July 13, 2014

Extreme Conservatism, Texas Style

Remember a while back when our Sonuva Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that those pesky extreme conservatives don't belong in New York?  In case you had forgotten, here's the crux of what he said that people, naturally, took out of context:
Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right to life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives they have no place in the state of New York, because that is not who New Yorkers are. 
That caused a lot of consternation on the right, not surprisingly.It was pretended that he mean all conservatives need to pack up and move, or worse, stick around and then be sent off to 'camps' evoking Nazi Germany, or, say, America with our camps for the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.

In the months that have passed since Cuomo 'went there' on New York not being extremist, other states have boldly continued on their mission to take the National Championship of Extremism. We've seen the anti-equality laws, we've seen climate change denial, we've seen religious freedoms extend to bricks and mortar people equally as they extend to living breathing people, and we've seen moves to allow businesses to refuse service based on, well, pretty much whatever they want.   And now, we have the Texas Republican 2014 Party Platform.

Here are just a few tidbits from that document:
  • Preservation of Republican Form of Government: We support our republican form of government in Texas, as set forth in the Texas Bill of Rights, and oppose initiative and referendum. We also urge the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress to enact legislation prohibiting any judicial jurisdiction from allowing any substitute or parallel system of law, specifically foreign law (including Sharia Law), which is not in accordance with the US or Texas Constitutions. And because Sharia Law within our borders is such a threat, especially now that our first 'Muslim President' is a lame duck..
  • Climate Change: While we all strive to be good stewards of the earth, “climate change” is a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea for money to fund global climate change or “climate justice” initiatives. So when the 367 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline begin their inevitable degradation in the face of rising waters, and coastal cities, oil rigs, fisheries, billions in tourism and the like are threatened, we can all sit back watching Texas drown in their convictions, and ignore their pleas for even a penny of assistance. (And there won't be a citizens revolution in the form of 'initiative or referendum' to change this, because that would be wrong.) 
  • Homosexuality- Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation's founders and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples... Additionally we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.  So that part about all men being created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we'll ignore that part entirely.  And in case you are lost and wandering down the path of 'choice', there's hope for you: 
    • Reparative Therapy- We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy. Not sure if seeking healing and wholeness 'from' their lifestyle is really what they meant with this. Isn't that what gays are seeking 'with' their lifestyle, just like straight folks?
  • Food Choice- We support the right of individuals to make their own dietary decisions. We oppose any laws regarding the production, distribution, or consumption of food. Government should not restrict non-genetically engineered seeds. Any laws regarding food? Really? Roadkill can be distributed as food? Infected cattle can be turned into steaks, distributed and eaten? Note to self: no eating in Texas. And doesn't the part about seeds seem backwards? I don't think folks are really concerned about 'natural' seeds, the concern is all about the ones that are GMO or 'genetically engineered'.  Or do extreme conservatives think differently on this one?
  • Immunizations- All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent. So your personal choice to not vaccinate your kids against preventable infectious and contagious diseases can endanger my health and that's good with you, Republicans?  Hope you still fee that way if one of your family members is impacted by someone else's decision not to vaccinate.
  • Controversial Theories- We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of  scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challenge-able scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind. Yea, though I walk through the valleys of Texas with dinosaurs by my side, near underwater cities, I fear no evil for I have been educated in Texas!
  • Traditional Principles in Education - we support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America's legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and Founder's writings. Except we'll disregard all of the pieces that have been changed over the years like ending slavery, voting rights, civil rights, etc. Unless they're about 'science' in which case we can re-think them "as new data is produced."  And then there's that whole Judea-Christian economic system thing. Definitely going to need some help on that one. 
  • Right to Keep and Bear Arms- America’s founding fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment with clear intent – no level of government shall regulate either the ownership or possession of firearms. Therefore we strongly oppose all laws that infringe on the right to bear arms. We oppose the monitoring of gun ownership, the taxation and regulation of guns, ammunition, and gun magazines. Welcome felons, and mentally disturbed, and people with restraining orders... welcome to freedom-loving,gun-loving Texas. 
They also believe in adoption for embryos, separate (but presumably equal) polling places for Democrats and Republicans, elimination of just about all taxes, Texas sovereignty (including ignoring federal laws), repealing environmental regulations, and banning any kind of Census activity other than straight counting.

They are for a citizenship mark on a driver's license, but against a national ID card. They are for free speech for clergy (meaning political speech without sacrificing tax breaks), letting juries make decisions based on their personal beliefs (not on evidence presented in court), and voting rights for everyone except felons (who will then presumably vote with their un-infringed weapons).

They support fetal rights, protection of life from fertilization to natural death, Advance Directives and patient's rights, except when the patient doesn't want hydration or nutrition, which cannot be withheld.  (We've seen the impact of  Texas 'extreme right to life' policies recently.)

They support continued funding for the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars missile defense, you recall) not only for us, but specifically for Poland and the Czech Republic.

It goes on and on, some 40 pages worth. Some of it is actually reasonable, but for me, it's hard to stick with it in the face of the rest.

This is what Cuomo was talking about, when he talked about 'extreme conservatives.' Like Cuomo, I believe that this is outside the mainstream thinking of most New Yorkers, the majority of whom favor equal rights, reasonable gun control, and understand that man and dinosaur did not stroll to the prehistoric fast food joint together to order a burger or a nice salad.

That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, for a change in policies, or even a change in leadership for New York.  It just means we don't want to be Texas.