I’ve been chewing over these two posts from Kevin Drum about the Texas Republican Party platform. First off, I agree with him: the platform as a whole is pretty damned radical. I would certainly be interested in hearing President Bush, who presumably has signed a similar document, talk about whether or not he supports all those positions. And much of the platform is way the hell out of the mainstream.
However, it’s wrong to say that the platform has no place in American politics. For example, there is absolutely no reason to recoil from the sight of a politician who wants to return to the gold standard. It might not be a bright thing to do, but it hardly signifies the destruction of the republic. Most if not all of the economic planks fall into that bucket. Dumb ideas? Maybe. Radical? Sure. Shouldn’t be discussed in polite company? Uh…
Now, when you get to creationism being taught in public schools and eliminating separation of church and state, there I’m more or less in agreement. But even the anti-abortion plank isn’t something you can just sweep away with a magisterial comment or two. Democrats should realize that whether or not they like that position, it’s a position which is fully in the mainstream. Sure, it’s disturbing that the Texas wing of the Republican Party has so much influence, because their platform as a whole really is scary. However, when you point at it and say “look, radical ideas!” you just alienate a pretty big section of America.
And it’s healthy to be able to discuss ideas. Just about any idea. You can’t gain consensus by squashing dissent, even wacky radical right wing dissent. The country’s better off for having dissenting voices, even those we really don’t like.