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Kevin Buck: Reasons why conservatives are upset

Posted: June 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.

There is a reason that conservatives in general and conservative Republicans specifically are angry and upset.

They are losing the cultural and political battle for the heart and soul of the American public.

It began with FDR’s election and the enactment of the New Deal. The Republican Party fought tooth and nail against that progressive legislation. They lost badly, yet they have never given up trying to dismantle its legacy and repeal its signature achievement: Social Security.

In the 80-plus years since the progressive New Deal legislation was enacted, we have seen many more progressive political triumphs.

Medicare for seniors, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act became laws.

The women’s rights movement was born and continues the struggle for equality in the workplace, education and the home.

In just the last decade, the acceptance of gays and lesbians as full and equal members of our society has become another great political battle for civil rights the progressives are winning.

Clean air and water standards, safe foods, federal lands protected for generations to enjoy are government working for us.

It is no wonder that conservatives are angry. As hard as they try, the progressive agenda is inexorably being advanced, one issue at a time, and they have been powerless to stop it.

That is not to say there have not been setbacks, roadblocks or losses on some issues — that is the nature of power and politics, but the overall arc of recent American history has a leftward tilt.

As some say, reality has a liberal bias. Government working to make our lives better undercuts the conservative belief that the federal government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

The main reason conservatives have such a difficult time countering the liberal agenda is that, taken separately, each issue is supported by a majority of Americans.

Medicare, Social Security, stewardship of federal lands, the minimum wage, equality for all Americans regardless of race, gender, religion or whom they choose to love are winning issues and will remain so as the huge Millennial generation matures and solidifies its own nascent liberal bias.

There is probably no better modern example of this than the Affordable Care Act.

There was no logical reason for Republicans to oppose the ACA. It is a market-based health care plan, originally introduced by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

It was first implemented on the state level by then-Gov. Mitt Romney, later the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

But the ACA was passed and signed into law by the Democratic Party and President Obama, so game on, beginning with the 2010 mid-term elections.

Conservative billionaires, led by the Koch brothers, funded astro-turf political groups to rile up the conservative base and protest the law at town hall meetings — and the Tea Party was born.

Because the ACA was three years from implementation, the lies, distortions, attack ads and imaginary worst case scenarios worked their magic, Republicans swept to a majority in the House and only terrible candidates kept them from a Senate majority.

But 2012 was a different ACA story. We saw the same fear-mongering from conservative PACs funded by the 1 Percent, the same faux outrage from the right-wing media, but this time the political magic was gone.

Republicans lost seats in the House, failed to win the Senate majority, and President Obama was re-elected in an Electoral College landslide.

This year the ACA is no longer theoretical; it is the law of the land helping more than 10 million people get health coverage previously denied to them.

It is another government program that will help generations of Americans.

The Republican political leadership has dropped it as an issue in the coming election; they don’t even have DOA repeal bills scheduled for a House vote as a sop to the tea party.

It’s over, and in its place as the new shiny object to rile up and focus the base, which is ... Benghazi!

More on that topic later, since it is now the horse Republicans are riding all the way to November.

However, it is not a winning issue, as the ACA was in 2010, but it’s all they have left, so once again, game on.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.



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