Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Republican Duh-genda: Paul Begala In 'Newsweek'

This is the smartest piece of political journalism I've read in weeks. Paul Begala's weekly column in Newsweek/The Daily Beast talks good sense about the Republican duh-genda (hey, I think I just coined a new phrase!). I've streamline it here, and recommend taking a look at the entire piece. Scary smart stuff. *

I have read several state-party [political] 
platforms so you won’t have to. They offer a road map to heaven or hell, depending on your party preference. I started in Texas—the most Republican big state in America. Every single statewide elected official is a Republican. Of the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives, 101 are Republicans—and they’re hunting the other 49 down with dogs.

Texas Republicans hate the heavy hand of government. And so they oppose mandatory preschool and kindergarten, mandatory immunizations. It’s one thing to be anti-government. It’s another to be pro-stupid. Yet the Texas GOP actually opposes thinking. Seriously, their platform proudly declares: "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical-thinking skills, and similar programs."
As Texas populist Jim Hightower likes to say, if ignorance is bliss, these are the happiest people on earth.

My Republican family and friends back home will say they just flat don’t want gubmint gettin’ all in 
your grill. Unless, of course, you’re gay. Or a woman seeking to choose to have an abortion. Then the government will not only be in your grill, it will be controlling your carburetor. For those keeping score at home, mandating a polio vaccine: tyranny. Mandating invasive ultrasound: freedom.

Predictably, Texas Republicans want a land without Social Security, without the United Nations, and without President Obama. But the 23-page platform has some truly random gems, like opposing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was negotiated and adopted under the presidencies of those dangerous radicals, Reagan and Bush.

On the economy, Texans proudly quote at great length from the GOP’s national platform—from 1932. I kid you not. These folks pine for the policies of Herbert Hoover. They want to repeal the minimum wage, abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard.

Lest you think this is just a Texas thing, let us check in with the progressive people of Minnesota.
Their Republicans love our Constitution, but want to add an amendment declaring that life begins at conception and allowing men who impregnate women to have an equal say in what happens to the fetus. The platform is silent as to whether rapists would be so empowered.

The Minnesota GOP also supports teaching of "creation science" and opposes any teaching about sex—except abstinence. So how do you explain to Minneapolis high schoolers what then-GOP senator Larry Craig was doing in their airport men’s room? Like Texas, the Minnesota GOP wants to reinstate the ban on gays in the military. It will be a lot easier to root them out now that we’ve let them come out of the closet. Fiendishly clever, my Republican friends.

But aren’t the Democratic crazies just as crazy? No, actually. I reviewed the Democratic platforms of Vermont (which has a socialist senator), Massachusetts and Hawaii. None of them is as far left as some of the Republicans are right. No one is calling for the proletariat to own the means of production. No Democrat wants to nationalize the oil companies. They mostly repeat the standard center-left calls for gay rights and women’s rights, more health care and better schools.

I must admit I found the GOP platforms more entertaining. But then again I like Stephen King novels, too. The difference is Mr. King doesn’t try to enact his fevered fantasies into law.