In a political landscape full of pundit-speak, spin and dancing politicians, it’s often difficult to cast a truly informed vote. So it's good to know you can still get politics served up straight, bold and unapologetic in Texas.
Not Your Dad's Party
I’m speaking, of course, about the brand new 2012 platform of the Texas Republican Party. Epic in scope, breathtaking in its lunacy, this platform covers everything from evolution to space exploration and is a clear, unambiguous glimpse into the worldview of today’s Republican Party -- a must-read for all who might be thinking of voting in that direction in November.
The Texas GOP platform reminds you that today's Republican Party is not your father's Republican Party. It's not even his father's Republican Party. As you read it, you’ll feel as if you’re being transported back in time to an age when scientists were considered evil sorcerers, women needed men and/or the government to decide how to manage their lives and education was something you did to children, rather than for them.
For example, this is how Republicans believe children should be taught about theories on evolution and global warming:
“We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is [sic] produced.”
Sounds reasonable enough. But I wonder if it would be OK with Republicans if teachers teach their students that it was, indeed, only after many scientific challenges to both of these "challengeable" theories that scientists accepted them as the likely answers to the questions, “How did we develop as a species?” and “Why is the Earth getting so darned warm?"
Though Republicans are big on challenging evolution and man-made global warming, it seems they don't want children to challenge much of anything.
"We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."
As Texas Christian University professor of economics, John T. Harvey, writes in his excellent piece at Forbes.
"... do they really and truly believe that teachers and school boards across the State of Texas are designing curricula specifically aimed at training children to challenge their parents?"
Actually, there are probably very few people who know exactly what the Texas GOP means about "undermining parental authority" but they do manage to interject a little paranoia into the old "father knows best" adage.
"Were we to implement such a policy, we’d have to be certain that we had already identified the concepts and values that were 'correct' (whatever that really means). Even a cursory reading of their platform makes it very clear that this is precisely what Texas Republicans believe and what those concepts and values are. This begs the question, who is really aiming to force their beliefs on our children, Texas schools or Texas Republicans?"
If kids do have the temerity to think critically in class, though, Texas Republicans know what to do.
"We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas."
Or how about Republican plans for women -- more specifically, women's bodies?
It may be FDA-approved, considered safe and effective by the American Medical Association and available at your local Walgreen's, but Republicans know better.
"We oppose sale and use of the dangerous 'Morning After Pill'.”
In their ongoing attempt to send abortion back to its back-alley roots, Republicans want to place themselves firmly between women and their doctors.
"We support legislation banning of abortion after 20 weeks gestation due to fetal pain."
Once again, the GOP knows better than research scientists, who find no scientific evidence to support such legislation.
The platform does make one sensible pronouncement regarding women, however.
"We strongly support women who choose to devote their lives to their families and raising their children."
It's just that it declares no such support for women who choose to do anything else.
Americans are gradually warming to the idea that gay and lesbian folk are as good, bad, decent and indecent as we heteros. We are also beginning to recognize the cruelty, impracticality and unfairness of marginalizing this large segment of the American population. But, Republicans see it a bit differently.
“We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.”
Homosexuals have been part of the human family ever since Peking Man found another Peking Man attractive. Not to mention, same-sex attraction occurs in every species, from primates to gut worms. Doesn't that qualify homosexuality as one of God's "unchanging truths?"
Anyone thinking about homosexuality with a clear, bias-free mind understands that it is neither a choice nor harmful to society. Who would choose to spend his or her life fighting for rights we straights take for granted? And, can anyone explain to me how on earth I am negatively affected by another person's fondness for members of his or her own sex?
There are many more equally nutty views espoused in the platform, including support for returning the dollar to the gold standard, abolishing income tax in favor of a national sales tax, gutting public education and, of course, deregulation, deregulation and more deregulation. But this is what Republicans stand for today. By purging moderates and independent minded conservatives from its ranks, the Republican Party has managed to reduce itself to a thick soup of right wing extremism that even Ronald Reagan would have a hard time recognizing as the Grand Old Party.
It seems every presidential election is touted as "the most important election in history." This time, however, it may very well be. And that makes the Texas Republican Party Platform equally important.
Read it, get to know it and then... run screaming back to the Democratic Party. Your nation will thank you.