When Jack Kennedy was president, he hosted a state dinner for all of the living Nobel Prize winners. His toast to the guests, one of the best ever uttered at such an event, proclaimed, "This is the greatest collection of intellect ever to dine under this roof at one time, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
Just the opposite could be said now of the Republican Party delegates racing to Tampa before "Isaac" blows into town.
When the GOP convention is gaveled to order, America will see the largest collection of anti-knowledge know-nothings to gather under one roof since Pope Urban VIII and his Inquisition minions met to condemn Galilei Galileo for writing that the earth revolved around the sun.
The platform that Republicans will endorse, and the Gekko-Galt - wait, I mean the Romney-Ryan ticket will campaign on, may well be the most regressive in American politics since before the Civil War. It doesn't like uppity women, anything backed by science, Moslems of any sort, immigrants, investigating right wing terrorists and hate groups, students, anyone poor, children, the elderly, people who aren't in perfect health, and working stiffs.
It is as if a new Age of Unreason has consumed a once noble political party. Truly disturbing is that at least 40-percent of Americans who vote in November actually agree with what passes for bold ideas in the party that started with Lincoln and was given a voice by Teddy Roosevelt.
Worst Platform Ever?
On one page after another, the Republican platform is breathtaking not just in denying everything from science to common sense but in its entire dismissal of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Its desire to prohibit any pregnancy terminations for any reason, even to save the life or health of the mother, or because a woman was victimized by rape or incest, doesn't mean the party likes anyone talking about it. The party wants Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin out of the race not because of his comment about "legitimate rape" but because Akin spoke publicly in favor of the party's position To the GOP, the issue isn't that Akin is an idiot with a Neanderthal view of women's rights; it is that he is alienating women voters in Missouri, endangering Republican chances to take back control of the Senate.
In other words, the GOP doesn't want anyone to know what it will do once it gets 51 Senate seats: Overturn the Affordable Care Act, denying health care to nearly 50-million Americans.
The GOP platform also denies science, including well-established facts such as evolution, climate change and – for all anyone knows – gravity, because Republicans do not understand what the word "theory" means in scientific circles. In particular, the Republican Party is in favor of teaching creationism even though it is nonsense. Denying evolution is a throwbackto the Scopes monkey trial. Republican legislators in Kentucky are aghast that to pass the College Boards and SAT tests, the state's students need to know about evolution.
The know-nothings also want to block the Dept. of Homeland Security from investigating right wing hate groups, even though these kooks have spawned more acts of domestic terrorism in the US over the last decade than all of the Moslems on earth.
This fact – which the GOP isn't fond of because "facts" have a liberal bias – doesn't stop the party from worrying about finding a Moslem hiding under every bed in America, just waiting to leap out and impose Sharia law on unsuspecting yokels. The party is now a refuge for politicians indulging in hate speech, from Mitt Romney's dog whistle comments to Michelle Bachmann and Joe Walsh's outright odious bigotry. (LINK www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/joe-walsh-muslims-in-amer_n_1764034.html?utm_hp_ref=chicago)
Tell Your Kids
When the convention takes over prime time television, have your kids watch. They should know what happened if Republicans are elected this fall – from Romney on down the ticket – and understand why the country they inherit once they're adults is in such rough shape.
People will be denied health care. The elderly will be seen begging on the streets because Medicare was eliminated and Social Security was handed over to Wall St. Climate change will be raging in full tilt boogey with everything from massive storms and major coastal erosion to the decline of agriculture and the rise of diseases such as West Nile virus. The air will be a mess because of America's unchecked carbon emissions and the water undrinkable as a result of wholesale fracking. Government takeover by moneyed and corporate interests – often the same thing – means that tomorrow's adults have rights and liberty in name only.
Hopefully, enough people who watch the GOP convention will see it as, to use Churchill's phrase, America's gathering storm.
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My next book is about my experience being homeless. When published, I will donate a percentage of royalties to homeless organizations.