Politics, naughty and nice | OPINION

My wife is collecting political flyers leading up to the general election. About the time their authors run out of money or half-truths to throw at each other we’ll see if we can fit the whole lot into our blue Waste Management recycling bin.

Then there are the phone polls. “Mister Graff?”

“No, that’s Graef.”

“Oh, excuse me. I’d like to take only two minutes of your time to ask a few important questions.”

“Is this a political poll?”

“Yes sir.”

“Goodbye.” Interesting that politicians exempted this stuff from no-call legislation.

There should be a thermometer I could insert into our collection of political mail to measure the heat of its rhetoric. Can it be that they’re telling the truth, that their opposite numbers are all unprincipled do-nothings? Speaking of heat, some good might come of this if power generating plants were fueled with political mailers and litter-on-a-stick roadside signs.

The Democratic Party I grew up with stood for fairness, equal opportunity and a level playing field. If it had a fault, it would be too much attention on society’s wants, rather than needs. Back then, parents put education funds for kids above down-payments on motor homes. They’d have thought it extravagant to visit a doctor for minor complaints. And by the way, Democrats of that day strongly supported business legislation to assure financing for social programs.

The Republican Party of my youth focused on ideas, energy and resources as necessary for empowering this great nation. And by the way, Republicans fostered programs that would put spending money in the pockets of middle and low income shoppers and provide safety-nets should some of those middle or low income folks suffer reverses.

And by the way, today’s GOP has tossed many of those good intentions — by the way. Republican back-room mantras tout success for the successful, strength for the strong, and depletion of natural resources for short-term profits. If business is good, then big business is better and monopolistic mega-business is best. They throw hissy-fits when things like minimum wage laws, EPA watchdogs or financial regulations get in the way.

That’s not to say Republicanism is all bad. I was a Republican until something as weird as a B-movie alien takeover caused me to defect. The party’s heart was overrun by nut-case radicals who remain willfully blind to how their unfettered excesses gut America’s domestic and global hopes. If this seems a cheap shot, read on to see how far the New GOP’s predators wander from their party’s responsible roots.

The “aliens” are in cahoots with two viral corruptions of congressional ethics: (1) Skewed votes as Big Money picks up the tab for campaigning and (2) lobbyists doling out cushy retirement jobs to ex-office-holders. Both need fixing. It is bad enough that Congress lacks the will to fix them. It is damning when Congress demonstrates a will to perpetuate them.

What follows are excerpts from the 1956 Republican platform. Each would draw boos and hisses at this year’s Republican Convention.

We shall ever build anew, that our children and their children, without distinction because of race, creed or color, may know the blessings of our free land.

We believe that basic to governmental integrity are unimpeachable ethical standards and irreproachable personal conduct by all people in government. We shall continue our insistence on honesty as an indispensable requirement of public service. We shall continue to root out corruption whenever and wherever it appears.

We are proud of and shall continue our far reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs: expansion of social security, broadened coverage in unemployment insurance, improved housing and remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of health protection for all our people.

We hold that the major world issue today is whether government shall be the servant or the master of men. We hold that the Bill of Rights is the sacred foundation of personal liberty. That men are created equal needs no affirmation, but they must have equality of opportunity and protection of their civil rights under the law.

Further reductions in taxes with particular consideration for low and middle income families.

The Republican Party has as a primary concern for the continued advancement of the well-being of the individual. This can be attained only in an economy that, as today, is sound, free and creative, ever building new wealth and new jobs for all the people.

Legislation to enable closer federal scrutiny of mergers which have a significant or potential monopolistic connotation.

Procedural changes in the anti-trust laws to facilitate their enforcement.

Continuance of the vigorous SEC policies which are providing maximum protection to the investor and maximum opportunity for the financing of small business without costly red tape.

Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers.

When Republicans sound like Democrats (or visa versa), that sounds pretty good to me.

Comments may be addressed to robertgraef@comcast.net.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.