Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the Texas GOP revisited

I couldn't seem to let the Texas Republicans or their accusers rest in peace, so here is a small article I wrote. The link is edited by The Hampshire Gazette. This is the original: 
                          HATS OFF TO THE TEXAS GOP

As your average earthy-crunchy, left-wing, comsymp liberal who gets his news from the BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, and less intensively from The Washington Post, The New York Times, a couple of English news papers and the Gazette, I guess I am as politically numbed as the next person when the nightly TV news begins its coverage of the 2012 presidential election.

My logical mind sympathizes with newscasters who need to keep up with the Jonses, news-wise, and are as worried as the next fellow about putting spaghetti on the table or gas in the BMW, but my illogical mind rebels at the segments of political cotton candy they can unleash with straight faces in two- or three- or five-minute segments.

Romney goofed calling the Health Care Law charge a "penalty" and later calling it a "tax." And Obama is called onto the carpet for similar verbal gaffs. I can feel the mental Novocain setting in as I watch the evening news. Where are specifics on the economy, the latest Depression, or a couple of wars that gain little and cost much?

But perhaps this is what the candidates intend -- drugging me with inconsequential nonsense or negative ads. Don't these guys ever stand FOR anything concrete and documented? Yes, I am numbed, but isn't there a danger in that?

But the other day, I realized that there was another part of me that had not quite been perfectly anesthetized when I read the Texas Republican Party's political platform for 2012. This 22-page document caught my serious attention in a number of ways, none of them resembling the numbed-up-and-dumbed-down sense I got from the television. This is a document full of very specific, like-it-or-lump-it positions that are on paper for any and all to see.

The fact that much of it made my gorge rise was almost irrelevant when compared with the delight I felt that someone was saying something ... anything ... clearly and openly.

For example, the Texas GOP platform opposed critical thinking in schools:

"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."

Fellow knee-jerk liberal friends to whom I sent this statement of policy were predictably blase. "What did you expect?" one of them wrote back. And certainly various rallies and political actions staged by conservatives have sent a similar implicit message ... loud 'n' dumb wins the day.

But I think my friends missed an important point: Here it was in writing, open and out-front, documented and concise. No more 'guessing' at motivations. No more 'assuming' what the backstory might be. No more unfocused knee-jerk liberal reaction. If you wanted something to be scared about, here it was in black and white.

The Texas GOP platform statement is replete with concrete conclusions about concrete issues. Schools, taxation, foreign aid, marriage, military, parental rights, religious freedom, firearms, abortions, welfare, immigration, Israel, lobbying, judgeships ... the list goes on and on, with some segments contradicting earlier assertions.

And if I had the power, I would make the Texas GOP platform mandatory reading for all of my left-leaning friends. Not so they could make knee-jerk blase and dismissive comments but so that they could see what it feels like when someone delivers something other than Novocain.

Sure, you can see why Romney might keep such policy statements at arm's length and you can imagine Obama doing the same on his side of the tracks. But in the name of democracy and for the good of the nation, isn't a little hell-raising, a little heated debate on articles of human concern, and, yes, a little vomiting where necessary, worth the price of admission?

I think it is.

And for that reason, I salute the Texas GOP and its sometimes grotesque candor.

I may hate it, but I love it.

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