Quickly: Which U.S. President presided over the creation of:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Mining Enforcement Safety Administration
and expanded the powers of the Federal Communications Commission
as well as launched the Employee Retirement Income Security Act?
That would be Richard Milhous Nixon, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican.
Did Mr. Nixon actually give a rat’s ass about any of these things from an ideological standpoint? Apparently not; he was an almost pure political animal. He appointed William Ruckelshaus, a safe Republican, as the first administrator of the EPA with the warning that he was “not to be captured by that bureaucracy.” Ruckelshaus reported that Nixon was neither knowledgeable of or even curious about environment issues. “He never asked me the whole time I was at the EPA: ‘Is the air really dirty? Is there something wrong with the water? What are we worried about here?’” said Ruckelshaus.
Nixon did not give a rat’s ass about the environment but he did care about votes. He was much more conservative when an election wasn’t on the horizon.
Fast forward to today. Unlike in Nixon’s America, the GOP no longer has ultra-conservative and liberal “wings” attached to a stolid conservative center. All of the liberal Republicans as well as the stolid centrist Republicans have been purged or morphed (for survival purposes) into what then would have been called ultra-conservatives. A similar process has occurred in the Democratic Party, except there the liberals weren’t purged they were just told to sit down and shut up.
So, if you combine all of this with GOP voter suppression (Democratic voters anyway) and gerrymandering of the Congressional districts, the only barrier to election for most Republicans is now getting nominated, which means the votes of any but the now wholly right-wing Republican Party do not count. And voila. The fear of the voters has been eliminated. Behavior like Nixon’s has been eliminated. Compromise has been eliminated.
And we allowed this to happen through our apathy and clinging to myths. (I do not exclude myself in this condemnation.)
So, when are things going to improve?
Guess, just guess.