Tuesday, June 27, 2006

GOP or BPP?

I have a new nickname for the Republican Party: the Bad Penny Party (note: this has nothing to do with a certain Tribune columnist who wants to eliminate copper from our pockets). The Republicans deserve this new moniker because they keep resurrecting poor ideas, bringing them back to Capitol Hill or the White House just when most of us thought we had finally gotten rid of them.
  • Anti-flag burning constitutional amendment -- When was the last time, aside from stock news footage, that you even saw an American flag on fire? This is just faux-patriotic pandering to the ignorant masses out there who think "there oughta be a law" despite the Supreme Court's overturning of such laws on constitutional grounds. We don't need a law. Your dad/mom/brother/sister/son/daughter didn't die for a symbolic piece of fabric -- he/she died for the country it represents. Alas, the freedoms held dear by our Founding Fathers allow that fabric to be desecrated. But passing an amendment to protect the fabric would only desecrate the country it represents by restricting those freedoms (incidentally, the anti-penny columnist agrees).
  • Estate tax elimination -- The 99% of us who make less (much, much less) than the wealthiest Americans should be in favor of a progressive tax structure: essentially, let those who have the most pay the most. I see no problem with collecting a little extra from those who have fared so well in our capitalist system. The tax doesn't kick in until someone leaves behind more money than most of us will ever have, and even then estate planning reduces the government's share considerably. Family farms are rarely if ever affected, and only family businesses without good planning/structure get shut down because of it. The only reason there is any support for this is the great American myth -- a belief that if we work hard, someday we will be rich, and the laws benefiting the wealthy will benefit us. But those odds are pretty slim, and even if you were that rich, would you miss any of your money after you died? One would think the Bad Pennies, with their "ownership society" based on personal responsibility, would realize that this is just a tax on money the beneficiaries didn't earn in the first place.
  • Gay marriage constitutional amendment -- I thought this one would disappear after the 2004 election. Of course, I also thought someone would notice that Bush flip-flopped on the issue (in 2000 he said it was up to the states, then in 2004 he decided federal involvement was necessary), but virtually no one called him on it. Don't be surprised if this one comes up yet again before November. After all, it is the only sop the Bad Pennies have to offer their religious supporters.
I know there are Democrats in Congress who support some of these misguided measures, too. But the Democratic Party doesn't control anything in Washington these days -- the Bad Penny Party sets the agenda. And like a bad penny, their ideas keep turning up over and over.

UPDATE 06/28/2006 - Somehow I missed this before -- the Bad Penny Party actually has a name for all of their recycled ideas: "American Values Agenda." Ugh.

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