Every time I listen to Republican politicans, I hear them talking about the "core values" of the GOP. What exactly are these "core values" the Republican Party keeps talking about? Perhaps the best way to tell what Republicans really believe is to watch what Republican politicians do. The core contention of Irregular Times' section of special political coverage entitled, "The Real GOP", is that Republican Party operatives routinely engage in policy actions that most Americans regardless of party affiliation would consider bizarre in their extremism. The core values of the Republican Party in action don't match the core values of everyday Republicans, not to mention the American public in general.
Consider the following statement by Rod Paige, George W. Bush's Secretary of Education:
(quoted in the Washington Post on April 9, 2003)
"I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith... The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system. In a religious environment, the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."
I need some help understanding this statement. Is Bush's Secretary of the Department of Education advocating that American public schools be made into Christian schools, where children are taught to have the "strong faith" of Christianity?
Could it be, on the other hand, that this Republican Education Secretary is advising Americans to abandon the public school system and enroll their children in Christian private schools instead, as he says he would do himself?
Does the Bush Administration believe it to be appropriate for the official who has authority over the nation's public schools to endorse their abandonment or their transformation into government-supported institutions for religious indoctrination?
Is Secretary Paige making such proposals an official part of George W. Bush's plans for "education reform"?
Pay attention, dear reader. If Rod Paige is still in office by the end of this year, if these statements are given vocal support by Ari Fleischer (George W. Bush's spokesperson) or are given tacit approval through a lack of censure, the clear answer to all these questions is you betcha.
Come 2004, think about the public schools in your home town and vote accordingly.
The basic fact is that most Americans, whether they're Christian or not, respect the ideal that the government ought to keep its nose out of telling American families what kind of beliefs they should have about religion. Secretary Paige's words show that he does not share this kind of fundamental respect for religious diversity.
Are these kind of extremist statements truly what you want America to stand for? Can a decent society afford to keep these sorts of people in power?
If your answer is "no" and you are a Republican party member, then it may be time for you to question the wisdom of the party that has clearly left your mainstream values behind.
If your answer is "no" and you are not a Republican, consider volunteering your time and efforts to keep the extremist Republican Party agenda from being implemented. While we still have a political system of representative democracy, the best way to do that is to donate your time, money and vote to the cause of stemming the Republican tide.
In the meantime, let's keep a watch not just on what the Republicans say, but also on what they do. Let's keep our eyes on the Real GOP.
Don't let us do all the talking. Talk back!
We're eager for your contribution. Get your thoughts down, organize them coherently into an irregular essay, then submit it to us for publication!