10:00 AM EST, November 23, 2012
Former Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. presents a 20-point platform for Republicans to "be proud of" ("A platform for the next Republican nominee," Nov. 18). Let's examine each of these points in detail, and the reader can decide if any of them are things to be proud of. Mr. Ehrlich says that the Republican conservative movement:
•"Chooses to respect the American tradition of religious liberty as applied to faith-based institutions." Poppycock! This has nothing to do with religious liberty — it is just an excuse for religious employer (the Catholic Church in this case) to deny basic medical care to their employees (of any faith) by claiming it violates their religious doctrine. In fact, it's depriving their employees of their religious freedom by forcing the employees to conform to the church's doctrine in its non-church-related businesses.
•"Believes in a limited federal role (and major local role) in public education." This is code for disbanding the Department of Education and letting local school boards dominated by creationists define our scientific curriculum.
•"Understands that open borders are anathema to a nation built on the rule of law." This is code for keeping Central Americans out. America was built on immigrants bringing fresh ideas and hard work. The rule of law has nothing to do with it —plenty of dictatorships are built on the "rule of law." Nobody's talking about sealing the Canadian border because they are (mostly) white and (mostly) speak English.
•"Welcomes our ethnic diversity but celebrates assimilation into our uniquely American culture." This is code for "you're welcome in America if you are white and speak only English." Being white and speaking English is not "uniquely American." And why won't those black people assimilate and become white?
•"Would not put up with the official misconduct of President Bill Clinton." What "official misconduct"? Clinton's misconduct was entirely personal — nothing to do with his official duties. While we're casting stones, what about the repeated voter suppression schemes done on Mr. Ehrlich's behalf? Are the Republicans really going to run against the most successful presidency in half a century?
•"Respects the religious values represented in our Judeo-Christian heritage." Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and non-believers need not apply. Republicans only include Jews as lip service — they are perfectly happy to force their version of fundamentalist Christian dogma on everyone. By the way, there is no such thing as Judeo-Christian heritage. There is Jewish heritage and Christian heritage. Christianity is perceived by Jews as a Jewish heresy taken over by Gentiles. Fundamentalist Christians believe that Jews are doomed to hell. Not much room for a joint heritage here.
•"Believes in every adult's right to his or her contraception option of choice but rejects the notion that the taxpayers should be forced to pick up the tab." The Republicans complain about poor people having too many babies and teenagers having abortions, but they oppose the one thing that would do most to prevent that: free contraception. Either they are hypocrites or just plain stupid. And the government isn't even paying for that — just requiring that medical insurance cover it. The policy holders are paying for that — and it actually saves money in the long run because an abortion or a full-term pregnancy cost a heck of lot more than some birth-control pills.
•"Clings to the belief that America's Constitution, democratic institutions, market capitalism, and anti-imperial attitude make it 'exceptional.'" Code for "America is best, everyone else is inferior and therefore [ironically] American imperialism and interventionism is justified and we cannot learn anything from any other culture or society."
•"Advocates for free and fair trade as the cornerstone or our market economy." Code for "ship all our jobs overseas to maximize corporate profits."
•"Realizes the role 'community organizers' played in the mortgage crisis." Really? The mortgage crisis was caused by local community leaders, not reckless, greedy financiers working without oversight? Banks make loans, not community organizers. This is just a thinly-veiled slam on President Obama's early political career. Guess what, Mr. Ehrlich? You don't get to run against Mr. Obama again.
•"Views small business job creators as quintessential American success stories." Sure, these are great propaganda stories but irrelevant to Republican policies, which favor not the small businesses but job-crushing billionaires. This really means eliminating federal regulation of big polluters.
•"Would build the Keystone XL pipeline." This pipeline already exists to bring Canadian oil to U.S. refineries in Oklahoma. What the XL part does is lay a second pipeline across the major aquifer of the central U.S. and an extension to Gulf ports. The point of this pipeline is not to bring more oil to the U.S. but to transport it across the U.S. for export to other countries. It does nothing to further U.S. energy independence or reduce gas prices. Oil companies want this because they can sell the oil overseas for more money. They don't care if an oil spill permanently contaminants the water supply of millions of Americans. Fresh water is going to run out before gasoline does.
•"Opposes a culture that requires photo identification to buy over-the-counter allergy medication but rejects such a requirement when exercising the right to vote." So, they reject the "culture" of our founding fathers who never required proof of ID to vote? And they want to encourage the production of meth labs using over-the-counter Sudafed? Since there is no evidence of any in-person voter fraud, this can only be an attempt to disenfranchise the elderly, the poor and the urban population who often don't have driver's licenses.
•"Understands the myriad social ills brought about by fatherlessness in single head-of-household families." Another attack on single mothers (especially blacks) and the poor — notice that Mr. Ehrlich did not say that he cared about these people or that his party had a plan to help them — just that he "understood" the problems these families could cause the establishment. Typical, self-centered, what's-in-it-for-me? attitude.
•"Rejects notions of social promotion and other anti-merit measures of success in academics, business and government." Translation: no more affirmative action. More base appeals to the whites-as-victims sentiment.
• "Supports charter schools, voucher programs and just about any other option that allows poor students to escape the educational dysfunction that characterizes so many of our poorer school districts." Translation: Defund already impoverished school districts and make it so that middle class kids don't have to go to school with poor kids.
• "Will not force union-only 'labor peace' agreements on publicly-funded projects." Translation: break the unions whenever and wherever possible. Weaker unions means more profits for corporations and more income for billionaire CEOs.
• "Does not believe that new public-sector jobs produce economic recovery." Public sector jobs brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression, but this is a straw man — it's easy to be against something that nobody is proposing.
•"Prefers peace but views radical Islam as an existential threat to freedom everywhere." The last administration started three wars, which continue today (one without our participation) so the Republicans' "preference for peace" is a pretty weak claim. I'm against radical fundamentalist religions of any stripe (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or whatever), but radical Islam is not a threat to freedom anywhere but in Islamic-majority countries — not to us unless we are meddling in those countries. Republicans don't care any more about personal freedom or women's rights in Afghanistan than they do in the U.S. What Mr. Ehrlich and his oil company sponsors care about is a threat to stable oil supplies. 9/11 only happened because President George H.W. Bush's diplomatic bungling got us into a war with Iraq, which resulted in U.S. troops occupying holy Muslim lands. We were the radical infidels threatening their established cultures.
•"And cannot countenance a state (Maryland) that increases college tuition for legal students at the same time it decreases tuition for the children of illegal aliens." These children live in Maryland, went to high school in Maryland and they (or their parents) paid taxes in Maryland. They should pay the same tuition as the rest of the residents of Maryland who pay the same taxes. Aside from the fairness issue, there is the practical rationale that these kids are going to stay in Maryland, because productive citizens, assimilate better and pay higher taxes if they get higher education. This complaint is just the old method of getting poor whites to support slavery in the antebellum South — if you keep the underclass down, it will make the middle class feel better about the fact that the plutocracy is raking in the profits and keeping the middle class down. I am proud that a solid majority of Marylanders did the right thing and voted to keep the Dream Act alive.
So, conservatives, are you proud now? This is certainly a mish-mash of chauvinistic jingoism, propaganda, fear-and-hate mongering and class warfare that has stirred up enough outrage among some voters to win elections in the past. But the times and demographics are running against small-minded rednecks who see themselves as victims, so go ahead, run on this platform next time and see how that plays out.
Stan Sunderwirth, Ellicott City
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