Conservatism is no excuse to ignore people’s needs

Political beliefs can't stand in the way of progress

Chaudhry believes the political divide shouldn't impede progress.

Amidst a global pandemic and an open conversation of state-induced repression, it has become more critical than ever to analyze effective government and hold representatives accountable for their duty to the people. 

Conservatism is built upon a foundation of preserving traditional institutions proven to maintain prosperity effectively. As a political theory, conservatism asserts that incremental change is preferable to radical breaks from existing establishments because we should learn from our past. Conservative virtues are skeptical of human nature. Their pessimistic view of societal impulses promotes discipline, tradition, and the conservation of effective legislation through small government and low taxes. 
Political parties in a democracy have a responsibility to uphold good governance and hold our representatives accountable for their actions. They have a responsibility to sustain human development. 
Unfortunately, the partisan divide in the United States has created a tumultuous political climate. The Republican party (GOP) scapegoats conservativism to disenfranchise the public, enforce systemic repression, and encourage governmental deadlock. 
The 2016 election gave voice to a new wave of Republicanism in the American political realm. The elected president transformed party values into exploitation of partisan politics and repression of marginalized people, effectively ostracizing minority groups. The GOP has normalized the blocking of bills that would improve the lives of everyday Americans. This toxic partisanship has eroded effective governance. 
During this national crisis, many Republican representatives have continuously blocked relief bills meant to help struggling citizens. Republicans opposed the COVID-19 relief bill, Violence Against Women Act, and For the People Act, which are among the legislative proposals designed to protect and serve the public’s inalienable rights. 
While neither of the two major parties in American governance is perfect, the Trumpism exacerbating the partisan divide has led to petty interpersonal grievances being addressed through legislative voting. Party representatives have even made claims of communism eroding their country to oppose democratic provisions. 
Their consistent opposition to legislation introduced by Democrats has led to the rejection of too many bills that would make America safer. The vilification of democratic representatives should not be the basis of political maneuvers. 
The Republican party’s hypocrisy is evident in its manipulation of voting districts. The GOP has continuously pushed for stringent voting regulation laws despite insufficient evidence suggesting any electoral fraud. Their gerrymandering also facilitates the redistricting of predominantly democratic areas to dilute support. Whether through strict regulation for voter registration, closing of polling stations, or encouraging distrust of mail-in voting, representatives have taken every opportunity to create obstacles for equal participation in the American democracy. 
Canadian politics are a more socialized version of the American system. The three main parties involved in Canadian governance—the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the New Democratic Party—all support universal healthcare, extensive gun control, and generally adhere to their citizens' everyday needs. 
However, critics of Canadian conservatism often argue that its approach to governance is too liberalized and strays too far from traditional values. The Conservative Party of Canada has increased its scope for federal spending to account for 13.2 per cent of the GDP, nearly a full per cent above the Liberal Party’s budget in 2005. Along with advocacy for lower taxes, the party’s support for socialized government institutions has created different perceptual issues than its American counterparts. 
Nonetheless, the Conservative representatives in Canada more adequately participate in the creation of an effective government. While not enough, Canada has taken substantive steps toward addressing systemic inequity during a global pandemic by providing its citizens with monetary relief and socialized medicine. Our Conservative Party’s arguably unconservative approach to politics facilitates progress by not allowing pettiness to undermine governance quite so often. 
Tradition is no excuse to buckle down on outdated norms and institutions that often no longer serve a country's ever-changing needs. Conservatism is no excuse to exploit the lower classes or reinforce systemic oppression. 
In a time of increased awareness and grievances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social reform is necessary to increase equity, responsiveness, and government participation. As Canadian students observing American political discourse, we must remember that prejudicial and exclusionary ideologies enable marginalized communities' exploitation—look no further than our government’s continued mistreatment of our Indigenous communities.  
Right-wing extremism is on the rise in Canada, riding in on a wave of pervasive Trumpism from the United States. Our job as a political driver in today’s wildly divisive world is to ensure conservatism does not further devolve into a foundation for prejudice. It cannot stand between society and effective government. Young people have never been more influential; our voices must hold our governments accountable. 
Partisan pettiness should never stand in the way of progress. 
Rida Chaudhry is a second-year Arts & Science student.

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