A friend of mine told a story about a friend of theirs who bought his wife a spatula for her birthday. As the joke went, we weren’t exactly sure which was worse, actually buying the spatula or thinking it was a good idea to buy the spatula. Similarly, the Republican party in Texas recently held their convention and came through with some interesting platform ideas. The most interesting was an endorsement of what we might call “conversion therapy” for homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. A letter writer to the Chronicle offered this on Saturday:
“Regarding “GOP ‘gay therapy’ plank draws criticism” (Page A1, Wednesday), as a delegate to the Texas GOP convention I saw the reparative therapy plank as something the Democrats would embrace – offering a choice to those who wanted one. It’s like that “woman’s right to choose” plank the Democrats have. But ours does not promote the pre-emption of human life.”
Much like the spatula story, I’m not sure what is worse, having an opinion that reparative therapy is somehow a good thing in this day and age or honestly coming out and saying that they actually thought progressives would be on board. No, I’m sure the latter is worse. See, this isn’t about reparative therapy anymore. It’s not about immigration reform. It’s not about gun control. It’s not about climate change. It’s not about raising the minimum wage. It’s not about education reform. It’s not about any single issue you can think of. This is about insanity pure and simple.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” However, I would call that the definition of stupidity or stubbornness. Insanity has a clinical definition that mental health care professionals use. In terms of the lay person I would say that it occurs when someone no longer has a firm grip on reality. In politics, there are any number of opinions that can be held on any particular issue. Holding opinions outside the mainstream doesn’t bother me or concern me particularly. What concerns me is when you have a deluded belief that your opinions are the mainstream when they clearly are not. Believe in raparative therapy if you wish, but don’t make any mistake about the fact that your opinion is not going to be shared by even a considerable minority of the population.
If I am liable to believe that a spatula, vacuum cleaner, or dish washer is a romantic gift for my wife, what other wonderful surprises am I going to come up with? Similarly, if I think raparative therapy, mandatory sonograms, or a border fence with former East German wall guards is reasonable then how are reasonable folks supposed to bargain with you on other issues? The answer is of course that you can’t and that is the scary thing. After all, progressives may not agree on much and we might have a fervent disagreement on nothing more than the order of which issues should come first. Unfortunately, that debate is an academic one because none of the issues are destined to see the light of day.
The John Boehner House of Representatives passed fewer bills than any House since the Civil War. Mind you, we aren’t even talking about bills that had to clear both houses and be signed by the president. We are talking about bills passed only by the House. So, don’t blame divided government on this one. At least, don’t blame a Democratic Senate and Democratic president. Blame a political party that seems to be at war with itself. Blame a political party that seems to be at war with reality. Those struggling to come to grips with the platform passed by the Texas GOP convention have called it anti-woman, anti-immigrant, or anti-poor. It’s a struggle because the platform is all of those things and more. In fact, you might as well call it anti-humanity.
When Majority Leader Cantor was defeated in his Virginia primary this last week, it was said that guests at a party hosted by Nancy Pelosi cheered. That’s certainly understandable, but no matter how much I may hate my neighbor, I can’t cheer too loudly when his house is on fire. Fires tend to spread and that fire may find itself on my roof before you know it. After all, the beauty of the American system of government is that there have always been cooks on both sides of the coin that have held opinions most of us would call ridiculous. Some of us may even share in an occasional wacky opinion here and there. The key is in realizing we exist outside the mainstream on a particular issue and coming to meet in the middle for a common sense solution. Today’s ultra conservatives have left the reservation. They are under the mistaken belief that their views are reasonable. Be careful before you open that next gift, it may be a can opener.