Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

From Liberal to Conservative

The sudden resignation of House Speaker John Boehner leaves a large presence to fill in the US House of Representatives. Four years ago, I might have been content with an exit from the representative from Ohio. However, on Sept. 25, I had mixed feelings about the announcement.

Boehner, who was tasked with uniting a political party that was fracturing, and becoming more polarized by the minute, proved to be the catalyst for his recent decision.

While he clashed with President Barack Obama multiple times over the years, he remained willing to compromise, especially in concern to the funding of Planned Parenthood to prevent a government shutdown.

Yet, increased pressure from far right Republicans has forced his hand. Extreme political polarization has become less of a focal point, and more of a reality.

With the emerging, and now debating, 2016 presidential candidates moving into the spotlight, it is clear that the American public wants to reject such polarization, yet still encourages candidates that will defend their stance.

It is the aggressive candidates that are garnering media attention and popularity in the polls, which I am not sure provides an encouraging future. I used to joke that my passport need not be renewed, and a plan to escape to Canada was only a mild consideration. Yet, after looking at the potential candidates to fill Boehner’s seat, it’s no longer a comedic notion.

The public is sending politicians a clear message in early polls. Those with a public service record, or past political history, are losing popularity, and fast. Donald Trump, albeit his definitive lack of experience and offensive statements, still holds the lead in the public polls, one which he has had since July.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, ABC News/Washington Post, and CBS all report to have Trump in first place.

Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio all took gains after the second debate taking second and tying for third, respectively. It seems the consensus is clear. The less a candidate looks like a politician, the more popular they are with the American public.

The Democratic Party has a contrasting dilemma with a field full of political tycoons. The two frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are clearly pulling ahead of challengers like Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. It is still yet to be seen whether or not Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race, adding yet another big name with political capital.

Sanders, who is gaining in the polls, proves to be the liberal “cowboy,” stepping outside the lines of his political career. Sanders represents the Democratic Party embracing more candidates from the land of the far left, ousting Clinton as the golden prospect. However, candidates aside, is the shift towards the far left going to make matters worse, or better?

No matter what major candidate steps on stage, there seems to be a definitive shift away from moderate politics. Like Boehner, four years ago, I was labeled a far-leaning political force. Now, I am sequestered into a much smaller percentage of conservative Democrats.

While my position on typically polarizing issues, such as immigration, abortion, etc. has not fluctuated much, I am now placed much farther right on the political scale than I would ever have imagined.

Compromise has become a characteristic of weakness, only allowing staunch, unrelenting opinions to surface. This extends not only on the national platform, but also between young conservatives and liberals on campuses across the country.

Each election cycle, social media becomes a war zone. Friendships lost over simple posts, joking or not. Discussion and intellectual conversations become null and void, and accusatory and often personal attacks are the substitute.

All in all, stay informed, stay involved, and most of all, stay open-minded. 

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