It is true that through the looking glass of the Australian media, I find a different portrayal of the US. The view from here is less nuanced. If I relied wholly on Australian depictions of the US, and forgot my memories of living there and ceased reading American media, I would start to think that the USA was a very monolithic place, with most people behind the ruling Republican party. I would forget that almost half of the entire population is horrified at what George W. Bush is doing to their country and the world.
Sometimes I think that the Australian media would rather pander to these stereotypes of the US, rather challenge them, which would get too complicated, nuanced and boring.
On the other hand, in Australia we are also sheltered from some of the ugliness of the American Right. This is why Texas Republican Party Platform is so important. The Texas GOP currently has great influence on the national Republican leadership and on other states.
The have a very slick website and their party platform is posted there for all to see. I recommend skipping the short summary, which seems somewhat sanitized for the sensibilities of non-believers. Open up the pdf document. It's 24 pages and every one of those pages will shock anyone who cares about the future of democracy in the USA and the world. It is also proof that GOP "compassionate conversativism" is nothing more than a good slogan and sound-bite.
First, a few welcome surprises:
- The Party urges "review and revision of those portions of the USA Patriot Act, and related executive and military orders and directives that erode constitutional rights and essential liberties of citizens." (p. 2)
- The Party supports the "prohibition of internet voting and any touch screen voting or other electronic voting which lacks a paper trail" (p. 6)
But most of the platform rejects such moderation (please note, all the italics are my emphasis):
- "The Party strongly opposes all efforts to make the District of Columbia a state in the United States of America." (p. 3)
- "We oppose conservation easements on our natural resources administered by organizations unaccountable to taxpayers and voters. For example, the efforts of the Caddo Lake Institute to act as a surrogate for the UN in gaining control of water rights of Caddo Lake." (p. 4)
- "We oppose passage of any international treaty that overrides United States sovereignty, including the Kyoto Agreement and the Biodiversity Treaty." (p. 4)
- "We oppose the Endangered Species Act."
- "The Party calls on the Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges.
1. Impeachment - The Party calls on the Congress to exercise their authority to impeach and remove federal judges who abuse their constitutional authority or are no longer acting on good behavior.
2. Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court – Congress should be urged to exercise its authority under Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the United States Constitution, and should withhold appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in such cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.
3. Refusal to Enforce –The Executive Branch is obligated to defend the Constitution by refusing to enforce judicial decisions that transgress the enumerated powers of the Article III Court. Congress should refuse allocating funding for the enforcement of any such unconstitutional decisions." (p. 5)
- "The Party understands that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our basic freedoms and the cornerstone of our Western legal tradition. We therefore oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols." (p. 7)
- "The Republican Party of Texas affirms that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history. Our nation was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. The Party affirms freedom of religion, and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives." (p. 8)
- "The Party believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free from persecution, intimidation, and violence. While recognizing one’s freedom from religion, this recognition should not limit others’ free expression of their religious beliefs. Our Party pledges to exert its influence to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State." (p. 8)
- "... marriage in the United States shall consist and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married." (p. 10)
- "The Party supports legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple." (p. 10)
- "We call upon the Texas Legislature to rescind no–fault divorce laws." (p. 10)
- "The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values." (p. 10)
- "The Party opposes the legalization of sodomy. The Party demands Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy."
- "We support the elimination of public funding for organizations that advocate or support abortion. We urge the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We affirm our support for the appointment and election of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life." (p. 11)
- "We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would transfer jurisdiction over parental rights and responsibilities to international bureaucracies." (p. 12)
- "The Party supports raising the age of consent for consensual sex for all children to 18 years of age." (p. 13)
- "The Party supports amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act." (p. 14)
- "build strong and lasting relationships, we support the requirement that schools teaching sex education must teach directive abstinence until heterosexual marriage with an uninfected person as the only safe and healthy means of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies among unwed students. We believe programs should teach the physical and emotional risks of abortion specified in State law and rules. We oppose programs that advocate or legitimize pre-marital sexual activity, advocate condoms and birth control use by unmarried minors, advocate abortions, and condone homosexual, bisexual, and transgender acts and/or lifestyles, and elevate minors’ rights to make sexual and health care decisions equivalent to their parents. Sex education classes, if conducted, should be separated by sex." (pp. 15-16)
- "The Party supports the objective teaching and equal treatment of scientific strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories, including Intelligent Design – as Texas law now requires but has yet to enforce. The Party believes theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught only as theories not fact; that social studies and other curriculum should not be based on any one theory." (p. 17)
- "The Party believes that students should be taught flag etiquette and should be led in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Texas pledge, the national anthem and patriotic songs on a daily basis to ensure that the loyal and patriotic spirit of Texas’ and of America’s heritage is preserved and passed on to our children." (p. 17)
- "We further urge that the personal income tax, inheritance (death) tax, gift tax, capital gains, corporate income tax, and payroll tax be eliminated. We recommend the implementation of a national retail sales tax, with the provision that a two-thirds majority of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate is required to raise the rate." (p. 17)
- "The Party calls on our Texas legislators to resist any efforts to make Workers’ Compensation mandatory for all Texas employers." (p. 18)
- "The Party believes the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed and that wages should be determined by the free market conditions prevalent in each individual market." (p. 18)
- "We also call for the de–funding and abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting System." (p. 19)
- "In World War I, America had a strong grassroots civil defense system comprised of and administered by volunteers from each county’s citizenry. The Party supports the restoration of our civil defense system." (p. 20)
- We support "marking of all state driver’s licenses issued to non-citizens as “Non-Citizens”, to avoid voter fraud." (p. 21)
- "We urge the repeal of any international trade agreements that do not promote free trade, withdrawal from membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and cessation of further negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement." (p. 23)
- "The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations." (p. 24)
- We oppose "placement of the UN flag and emblem on public property or in government facilities; payment of any debt allegedly owed to the UN" (p. 24)
- To make things crystal clear, "The Party urges Congress to evict the United Nations from the United States and eliminate any further participation." (p. 24)
First of all, this is not a joke. In the same way that the American Left is less visible in Australia, so can the Right. What's even more scary is that this is just the leading edge of the mainstream Right in the US. The people who wrote this are the sane ones, and probably had to do a lot of hard negotiation with the real crazies to finish this platform.
That's the tragedy of the US. The existence and success of its strong hard Right has dragged everyone else to the right - including the entire Republican party and a lot of Democracts. The result is that the American political centre is now way to the right of almost all other western democracies.