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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > The Perfect Political Trap

The horrific Republicans had another two weeks of victories over the hapless Democrats. After seven Republican and seven Democratic Senators forged the compromise that averted a showdown against the filibuster, the Republicans moved the confirmation of the worst nominees for the federal circuit courts of appeals which the Democrats had vigorously opposed before they were gulled. Or frisked by Frist, the Senate Republican leader.

Then came the Howard Dean dustup over his comments saying that many Republicans leaders “have never made an honest living in their lives,” and that Republicans are “pretty much a white Christian party.” The “media circus”, as Dean called it, erupted further when Senator Joe Biden, ex-Senator John Edwards, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sharply distanced themselves from their Party Chairman. Republicans chortled and chuckled over their opponents’ imbroglio.

Meanwhile, down in Oklahoma, the state Republican Party was unveiling its 2005 platform. The editor of the Oklahoma Observer, Frosty Troy, described the document as “written for the greedy, not the needy; for special interests, not the people’s interest.”

Similar to the 2002 Texas Republican Party platform, the latest Oklahoma version would make the Bush Republicans blush and run. That is, if the hapless Democrats would make an issue out of what the Republican Parties in several southern and mountain states stand for that the Washington Republicans cannot accept but also cannot openly reject.

A perfect political trap for the Republicans awaits the clueless Democrats if they had half of Karl Rove’s brain and instinct for the jugular. Only this trap would be about substance and the livelihoods of the American people, not a Swift Boat maneuver.

Devolving under the national media’s radar is a retrograde Republican political ideology, mixed with some positive policies, that can cause relentless and diverse embarrassment between the corporate Republicans dominating the nation’s capitol and the self-described conservative, red-state Republicans who make Bush-type election victories possible.

Take the Oklahoma platform — typical of several other state Republican Parties. It wants to privatize social security, eliminate the minimum wage, the income tax, all toll roads, institute a national sales tax, get rid of the U.S. Department of Education, and repeal much corporate regulation that protects consumers, workers and the environment.

The Oklahoma Republican Party wants to get the U.S. out of the UN, eliminate funding for PBS and National Public Radio, and repeal the state tax on business inventory. They want to post the Ten Commandments in all public schools, oppose monetary foreign aid, only credits with which to buy U.S. goods.

On the other hand, the Oklahoma Party wants to abolish many forms of corporate welfare such as tax holidays to attract industry and other subsidies and giveways so dear to the hearts and pockets of corporate Republicans. The state Party is opposed to Bush’s Leave No Child Behind’s budgets, testing, national teacher and student standards.

Similar to their Texas counterparts, they want the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization, an end to the Office of Surgeon General, no limits on campaign contributions and no national health insurance. Lots of treaties they do not like, including the ones limiting nuclear proliferation and environmental devastation. They cannot stand the EPA, or the National Endowment for the Arts and the Endangered Species Act.

The Republican Sooners do not offer ways to replace much of the revenue most Americans believe supply necessities, such as maintaining highways or paying off turnpike bondholders.

In October 2003, I wrote President George W. Bush (see a letter outlining the 2002 Texas Republican Party Platform — his own launching political organization. I asked where he stood on many positions of his state Party that were directly opposed to his own Administration’s policies and programs. Would he, for example, stop funding the International Monetary Fund, oppose all unfunded mandates by the federal government and repeal NAFTA?

He never replied. So I sent a copy of the letter to the Democratic National Committee and spoke to a high level official there. No follow up by the Democrats. On the contrary, a top Texas Democratic Party official provided an irritated response to a reporter for my bringing up the subject of Republican extremisms.

Call one for the Republicans. They are neither squeamish about their off-the-wall declarations nor worried about their internal contradictions from the state to the national level. And they intimidate the Democrats so much that the national Democratic Party Platforms refuse to adopt any planks to reduce poverty, crack down on corporate crime and corporate subsidies, make the income tax less loopholed, stand for a living wage, and specifically push for environmentally efficient motor vehicles and other technologies — to list a few abdications.

The Democrats fear the Republicans, while the Republicans mock the gutless Democrats.

Meanwhile the Democrats, largely on the defense against the most craven Republicans in a century, are busy trying to cool down the hot seat beneath Howard Dean.