Saturday, January 22, 2005

How to Compromise Everything to Get Votes

I received a strange email today that linked me to this site. From there, I found the Born Again Democrats Platform. I probably don't need to tell you that I cringed when I saw it. Born Again Democrats appears to be a group built around the notion that Democrats should be Republicans on social issues, and Democrat Lites on fiscal issues. They are operating on the now apparently widespread belief that the way for Democrats to win back the federal government is to ignore our principles. To do so, they advocate the adoption of several wholly un-Democratic, counterproductive, and intolerant positions, including:
  • An Immigration Moratorium: Let's let the xenophobia that is rampant in some red states win over, by not letting any new people in. Forget, for a moment, that we were all once immigrants. This is needed "to give this country a chance to assimilate the 30 million foreign-born citizens we already have." What, exactly, assimilation means I do not know. Perhaps it's only an economic assimilation, but the potential connotations are scary.
  • A National ID: In order to prevent illegal immigration and guard against terrorism, we should place a serious threat on peoples' civil rights by issuing them papers... er national IDs, "without which a person cannot cash a check, use a credit card, sign a lease, take a job, get a driver's license, open a bank account, enroll in school, or otherwise function in our society." (Emphasis mine). Don't be concerned about the impracticality of such an ID, or even the Big Brother-esque implications of a document that allows the government to track your movements at every turn. The Born Again Democrats have an answer for such concerns: "Concerns about civil rights in this context seem misplaced and overblown. The ACLU needs to grow up." Now that's an argument!
  • Marriage Amendment: Recognizing that one of the primary reasons many Democrats (especially southern Democrats) left the party, and started voting Republican, in the 50s and 60s had to do with the Democratic party's emphasis on tolerance and civil rights, the Born Again Democrats believe we should get rid of both, and support an amendment to the federal constitution that defines marriage as a union between "one man and one woman," and thus outlawing gay marriage nationwide. As their definition of marriage indicates, they also don't like polygamy, writing, "So in these two instances, at least, multi-culturalism be damned!" At least.
  • Put an End to Racial Preferences: Study after study has shown that in the absence of programs that are not race-neutral, minorities are at a significant disadvantage, particularly in the business arena, which is why the courts have consistently upheld affirmative action laws. But do we care? Not anymore, because rural red-state white men don't like that African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or women might be able to compete with them for jobs and contracts once the playing field is leveled. So, let's do our best not to level it, and maintain the white male status quo.
  • Community Standards: This one deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
    We support a re-interpretation of the First Amendment to exclude the protection of sexually graphic images and obscene language. The purpose of freedom of speech and of the press is to allow open debate of controversial ideas, such as we are engaging in right here. It was never intended to abolish small-town standards of decency and public decorum, let alone enable profit-making entities to pump hardcore pornography into every home and library in America. Let the local majorities decide! A place for everything, but everything in its place!
    Apparently adopting the Republican social agenda requires adopting the Republican penchant for hyperbole. Pornography is in "every home" and "every library" in America? One wonders what they mean by pornography, in this case. Even if we include porn spam (which you have to open, click on, and then click on some more, to see), it's not easy to argue that porn is being forced on anyone, but we're not beholding to reality anymore.
  • Teaching the Bible in Schools: Consistent with their reinterpretation of the First Amendment, the Born Again Democrats want to teach the Christian Bible in public schools. They write:
    We favor not just allowing but requiring the Bible to be studied in our public schools as an integral part of the history curriculum.
    "Not just allowing but requiring!" I'm all for noting the role, however limited, that Christianity played in the formation of our founding documents, as well as discussing the influence of Christianity on American history. I'm pretty sure this is already done (how many people don't know that the Puritans left England because of religious persecution, that Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, or that Maryland was so-named because of the Catholics who settled there?), but the Born Again Democrats don't think this is enough. They want to teach the Bible! Who cares that doing so is a blatant violation of the First Amendment (remember, we're reinterpreting it), or that teaching the Bible is likely to provide no insight whatsoever into American history, or world history in general. That's not the point. We want to teach the Bible, and it's a historical document, so it should be taught as part of the history curriculum.
The moral of all this is that we should compromise our Democratic values in order to get votes. If being intolerant, violating civil rights, teaching Christianity in the schools, and being blatantly xenophobic gets us red state votes, then that's what we should do. That's what politics is all about anyway, right?

UPDATE: More on National IDs at Doing Things With Words.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I ran across your blog while surfing around, and this is absolutely frightening. Although, it occurred to me: do you think there are a bunch of drunken Republicans sitting around, drinking vodka tonics and playing a rather amusing practical joke? That's the only explanation I can come up with for this! 

Posted by Viki

Anonymous said...

Hey, that's me you're talking about. In the first place, we don't take the Republican position on all, or maybe even most, cultural issues. E.g., we support the woman's right to choose, are opposed to prayer in the schools, or displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses. We are not trying to outlaw symbolic political speech, like burning the American flag, even though we think it is a stupid and counterproductive gesture.

As for being Democratic lite on fiscal issues, I don't get it. We support progressive taxation and income redistribution, for example, which is a lot more than can be said for most mainstream Democrats nowadays.

We are not jingoists and we do not practice xenaphobia. Our position on Mexican immigration, for instance, is premised on what's good for Hispanic Americans who are already here, as well as the75% of the population still living in Mexico. Read us more closely

Though you may quote T.S. Eliot, you, my good sir, are guilty of the worst kind of stereotypical thinking. But that's ok. It happens to the best of us unless we are careful.

I look forward to what you think of us a year from now. 

Posted by Luke Lea

Anonymous said...

Moving to the right is a political suicide:

http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2005/01/perils-of-ideological-continua-and.html

http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2004/11/two-americas-past-present-and-future.html

http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2004/11/my-feedback-message-to-dnc.html 

Posted by coturnix

Anonymous said...

It does appear, Luke, that you are more progressive than I first thought, on fiscal issues, but I stand by everything I said about you on social issues.  

Posted by Chris

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. 

Posted by Dan

Anonymous said...

No problem. My post was a rant. Yours was a reasoned analysis of one of the issues. I figure yours deserves more attention than mine. 

Posted by Chris

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