How are the two parties different?

What’s a Republican and what’s Democrat? It’s a fair question, seeing as our governor, Jim Justice, doesn’t seem to have the answer, either.

At a time when politicians, business titans and White House staff are running from the president, our governor is running towards him.

It made national news, not because a sitting governor switched loyalties again: it was the Bromantic way he did it. He didn’t fully explain why he ‘trans-partied,’ but it doesn’t seem like a winning strategy, or even a necessary one.

The way our two main political parties have reversed platforms is similar to how the earths’ electromagnetic field reverses positions every several hundred years, when the South magnetic pole becomes the North magnetic pole. We don’t feel the change, and compasses still work because it happens gradually.

If the earths’ equator is a metaphor for a moderate half-way point in todays’ Republican party, then that must have also changed latitude, judging by the way its voters relied on the compass of identity politics to elect a Trump.

Whatever you call the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats, it usually comes down to this: people of similar backgrounds, especially those with money, stick together so they can protect their investments while pretending that this will benefit the working class. You can call them the Democrats of the 1800’s to the 1950’s, or the Republicans of the 1960’s, but the name doesn’t always matter. It’s whom their policies favor that is the giveaway.

For example, when finance laws increase corporate profits, todays’ Republicans call them protections for the “job creators.” But if environmental laws safeguarding water and air decrease corporate profits, they call them “job-killing” regulations. Likewise, any controls on gun ownership (generally impacting white male voters) are called unconstitutional, but putting restrictions on legal abortion (impacting female voters) has become their highest priority. They describe themselves as believing in “the rule of law,” as if the opposition party does not.

As a new voter here, I hadn’t done my homework before I stepped into the voting booth, where I made the mistake of checking my smartphone for information. I was quickly reprimanded by the polling police, respectfully, but nonetheless I was embarrassed that women who are probably younger than I am had to scold me. And that’s how I ended up voting for Jim Justice the Democrat.

But I did read enough to know that during his campaign, when asked to comment on abortion rights, he responded by saying “the law is the law.” That sounds to me as if he believed in the rule of law, as a Democrat, in addition to upholding a woman’s right to choose. But now, if he were to reverse himself on abortion rights as a Republican, wouldn’t he have to say “the law is NOT the law?”

And that may be the difference between a Democrat and a Republican: rather than respecting a difference of opinion, the Republican party insists that we all surrender to their point of view defining the “Rule of Law,” depending on what the law is, and who it favors. We have seen, on the state and federal levels, their obsession to restrict Reproductive Rights. They won’t stop until their narrow opinion actually becomes “The Law”, whether the courts, or the public, agree or not.

I’m hoping Governor Justice, the Republican, will still believe that “the law is the law,” by continuing to protect the citizens of West Virginia from being criminalized for the choices they make, in circumstances involving the most personal and private part of their lives imaginable.

Carol Williams

Shepherdstown

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