Do Republicans want to party like it’s 1899?

Ethan: That was quite a party platform you Republicans passed last week. Celebrated not giving 70,000 people health care, taking health care from another 44,000 people, going against the wishes of Maine people by calling for the exclusion of gays from marrying, trickle-down economics, and taking away a woman’s right to control her own body. I think they wrote this thing back when your grandfather was in the Legislature.

Phil: Boy, you have too much time on your hands if you are reading the Republican Party platform.

Ethan: My wife says the same thing.

Phil: Let me offer context and perspective before you launch into political orbit. First of all, Republicans defeated Democrats’ incessant efforts to add 70,000 people to a broken welfare system that would have cost the taxpayers millions we don’t have. You and I have debated this ad nauseam, but it is definitely one of our courageous achievements this past session, especially knowing full well that Democrats will use this against us in the campaigns ahead.

Ethan: It is always telling when your proudest achievement is not doing something, as opposed to moving Maine forward.

Phil: Sometimes defense is the best offense.

Ethan: Are you referring to the two Super Bowls where my Giants beat your Patriots?

Phil: Ouch, that was mean spirited. Besides, it wasn’t defense that won those games; it was two lucky catches. But I digress. In terms of taking health care away from 40,000, I assume you are referring to the repeal of Obamacare?

Ethan: Indeed.

Phil: Republicans want everyone who wants health insurance to be able to obtain it. We object to a government-run system where its creators decided that it had to be passed, so we could find out what was in it. The president has singlehandedly changed the law several times! And we still don’t know how it will work, let alone where the savings will come from and when.

Ethan: If you still don’t know how it will work, just ask the young people who are now on their parents’ plan. Or ask those who had pre-existing conditions who couldn’t get coverage before. Or ask the parents who will no longer be bankrupt because of lifetime caps that would have made them homeless in trying to keep a child with leukemia alive. But most importantly, ask the 16 million nationally and 44,000 in Maine who now have health care who would lose it if your party repealed Obamacare as your platform demands.

Phil: It’s also true that hospitals do not pay taxes in recognition of those isolated situations you cite where some people need charity care. You conveniently fail to acknowledge the fact that as many people have seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket, while the president assured us all we could keep our doctor, and our premiums would decrease!

Ethan: OK, what do say you about the anti-choice, anti-gay marriage positions your party took? These aren’t your positions, nor are they the positions of a majority of Mainers. How do you plan to win anything statewide with a message like this?

Phil: Unlike your party, Republicans’ “big tent” philosophy says if you are pro-life or support traditional marriage you are welcomed into the party. There are many like me who see these issues differently, yet that doesn’t mean other points of view aren’t welcomed.

Ethan: Sorry, Phil, but that platform does not say both sides are welcome. It says that marriage should be between a man and a woman and that anti-choice is the position of the Republican Party. Had they remained silent on those issues, or created any caveat for diversity, I could buy into your philosophy, but those are big issues stated clearly.

Phil: Sorry, Ethan, when your party says it’s fine to abort a fetus — no judgments — yet declares that if you break an eagle egg you could be fined and even imprisoned, both parties have room for “big tent” moderation.

Ethan: So, beyond defense, did your platform have any positive, inspirational planks in it?

Phil: Sure. Education, individual liberty, lower taxes, fewer regulations, free markets and a stand for a less intrusive government.

Ethan: So the platform that requires people to carry photo ID to the polls is less intrusive government?

Phil: You need one to get on a plane, and you need one to get into a venue where the president is appearing. Why not secure the security of the right to vote with a voter ID card, as they do in Mexico, by the way?

Ethan: Now you want American elections to emulate Latin America? The reason the examples you give are different is because getting on an airplane is not core to our democracy, nor is it constitutionally protected. You Republicans proclaim less government, all the while advocating more government to tell people how to live their private lives.

Phil: I hear you. It’s easy to play “gotcha” with a wide-ranging platform by twisting separate priorities together. So how is the Democratic platform coming together?

Ethan: You’ll know in three weeks.

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