Monday, July 30, 2012

Texas GOP platform: a far-right wish list and a glimpse of the future

By Barbara J. Miner
You gotta love the Texas Republicans. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. A Texas Republican’s faithful, 100 percent.
To get a feel for that faithfulness, take a look at the 2012 Texas GOP Platform. It supports corporal punishment in public schools, opposes critical thinking, wants to ditch the Voting Rights Act, and pretty much rejects science, whether stem cell research or teaching about evolution and global warming.
That’s just for starters.
A number of the platform’s economic policies are, politely, goofy — such as getting rid of the IRS and property taxes, and returning to the gold standard.
Goofiness and outrageousness aside, it would be a mistake to dismiss the Texas GOP platform. It allows one to see what motivates the party’s hard-core activists, and perhaps to glimpse the future.
Big and bold conservatives — Texas-sized conservatives, one might say — have gained control of the GOP in recent decades and have moved the party to the far right. Today’s goofy plank may be tomorrow’s mainstream mantra.
Once upon a time, for instance, Republicans thought it was “nutty to fool around with the Social Security system.” At least that’s what George H.W. Bush said during a 1988 presidential primary. 
Now privatizing Social Security is a GOP article of faith.
Nor should we forget that Texas is a GOP powerhouse. It is home to both the most recent Republican president, George W., and to 2012 presidential hopeful and Texas governor Rick Perry. What’s more, Texas has 34 votes in the Electoral College — the second largest number in the country after California, and way surpassing Wisconsin’s 10.

The Texas GOP has gotten a bit of flack for its opposition to the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in schools. Now it claims the wording was a mistake.
What the party really opposes, according to Texas GOP communications director Chris Elam, is “outcome-based teaching” that challenges a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermines “parental authority.”
In other words, the party only opposes critical thinking when it makes students think hard.
Interestingly, Elam didn’t see fit to clarify planks that said a multicultural curriculum “is divisive.” Or that supported corporal punishment in schools. Or that denigrated public health policies on vaccinations.
The plank on the teaching science in schools, despite the swipe at critical thinking, shows definite political sophistication. It doesn’t come out and condemn the theory of evolution, but instead calls for “equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories.” It then specifically mentions “life origins and environmental change” — code for evolution and global warming.
If you ask biologists, however, the theory of evolution is not controversial; it’s established science. And those who are in denial about global warming either live in air-conditioned condominiums or don’t read the newspapers, which have been filled with disturbing reports about melting glaciers and holes in the ozone layer. To say nothing of droughts.
By the time the Republican national convention starts in Tampa on Aug. 27, spin-doctors will have worked overtime to make the GOP palatable to middle-of-the-road voters. But we thankfully have the Texas GOP platform to know where the party may truly be headed.
The platform says what it means and it means what it says. A Texas Republican’s faithful, 100 percent.
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This blog is cross-posted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Purple Wisconsin Project

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