I wrote this op-ed in 2015 following Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) saying that he didn’t believe Starbuck’s employees should be required to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Given what is going on in 2020 is seemed appropriate to revisit it.
By the way, Tillis is up for re-election this year.
Good, freedom-loving Americans can sleep a little more soundly tonight thanks to North Carolina’s U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R). Lovers of big government should quake in their Birkenstocks in fear of this man. Tills is a patriot who is taking a stand against burdensome government regulations, unfunded government mandates, and job-killing rules and regulations.
Tillis defiantly told a Washington, D.C. audience last week that, “We’re one of the most heavily regulated nations in the history of the planet,” and he is prepared to draw a line in the sand. He thinks that food services workers should not have the onerous burden of being required to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
This is the latest example of a right-wing politician competing for a small, vocal, and (most importantly to them) active share of the electorate by engaging in extremist political one-upmanship. While it’s unlikely that this unsanitary suggestion will be considered anytime soon, its mere utterance ensures the next officeholder or candidate looking to grab a quick headline will have to try all the harder to get attention by forcing political discourse further to the extreme.
The left certainly has its share of extremist attention whores and wackos, but in recent years, the Republican Party has been hijacked by irresponsible and reckless people driving the once Grand Old Party into chaos. In the current climate, it would be virtually impossible for a reasonable, honest conservative like Lincoln, Eisenhower or even Reagan to get the party’s nomination without rebranding themselves to satisfy the radical far-right wing of their party.
Quite frankly, I doubt they would want the nomination given what the Republican Party has turned itself into. It was Abraham Lincoln and like-minded individuals who founded the Republican Party out of the ashes of a divided Whig Party in the 1850s.
The gentleman from North Carolina is beating the over-regulation drum, hoping to carve himself a little niche in the national debate over who is the most ideologically pure conservative.
By and large, the radical right’s race to the extreme has been orchestrated, not by ideological commitment, but by political opportunists, looking for an advantage over their opposition. Not the opposition of the Democratic Party or the professional left, but those of other right-wing opportunists like themselves.
The unfortunate, but the natural result for the right will most likely resemble the results of the left’s radical lurch in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Only this time, it won’t be Black Panthers, Weather Underground, or Student for a Democratic Society making headlines. It will be the Patriot Thingamabobs or Tea Party Whatchamacallits making headlines.
Can we come back from the edge before extremists like Senator Tills spin out of control leading to violence or a public health disaster? I don’t know, but I hope that this nonsense will burn itself out before our nation finds itself in flames.