Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 9, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

THE NEW MODEL REPUBLICAN PARTY....Earlier this week I had lunch with my mother. We got to talking about politics and she asked, "What's happened to the Republican party? They used to just be the party of rich people."

That's actually a penetrating question, and I want to try and answer it. In fact, I mainly want to try and answer it for conservatives who wonder why liberals treat them like lepers.

The Republican party, of course, still is the party of rich people, but if that's all it was then liberals like me would simply treat it as an ordinary opposition party to be fought civilly and compromised with when necessary. But it's become much more than that over the past couple of decades. It has become completely unhinged. Try this on for size:

Republicans won't rest until abortion is completely outlawed, Social Security is abolished, the welfare state is completely rolled back, the book of Genesis is taught in science classes, and the federal income tax is abolished.

When I occasionally repeat (milder) versions of this here, my conservative commenters think I'm nuts. "Every party has a few wingnuts," they say. "These guys don't have any real influence."

And the thing is, I think they're telling the truth. With a couple of exceptions, I think the kind of conservatives who visit here don't believe this. It's absurd. It's a caricature.

But the problem is that I'm not sure they realize what their party is becoming. The heart and soul of Republican grass roots activism can be found pretty easily: it's in Texas. The New Model radical right took over the Texas Republican party a decade ago and elected George Bush governor. They have since taken over the entire state and propelled one of their own to the presidency and another to leadership of the House of Representatives. They bring a messianic fervor to their task, and after successfully taking over the second biggest state in the union their sights are now set on the entire country. This is not a fringe group. It is the biggest, most active, most energetic, and most determined segment of the Republican party today.

So it's fair to ask, what do they really want? Not what their public face is, and not what's politically feasible at the moment, but what are their goals? What kind of America do they want?

The answer is easy to come by if you really want to know, because the Texas Republican party regularly publishes a party platform. And like all true believers, they are very clear about what they want. So here it is: selected excerpts from the Texas Republican Party Platform of 2000. At the end of six years with George W. Bush at their helm, this was and largely remains their vision for America.

The Texas Republican Party Platform for 2000

Texas GOP Platform

Short Translation

The Party calls for the United States monetary system to be returned to the gold standard. Since the Federal Reserve System is a private corporation, has no reserves, and is not subject to taxation or audit, we call on Congress to abolish this institution and reassume its authority, enumerated by Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, for the coinage of money.

The United States should return to the gold standard and abolish the Federal Reserve.

Congress should be urged to exercise its authority under Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the United States Constitution, and should withhold appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in such cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

The Supreme Court should not be allowed to decide the constitutionality of laws regarding abortion, religion, or anything else related to the Bill of Rights. In these areas, Congress should be allowed to pass any laws it wishes.

Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and the concept of the separation of Church and State and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.

We should completely do away with separation of church and state.

The party opposes the decriminalization of sodomy....We publicly rebuke judges Chief Justice Murphy and John Anderson, who ruled that the 100 year-old Texas sodomy law is unconstitutional, and ask that all members of the Republican Party of Texas oppose their re-election.

Gay sex should be a criminal offense.

The Party affirms its support for a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse making clear that the Fourteenth Amendments protection applies to unborn children.

All abortion of all kinds should be permanently outlawed by constitutional amendment.

No homosexual or any individual convicted of child abuse or molestation should have the right to custody or adoption of a minor child, and that visitation with minor children by such persons should be limited to supervised periods.

Gays should be treated like child molesters and should not be allowed to visit children unsupervised.

The Party believes that scientific topics, such as the question of universe and life origins and environmental theories, should not be constrained to one opinion or viewpoint. We support the teaching equally of scientific strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories--as Texas now requires (but has yet to enforce) in public school science course standards. We urge revising all environmental education standards to require this also. We support individual teachers right to teach creation science in Texas public schools.

The Biblical story of creation should be taught in science classes.

The Party supports an orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.

Social Security should be abolished.

We urge that the IRS be abolished and the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution be repealed. A constitutional tax, collected and controlled by the States, must generate sufficient revenue for the legitimate tasks of the national government.

The federal income tax should be abolished.

The Party believes the minimum wage law should be repealed.

The federal minimum wage should be abolished.

We further support the abolition of federal agencies involved in activities not delegated to the federal government under the original intent of the Constitution including, but not limited to, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the position of Surgeon General, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor.

The EPA, HUD, HHS, the Department of Education, and several other federal agencies should be eliminated. Since these departments supervise all federal welfare programs for the poor and sick, they are presumably advocating the complete abolishment of the federal welfare state.

The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.

Get the United States out of the UN.

The Party urges Congress to support HJR 77, the Panama and America Security Act, which declare the Carter-Torrijos Treaty null and void. We support re-establishing United States control over the Canal in order to retain our military bases in Panama, to preserve our right to transit through the Canal, and to prevent the establishment of Chinese missile bases in Panama.

Take back the Panama Canal.

This plank remains in the 2002 platform. Since Panama presumably would object to this, they appear to be endorsing military action to retake the canal zone.

Any person filing as a Republican candidate for a public or Party office shall be provided a current copy of the Party platform at the time of filing. The candidate shall be asked to read and initial each page of the platform and sign a statement affirming he/she has read the entire platform.

We are dead serious about all this.


These are not the words of sane people. This is not "reform," this is not "common sense," and this is not "restraining government growth." This is plain and simple madness and the people behind it have real influence.

California is probably the most liberal state in the country, so for comparison you can take a look at the California Democratic Party Platform for 2000 to see what the other end of the spectrum looks like. By comparison it's pretty feeble liberal fare: affirmative action, commitment to education, opposition to global warming, etc. etc. You may find many things you disagree with strongly and a few that you think are just goofy, but nothing remotely close to the Texas GOP. Nothing to compare with the obsessive militant lunacy of abolishing Social Security or seizing the Panama Canal.

If this were just a lunatic fringe we could all have a good laugh over their manifesto and then go out for a beer. But you can't dismiss it so easily. Texas-style conservatism has already put George Bush, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove in charge of the country, and it is very much the future of the Republican party. And for all the conservatives reading this: I know this doesn't necessarily represent what you believe. But whether you like it or not, this kind of thinking does represent a very strong, very fast growing segment of the leadership of your party, and this is why liberals think the Republican party is just plain scary these days. We know that this is their agenda, we know that they really truly want to do this stuff, and we know that they are steadily gaining influence.

And to liberals: this is what we're fighting. Republicans may be smart enough to make soothing noises and put friendly faces like George Bush's in front of their agenda, but behind the facade this is what they want and they won't rest until they get it. It's our job to make sure everyone knows this.

UPDATE: More here.

Kevin Drum 1:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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