I was a Reagan Republican, but I have severe doubts about our current crop of self-alleged “conservatives.” Tennessee conservatives in particular have been a busy bunch of beavers recently, with the “guns in bars” and “don’t say gay” and “no hand-holding” bills. Other than making Tennessee the laughingstock of the nation, it’s hard to see what such bills accomplish. So perhaps it’s time to ask a simple question: “Just what is it that conservatives are trying to conserve, these days?”
It seems obvious that Republicans are trying to conserve tax cuts for the super-rich, while sending everyone else to the poorhouse. But most Tennesseans aren’t wealthy, so that can’t be the reason we keep voting them into office.
Republican politicians are trying to conserve their fat-cat health benefits while denying decent health care to the elderly, but most of us care much more about our grandparents than hypocritical politicians, so that can’t be the reason we keep electing them.
Republican men are trying to conserve their power over women’s reproductive systems. But most Tennesseans don’t want our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to be forced to have babies they don’t want or can’t afford, so that can’t be the reason either.
Republicans are trying to conserve their unholy political unions while busting teachers’ unions, but most of us care much more about students and teachers than power-hungry politicians, so that can’t be it.
Republicans are trying to conserve American military power and global influence, as with the invasion of Iraq, which then-senator Barack Obama and the majority of House Democrats opposed. But most Tennesseans don’t want to rule the world, and the wars have only destabilized the Middle East, making Americans less safe, so that can’t be the reason.
Republicans are trying to conserve “morality,” but it’s a hypocritical morality that seems to boil down to “Heterosexuals can do whatever the hell they please, while non-heterosexuals are denied the right to marry.” And yet the same Bible that condemns homosexuality also condemns divorce, adultery and fornication.
Republicans are obviously trying to conserve brain cells by not using them to consider scientific facts like global warming. We can easily confirm that the earth is getting hotter because the once-fabled Northwest Passage recently became a reality, due to rapidly melting ice in northern climes. Melting polar ice caps and glaciers are causing sea levels to rise, another indisputable fact which has been reported all around the globe. But most Tennesseans don’t want to make the planet uninhabitable for their children and grandchildren, so that can’t be it.
Republicans are trying to conserve bigotry, by employing racial profiling, which is unfair to legal immigrants and native-born Americans with darker skin. But most Tennesseans are descended from immigrants, so that can’t be it.
Republicans are trying to conserve intolerance, by stopping the construction of mosques while Christians build churches wherever they please. But most Tennesseans believe in freedom of religion, so surely that’s not it.
I must admit that I’m completely stumped. How is it possible that Tennesseans keep electing people who seem to be intent on ruining our state, nation and the world? I think it’s time for us to conserve something, before it’s too late: … our votes!
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.