-to person my circle of liberal friends seeks out with questions as they consider learning to use and purchase firearms for the first time because they are finally as afraid of their government and fellow citizens as some of the right-wing fringe militia folks were under Obama.
Except they have every right to be afraid, because their incoming President has actually encouraged his supporters to use force against protesters and even offered to pay the legal fees of their assailants.
More importantly, his campaign rhetoric, coupled with his victory, has given a semblance of credibility to xenophobia, racism, sexism and religious bigotry.
Since the election, hate crimes have spiked, with over a thousand incidents reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center since Nov. 8.
One of which I witnessed personally not a week later.
Instead of fighting for conservative solutions to our shared problems, I find myself arguing with “conservatives” who, despite all the objective, verifiable evidence, can’t even admit that our shared problems even exist in the first place.
I am a conservative. I have always been a conservative. And I really, really want to go back to arguing for conservative causes. But until the people who have stolen that word from me return it, and return to the evidence-based ideology demanded of them by people like Edmund Burke, and Michael Oakeshott, I have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my liberal friends.
Because I have tell you, as it sits, they are far closer to where I have always stood on the political spectrum than anyone who wears an (R) after their name in Congress or pulled the lever for that precancerous orange colon polyp who is about to enter the White House.
Help me get back to arguing with the right (left) people for real reasons.
Patrick Tomlinson is an author and regular contributor to the Hill on state, local and national politics. Follow him on Twitter @stealthygeek.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.