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Friday, November 27, 2009

The Smaller Tent (a.k.a. the GOP Purity Test)

As reported over the past week, there is a "GOP Purity Test" making the rounds that, I suspect, is making Lee Atwater roll-over in his grave. In case you missed it, here goes:

(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill
(2) Market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
(3) Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) Workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check
(5) Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat
(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
(9) Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
(10) The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

Speaking of stimulus, this certainly stimulates a lot of thoughts in my head. First, here is how I measure up against this version of "political ethnic cleansing":

(1) AGREE - In principle I am for smaller government, lower taxes, etc. I am also not wildly fond of the stimulus bill either.

(2) DISAGREE - Market based? I've written a lot about this. The "market" puts profits ahead of all else. The market works when the product is a laptop computer or machine gun. The market doesn't work when the decision is between profit and patient (because profit wins).

(3) NEUTRAL - #3 is a sound-byte (well many of them are...) not a principle. Cap and trade is actually a fairly sounds economic principle, although implementing it would be tough. What's interesting is that the GOP has no alternative to cap-n-trade.

(4) AGREE - I am not in favor of the pending card-check legislation. I do, however, find it funny that the GOP uses the phrase "workers right", when generally speaking Republicans have never been all too fond of bills that advanced other workers rights.

(5) AGREE - Amnesty is an insult to all of those immigrants who followed the law and entered this country legally. Simply put, it's always a bad idea to reward illegal behavior.

(6) DISAGREE - We shouldn't be in either nation, period. Funny how this principle completely ignores the very reasons why we are in Iraq in the first place. What's more, trying to bring democracy to countries with zero history of it and in fact religious opposition to the very notion of democracy seems a bit of a problem in my book.

(7) AGREE (kind of) - The wording though is touchy, as it seems to hint at military action.

(8) NEUTRAL - I do not believe that any religious body should ever be forced to recognize same-sex unions. I also am actually fine with the term "marriage" being used to define a union between a man and a woman (etc.). HOWEVER, I do very strongly believe that same sex couples should have the right to enter into legal unions that protect property, codify other financial arrangements, etc. and that these unions should be valid in all states and territories.

(9) DISAGREE (kind of) - This is another sound byte, not a principle. Healthcare is already rationed in this country. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.

(10) NEUTRAL - I do believe in the right of lawful U.S. citizens to bear arms, but I do not believe in the right to "superior firepower". The government has an obligation to impose reasonable, common sense restrictions on gun ownership, including such radical ideas as not allowing "cop killer" ammunition and banning the private ownership of machine guns, flame throwers and main battle tanks.

So, what's missing from this list? Among other things, no mention or reference to the environment. Apparently the GOP ideologues believe that the "market" will keep our air and drinking water clean while also providing us with affordable healthcare.

No room in the tent for me.

What's interesting here is that this could end up creating a split in the Republican Party between those who are fiscal conservatives and those who are socially conservative. Ideological purity is a great idea when tossed around the think-tank, but it makes for bad governance simply because it takes the one-sided view that there is always just one solution to any problem. Pragmatism is necessary for governance to proceed in a meaningful way, as the vast majority of Americans will never be as "pure" as the list requires. In the end, governance is about governing ALL, not just those that agree with you.

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