The God Platform

Classify this under “Things That Make You Want to Jam Your Forehead Into the Nearest Piece of Drywall.”

For the past two weeks the chattering world has been buzzing about the RNC and DNC Conventions.  Beyond the political theater, there are two points to these events: officially selecting the party nominee for president and the unveiling of the official platform for each party.  The platform is a document that outlines what the party plans to do on various issues if given the power.  Simple enough.

BUT, the biggest political story this week relating to these platforms was the fact that *gasp* the Democrats had no mention of God in their platform.  As you might expect, in some corners this was played up as a clear sign that anyone who believes in God should not vote for a Democrat–they don’t share your values.

The response was swift:

Mitt Romney swooped“(That) this party purposely removed God from their platform suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people.  I see it as being as out of touch and detached.”

Catholic.orgDemocrats have rapidly backpedaled from their Godless stance that smacks of atheism in their platform. 

Fox News Charlotte: Delegates approved their beliefs as a party heading into the presidential election. But God is nowhere to be found.

But fear not: Yesterday the party (awkwardly and ridiculously) “amended” the platform via a voice vote to re-insert reference to God.

Drywall may not be strong enough.  I think the only way to recover from this inanity is concrete directly to the forehead at 35 mph.

There is a remarkable misconception that somehow we are becoming a country of heathens.  In the “good old days” we were a God-fearing country.  This DNC Platform is just another reminder of how far we have fallen, right?

Ummm, no.

Here is a graph showing how many times the REPUBLICAN platform included mention of God since the GOP’s founding:

I’ll summarize: For most of its history the GOP logically decided that a document about political positions did not need mention of personal spiritual opinions.  It is only very recently that the party *gasp* decided that politics and God were intertwined.  ‘

They’ve really out-done themselves, because God is mentioned TEN times in the 2012 platform–a subtle reminder that the GOP has simply  gone off the rails in recent years.

But I’m not sure mention of God in a political statement is an indicator of the quality of that statement.  Can you guess another political document that lays out a public governance plan that has ZERO mention of God?    The United States Constitution

7 Reasons Why I Can No Longer Call Myself a Republican

When I was sixteen I stayed up until 4am  watching the 2000 Presidential election returns come in.  I was rooting for Bush over Gore.  I don’t even remember why anymore–I didn’t truly understand their policy differences.  For the next ten years I roughly considered myself a moderate Republican.  No longer.

I can’t even pretend to support the national Republican party today. Believe me, I’m pretty good at making excuses for a team that I support, even when logic suggests otherwise. After all, I’m a lifelong Cubs fan.  But politics is different.  This stuff isn’t a game.  It matters to all of us.  And I can no longer justify anything about the current state of the GOP

So here, in no particular order, are seven reasons why I’m officially cashing in my elephant card for the time being

1) Equality:  If I cross the Potomac it is against the law for me to get married, adopt a child, or donate blood.  In large part it is entirely because of Republican conduct.  This is absolutely unacceptable.

2) Tax Cuts Over Deficit Reduction: The GOP used to support deficit reduction first, tax cuts second.  Now it supports every possible tax cut no matter what and has done more to raise the deficit than the Democrats over the last three decades.

3) Liberty Only When Conveneint: Today’s GOP is for individual freedom, except when it comes to what you do behind closed doors or chose to put in your own body.

4) Military Dogma: We are not in an arms race.  Reducing military spending does not mean that we are letting the terrorists win.

5) Inequality: The problem is not that there is economic inequality but that the rate of inequality has gone up 10-fold in twenty years.  It is not “class warfare” to at least ask questions about why this might have happened.

6) Obama Bashing: Supporting a healthcare proposal more moderate than Richard Nixon’s does not make Obama a socialist.  Supporting tax levels lower than at any point in the last 70 years does not make Obama a socialist.  Killing more terrorists leaders in two years than the previous ten does not mean Obama is “apologizing for America.”

7) All Regulation is Bad:  Going back to the Gilded Age of industrial barons will make the lives of 99.55% of us much worse.  Some  regulation–at the highest levels–in areas that affect every single citizen (finance)–does not mean that we are giving up on free-market capitalism.

Looking at this list as a whole, I realize my main concerns are two-fold: extremism and hypocrisy.  The fringe of the party has taken every basic idea to its ridiculous ends and claim to believe certain principles while supporting policies that reject them.   Republican Dwight Eisenhower  is perhaps the most under-appreciated President of the last century.  If you believe what he did, then today you’d be called a liberal.

Toe the Party Line

New Majority has a brief interview/profile of a Stanford college senior with a nifty politcal background.  The fella organized well for Mitt Romney in 2008 and has big plans the the Republican party.  Part of his advice for the future of the party…

Expanding the ‘youth vote’ to include those under thirty, Republicans can benefit by offering up a message to the upwardly mobile, essentially proclaiming ourselves the party of opportunity. As people distance themselves from college, get a job and a spouse, they are going to be much more inclined toward the Grand Old Party. If we can continue and improve upon our micro-targeting techniques, we can effectively organize this group into active Republicans that will vote the party line the remainder of their lives. Importantly, we need to ensure that the RNC Youth Coalition is prepared to take on all of these roles while we take steps toward being both tech and trend savvy.

I’m with him on most of it, because we aren’t talking about revolutionary stuff here: try to present an image of pragmatism devoid of the less naive pie-in-the sky idealism and be at the forefront of microtargeting and tech advances.  But, I still can’t stomache the plea to create Republican robots who vote the party line no matter what until they die.  Is that really what an organized party seeks to accomplish?  The short answer is yes.  But that doesn’t mean it is the right answer.

What possible good comes from instilling a blind allegience to some human-made organization, based on some random big picture generalities and without close scrutiny of the proposals and results of each individual candidate?  Nothing good comes from that.  It is how we got where we are.

The ironic thing is that earlier in the interview this young leader revealed the origins of his conservatism…

“When I was in junior high, a girl I had a crush on told me her favorite book was George Orwell’s 1984. I read that book and became so terrified at the prospect of a totalitarian government that I really began to self-identify intellectually as a conservative.

Building a massive political organization fueled by blind followers for life to avoid totalitarianism?  That doesn’t add up.

IL GOP = No Better

It’s a fact that the national Republican Party is slogging through an identity crisis without an end in sight.

However, what is less apparent (because fewer people pay attention to the politics closer to them) is that the state GOP has had the opportunity stop flailing and buck the trend (names like Blagojevich and Burris are Illionis Democrats, after all), but the state GOP is no different lately.  Kadner put it bluntly…

Conservative Republicans in this state hate moderate Republicans more than they hate the Democrats. […]

Just as Rush Limbaugh would rather see the U.S. economy fail than Obama succeed, it appears there are Republicans who would rather see their party fail than have moderates challenging the Democrats in the 2010 elections.

We have more than two kinds of people in the world, and so two major parties don’t exactly make logical sense.  However, that is the system that has developed over a pair of centuries in the U.S., and it ain’t budging soon.  But if a party commits to an orthodoxy too rigid they are doomed to either change or fail.  That is what is happening here.  My guess is that it will be failure for a bit, and then we will start seeing the change.

National GOP = Off the Reservation

I have no words to describe the national Republican Party.  Chaotic.  Rudderless.  Torn.  Confusing.  Lost.  Broken.  That is the stream of conscious version.  If you watch network TV and hear mention of the GOP, than it most likely is some version of  this reapeated over and over:

1. Chariman Michael Steele says something that seeks to paint the GOP as a more moderate party.  For example, “On if women have the right to choose an abortion: “Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.” 

On whether homosexuality is a choice: “Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.'” 

2.  Then he takes all kinds of heat from some GOP salwarts.  See HERE and HERE.

3.  Third, Steele panics and says the complete opposite thing.  For example, he in fact opposes abortion and supports a Constitutional ban, Ben Smith reports. 

4. Finally, another established GOP figure whispers about Steele being taken out. 

If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hilarious.  

This is a mess that must sort itself out, because it represents a battle between the two fractions of the Republican Party.  It’s very much generational, though not exactly split by age.  

One side thinks “conservative” means that there is an unalterable, ironclad set of rules that should never change and are not up for moderation.  The other side thinks that “conservative” means a governing philosophy based in caution, pragmatism, and defaults to less government involvement.

Count me as a supporter of the latter version.  We will win in the end.  But it may take my entire lifetime before the conversion is actually complete.  The Steele silliniess is just the opening.

Huntsman

Utah Governor Jon Hunstman has made this blog before.  You may recall that a few weeks ago he unexpectedly came out in support of civil unions. Think about that: A Republican Governor with deep personal Mormon roots in Utah publically supported a bill that was opposed by 70% of his citizens and ultimately was demolished in the state legislature.

That made me take notice.  In a good way.  And I think you should too.

Politico has a nice piece on the Governor (and future Presidential candidate).  I’ve taken the liberty of extracting some key parts of the article so that you can glean the goodness of Gov. Huntsman without having to read each of the three pages of the article….

Largely under the radar of the national media and even out of sight of many in his own party, Huntsman, 48, is emerging as an articulate, unapologetic and unlikely spokesman for a new brand of Republicanism […]

The party needs to be more intellectually rigorous, and to compete for the votes of the young, the elites and minorities, he said in an interview with POLITICO. To do so, the GOP needs to tack toward the middle on environment, gay rights and immigration. […]

“We cannot become the anti-science party and succeed,” he said. “We have to be intellectually honest as a party, and I think we’ve drifted a little bit from intellectual honesty in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, for example, where they would use rigorous science to back up many of their policies, and in this case many of their environmental policies. […]

Huntsman, a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker who was once Ambassador to Singapore, cited Reagan’s shift to a more moderate stance on China but also hinted at areas where the conservatives of today may find fault with their sainted Gipper. 

“He wasn’t afraid to negotiate with the evildoers in the world,” said Huntsman, using a word associated with another president who was emphatically opposed to engaging America’s enemies. “You know, in some cases we shy away from confrontation, meeting people on the world stage. He sat down with Gorbachev.” 

 

Dear GOP,

You say that you are ready to ready to tone down the outdated nonsense talk about social issues and return to the rational debate that made the Republican party an important, useful voice in our democracy.

If you are serious about that than you need to stop saying things like this:

GALLAGHER: Is this a time when Republicans ought to consider some sort of alternative to redefining marriage and maybe in the road, down the road to civil unions. Do you favor civil unions?

STEELE: No, no no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy? No. Why would we backslide on a core, founding value of this country? I mean this isn’t something that you just kind of like, “Oh well, today I feel, you know, loosey-goosey on marriage.” […]

GALLAGHER: So no room even for a conversation about civil unions in your mind?

STEELE: What’s the difference?

Remember GOP, rhetoric matters. Even if you say something for political reasons without actually believing it, the whole world will hear what you say, not just those who you are trying to appease. You will not return to political prominence by calling the consideration of civil unions crazy. A very strong majority supports civil unions, 65-70% of the nation. Let’s do math: 100% minus that percentage equals 35-40%. No one wins elections with 35-40%.

I know that we don’t make policy based only on what is popular at the time. But remember that we only starting attacking gay Americans in the past because it helped us win elections. So now that it won’t help us win elections, you should probably stop. Especially because it is wrong-headed policy that hurts people and helps no one.

GOP, I so desperately want you to get back to being a logical, rational, reasonable party. To do that, you need to offer needed debate on all of the issues that should matter to the government, and keep quiet on issues that do not matter to the government. Please do not forget about that. And stop making dumb statements on right-wing talk radio. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Paul