The RNC is pushing a purity test for Republicans. True to form, the modern GOP has enshrined an off-the-cuff remark of St. Ronnie the Intolerant and declared that anyone who doesn't leap over at least 8 of 10 newly-created hurdles is no longer welcome at the elephant trough. You don't have to read past the preamble to confirm that the Republicans are now completely in the grip of the most extreme faction of the Beck-heads.
WHEREAS, Republican faithfulness to its conservative principles and public policies and Republican solidarity in opposition to Obama’s socialist agenda is necessary to preserve the security of our country, our economic and political freedoms, and our way of life;
The whole scorecard of Republicanism is now measured in how strongly a candidate stands against the president. How impressive is it that the long dead host of Death Valley Days is always "President Ronald Reagan" while the sitting president of the United States is simply "Obama"? This is a party not just in opposition to Democrats, but to reality.
The idea of the GOP is that this list of "principles" can serve them as the "Contract with America" did the Newt generation over a decade ago. There's a slight problem with that idea. Even assuming that Newt's baby had something to do with GOP advances back then, the Contract at least contained something to do. The Contract with America contained at least eight pieces of proposed legislation. The new purity test? None.
As with all things GOP these days, there's not a single new idea in this test. Instead, it's a test of saying no. The rules require that would-be Republicans oppose health care reform, oppose stimulus, oppose amnesty for immigrants, oppose equal rights for gays, oppose protecting the environment, oppose unions, oppose diplomatic solutions, and oppose health care reform (again). There's a tip of the hat to the NRA, but not one, not one, actual solution proposed. Apparently, being a Republican is completely a negative test. You don't have to actually do anything, you just have to agree to oppose the right things.
Still, the purity test does provide a convenient check list. You too can be accepted as a Republican if you promise to hate gays, poor people, immigrants, and the environment (which, come to think of it, has been the Republican standard for decades). Out of pure bullet-point envy, I propose that Democrats must also have their own list. Ten litmus tests which every potential Democratic candidate should be able to ace before they ever hope to put (D) after their names. In fact, I'll go so far as to be more pure than the Republicans. If you can't pass every one of these tests, don't bother to sign on.
(1) We support the rights extended to Americans extended under the Constitution. All the rights. For all Americans.
(2) We support thoughtful, pragmatic solutions that protect American lives, American standards, and American pocketbooks. This includes finding solutions that don't require bombing anyone.
(3) We support an America that has diversity in race, thought, background, and religion not out of some hazy idealism, but because it is our nation's greatest strength.
(4) We oppose torture in any form, in any place, at any time, for any reason.
(5) We support American business, and recognize that an unregulated market is an unfair market, an unstable market, and a market doomed to failure.
(6) We support American workers, and know that when workers are allowed to organize they make their jobs, their companies, and their nation stronger.
(7) We believe that the reputation of our nation is valuable and must be zealously guarded against those who place expediency ahead of law.
(8) We believe in spreading democracy and human rights to the rest of the world by vigorously upholding those ideals here at home.
(9) We believe that access to our government is not for sale. Not in the courthouse, not in the White House, and not in the legislature.
(10) We believe that the health of our planet is not a zero-sum game, not a game of "you go first," and not a game.
Not a particularly detailed set of positions, I know. But then it's not supposed to be. Unlike the GOP, we aren't short of ideas, and unlike Newt, we don't have to dream up a batch of legislation with cute names. We already have real legislation out there that meet these goals. Bills like the Employee Free Choice Act, the Clean Water Protection Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Affordable Health Care for America Act and many others.
But then, maybe 10 rules aren't enough. I left out the Democratic 11th commandment (thou shalt stop supporting Joe Lieberman's bigger-than-the-Snoopy-balloon-in-the-Macy's-parade-sized ego), and I'm sure I've left out plenty of others. Maybe ones that you feel are vital. What are your suggestions?