Conventions Provide a Stark Difference on A Better Future


"So a Mormon, a Catholic and Atlas walk into a bar…..
"The beginning of a bad joke? No it's the beginning of the Republican National Convention. But if you're a woman, poor, a person of color or gay, YES it is the beginning of a bad joke.
Now that the Olympics are over and vacations are winding down, it's time to get focused on November and nothing will get folks focused in, on what's at stake more than the upcoming conventions.
The intention of past conventions was to educate attendees about the party's platform and to nominate a candidate, but this year's Republican National Convention is more like an infomercial rolling out a GOP agenda that has been building steam, culminating with a coronation of the party's standard bearers.
Mitt Romney's nomination has been a foregone conclusion for several months after the Mormon business man basically out lasted a field of candidates that fell off, dropped out or self-destructed. The only suspense was the selection of the vice-presidential running mate which we now know is Tea Party poster child Paul Ryan.
Although he's not talking about it that much these days, Ryan has in the past credited atheist philosopher Ayn Rand for inspiring his interest in public service and entry into the political arena, even giving copies of her "Atlas Shrugged" as Christmas gifts. More recently the focus has been on his budget plan, anti-abortion stance, "faithful" Catholicism, dedication to the P90X workout plan and of course his 8 percent body fat.
At the RNC in Tampa, Mitt and Paul plan to energize the base and convert the undecided that "A better future" is possible if given the reins of leadership.
They're banking that any voters still sitting on the fence will be moved by the glitz, glamour and overlook the basic contradictions of their ideology with today's diverse America.
Who'd have thought that the party which in recent years has been most closely identified with the traditional values of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) community would have as its standard bearers a Mormon and a Catholic, but the times my friends they are a changing.
The well-funded call for traditional, conservative "American" values has become the tie that binds together supporters of this candidacy.
Despite committee chairman Priebus's disclaimer that, "This is the platform of the Republican Party. It's not the platform of Mitt Romney," the party platform provides a window to the soul of the party Romney/Ryan hope to lead into power.
This is the cornerstone of the beliefs held dear by party faithful so how can we ignore its influence on this "Better Future" on display in Tampa?
Much has been said about Todd Akins comments on rape – legitimate or forcible – as it relates to abortion. This, rightly, set off a firestorm of condemnation among not only women, but even Republicans from Mitt Romney down, with a message that's clear "RAPE is Rape." But there was less substantive discussion of the reality that, although Akin's remarks were outrageous, they were not outside the realm of the far right views on abortion and women's reproductive rights.
In 2011, Rep. Akin co-sponsored a bill which was supported by Paul Ryan that would have banned federal funding for abortions except in cases of so-called forcible rape. It was later reintroduced with the word "forcible" removed from the bill's language.
Besides the "Forcible Rape" legislation, Ryan and Akins also cosponsored a federal personhood bill, the "Sanctity of Human Life Act of 2009," which declares that a fertilized egg is entitled to the exact same legal rights as a human being. One interpretation of this act would not simply ban abortion; it would turn many forms of birth control into the legal equivalent of a murder weapon.
While staunchly supporting the rights of the unborn, the party platform stands in its denial of rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Americans. Which begs the question how do you staunchly support the rights of a child to be born, even if its conception is the result of rape, yet strip the same child of its rights if it is born gay?
One might also wonder since these same individuals dare to define the legitimacy of rape while delegitimizing the rights of LGBT Americans, would rapists get a free pass if the rape was part of "conversion" attempt against a gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer American?
While this year's Democratic Party Platform is the most pro-LGBT in history, the Republican Party Platform seems to want to pull the country backwards when it comes to LGBT equality. It includes language that implies that for the GOP, LGBT people are not among the Americans who deserve "dignity and respect."
"A Better Future," – only for some. While talking about creating jobs, rebuilding the economy and supporting American families, the Republican Party Platform says to LGBT Americans – but not for you.
The Republican Party platform opposes marriage equality and supports a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the "union of one man and one woman" referring to recent court decisions as "more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years….has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values…"
This year the two major parties' political platforms tell a tale of stark differences on equality.
For women, Republicans are not backing off their assault on women's equality and well-being. The attack goes well beyond abortion, into birth control, access to health care, equal pay and domestic violence.
For Immigrants, particularly within the Latino community, the news from Tampa does not bode well. Although candidate Romney has endorsed removing the cap on visas for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, an idea championed by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez as part of a broader comprehensive immigration reform bill, no Republican co-sponsored the proposal and they have "failed to endorse" the idea of allowing more family visas.
Minorities, seniors and the poor are battling attempts to take away their right to vote in several states.
The Republican attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court arguing that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, promoting voter suppression activities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and many other states.
The GOP Plan for a better economic future would reportedly tax the poor and middle class for the benefit of wealthiest .03 percent. Senate and House GOP Leaders' Tax Proposals would provide windfalls for heirs of the largest estates, but would let "child tax and earned income tax credits for 13 million working families expire."
This might not be the platform of Mitt Romney, but it's the platform of the Republican Party and that's the party that wants us to turn over control of not only the White House but the Senate and Congress, to their leadership in November.
The two major parties' political platforms tell a tale of stark differences on equality. And we better pay attention or for the millions of women, poor, elderly, immigrant, Black/Brown/Other and LGBT Americans the joke might end, "So a Mormon, a Catholic and Atlas walk into a bar. They looked at the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free and Atlas just shrugged.


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