Let's Ban Thinking!
Begala, Paul, Newsweek
Byline: Paul Begala
What do Republicans really want? Read the fine print.
All of us have our own private dreams of nirvana. My utopia involves a Willie Nelson concert with free beer and plentiful bathrooms. You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. All across America, political activists in both parties are assembling their own fantasylands; they draw the contours of their earthly paradise in their party platforms.
I have read several state-party platforms so you won't have to. They offer a road map to heaven or hell, depending on your party preference.
I started in my beloved Texas--the most Republican big state in America, it is South Carolina on steroids. Every single statewide elected official is a Republican. Of the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives, 101 are Republicans--and they're hunting the other 49 down with dogs.
Texas Republicans hate the heavy hand of government. And so they oppose mandatory preschool and kindergarten, mandatory immunizations, mandatory, well, mandatory mandates. It's one thing to be antigovernment. It's another to be pro-stupid. Yet the Texas GOP actually opposes thinking. Seriously, their platform proudly declares: "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical-thinking skills, and similar programs." As the Texas populist Jim Hightower likes to say, if ignorance is bliss, these are the happiest people on earth.
Of course, my Republican family and friends back home will say they just flat don't want gubmint gettin' all in your grill. Unless, of course, you're gay. Or a woman seeking to choose to have an abortion. Then the government will not only be in your grill, it will be controlling your carburetor. For those keeping score at home, mandating a polio vaccine: tyranny. Mandating invasive ultrasound: freedom.
Predictably, Texas Republicans want a land without Social Security, without the United Nations, and without President Obama. But the 23-page platform has some truly random gems, like opposing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was negotiated and adopted under the presidencies of those dangerous radicals, Reagan and Bush. They oppose implanting a radio chip in your body. (Radio chips bad; tortilla chips good.)
On the economy, the Texans proudly quote at great length from the GOP's national platform--from 1932. …