The Fanatical GOP

We’re witnessing the capture by fanatics of what was once a great and important American political party.

The Republican Party platform committee now includes a provision calling for a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, without an exception for rape or incest. This is basically Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s position. (At least the GOP platform doesn’t assert that women’s bodies automatically reject “legitimate” rapists’ sperm.)

Paul Ryan, Romney’s selection for vice president, has co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion measures while in the House of Representatives, including several containing no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

But the GOP’s fanaticism goes far beyond the its growing absolutism about abortion.

Ryan’s proposed budget, approved by almost all House Republicans, provides ample evidence to senior citizens (and anyone within range of becoming one) that the GOP aims to eliminate Medicare as we know it and shift health costs directly on to the elderly.

That budget also harms the poor and rewards the rich but does little or nothing to reduce the federal budget deficit. Over 60 percent of its spending cuts come out of programs for lower-income Americans. Meanwhile, its tax cuts for the rich reduce revenues by $4.6 trillion over the decade while saving the typical millionaire hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

At the same time, the GOP remains unwaivering in its support of state laws allowing or encouraging the profiling of Latinos. And unrelenting in its war against gay rights.

It’s not just women, seniors, budget hawks, the poor, Latinos, and gays who are catching on to the Republicans’ fanaticism. Americans who don’t fall into one of these categories are becoming alarmed, too — as they should.

Although the GOP’s extremism may bode well for Democrats this coming Election Day, it bodes ill for America. The capture of one of our great parties by fanatics is nothing to celebrate. A democracy needs at least two sane political parties.

About Robert Reich 547 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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