By Mark Bauer

In David Brooks’ most recent column for The Atlantic, the New York Time’s best-selling  author details his recent experience at the National Conservatism Conference, where some of the most educated and influential conservatives of the time descended to swap notes on the future of Conservatism.

One particular passage stood out to me early in the column: 

“The atmosphere is electric. [Rachel Bovard is] giving the best synopsis of national conservatism I’ve heard at the conference we’re attending—and with flair! Progressives pretend to be the oppressed ones, she tells the crowd, ‘but in reality, it’s just an old boys’ club, another frat house for entitled rich kids contrived to perpetuate their unearned privilege. It’s Skull and Bones for gender-studies majors!’ She finishes to a rousing ovation. People leap to their feet.”

This sentiment is common among a lot of folks on the Right who believe that social justice rhetoric on the Left is purely political—that is, they believe it’s a means to gain control. They believe woke-ism is merely a tool for taking power out of *our* hands and into *theirs.* It’s a zero-sum game. How do I know this? Because that used to be me.

I’ve been on a journey, of course, that began with me deconstructing the core of my belief system. I maintain my Conservatism, but now I’m an advocate for social change that recognizes the human dignity in all people. The advancement of that idea, however, will forever be hampered so long as civil rights remains tethered to a specific political party. Indeed, it’s difficult to simultaneously demonstrate the vulnerability and compassion necessary for advancing social equity in our country, and on the other hand try to dominate the political landscape.

This leaves us in a place where social justice gets relegated to campaign sound bites every 2 to 4 years; where human dignity is turned into a political football in the interest of scoring political points. And so long as social justice remains a prominent fixture of one party in our political duopoly, the other side will be intent on stymieing it. That’s the nature of politics. And we can drive ourselves crazy trying to muscle our way out of that doom loop, or we can get off the crazy train by implementing electoral reforms that actually allow ideas to surface that work to the benefit of all people.

That’s why I’ve put so much energy toward helping get ranked choice voting on ballots across the country, to break the “us versus them” power dynamic. We shouldn’t have to choose between sincere policy disagreements and protecting human dignity.

There’s a lot of good ideas out there, but our political system isn’t set up for progress; it’s set up for the preservation of power. And so long as Republicans and Democrats are the beneficiaries of that system, it’s the people who will continue to lose.



Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC. Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.