Monday, July 23, 2012

Shun the Current Republican Brand!

In his column in the Sunday Herald, Leonard Pitts, quotes a plank from the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome Based Education which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

“So presumably,” Pitts goes on to say, “if a child is of the ‘fixed belief’ that Jesus was the first president of the US, or that 2+2= apple trees, or that Florida is an island in an ocean on the moon, educators ought not correct that student, lest she change her ‘fixed belief,’ thereby undermining mom and dad. Republican Spokesman Chris Elam says the statement’s ‘inclusion (in the platform) was an oversight.’”

There’s so much wrong with the kind of thinking embodied in, “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills…undermining parental authority,” that I’m nearly speechless…nearly, but not completely. Here are a few of the things that are wrong:
Most parents can’t do the homework, use a computer very well or function in the world students inhabit today, so why is ‘parental authority’ so important? Oh, I get ‘parental authority’ has a place and I’m gad my parents exercised theirs when they did. But to trade off critical thinking skills in favor of ‘parental authority’ is suicide for a democratic society and its economic well being. If all we want is students that obey authority without thinking, our school systems are indeed in great need of reform.

But besides, does it have to be either critical thinking or ‘parental authority’? Can’t it be both/and, both critical thinking and ‘parental authority?’ My parents managed to do that.  What sort of mind and ideology sees it as either/or, as a need to trade off one for the other, and then choose ‘parental authority’ instead of critical thinking? An ayatollah in a madrasah would. A citizen of Nazi Germany would. A totalitarian dictator fearful of his people arising would. Is that who our Republican leaders have become? Is that who the people who keep electing them are? With thinking like this, it seems these people don’t want to just “take the nation back,” they want to take it backwards; back to some imaginary fantasy time when things were better.

I know I recently wrote about the need for both Democrats and Republicans, and as you can see from above, I’m a both/and guy. But each day brings a new revelation of Republican craziness.  The brand is tarnished and getting more tarnished daily. Like any other product or activity it will continue as it is and get even more so until people demand a change or stop buying it. No matter how much you hate Obama, or a disappointed in him, please try and see that the alleged danger he poses, is nothing compared to the danger the current Republican brand poses.

As Pitts’ column highlights, along with so many other news stories, the real danger the current Republican brand poses is not at the presidential level, but in the House of Representatives, the Governor’s Offices and in the state legislatures. The craziness and danger will continue until Republican constituents demand a change.  The current Republican brand must be shunned, no matter what, at all levels.

“Remember when Republicans were grownups?” Pitts asks. Agree with them or not, you never thought of Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, even Richard Nixon as less than serious, substantive adults, susceptible like all serious, substantive adults, to logic and reason.”  Compare them to Michelle Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh. Shun the current Republican brand. This is not business as usual, this is putting out the fire before it burns the house down.

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