GOP Suffers from Feud Poisoning
The only thing that belongs under a "big tent" is a circus. And that's apparently what Republican leaders are aiming for. Unfortunately for conservatives, the GOP's latest sideshow comes at the expense of the party's greatest opportunity: capitalizing on America's disgust for ObamaCare. While Democrats try to change the subject from their epic failure, Republican leaders seem intent on helping them out by splitting the party over controversial candidates. The timing couldn't be worse for an internal spat, as polling shows the public moving conservatives' way on a host of issues. Making matters worse, it's a debate the party doesn't need to have.
The tension started earlier this year, when House leadership started throwing its weight -- and significant money -- behind two activist homosexual candidates. Understandably, that bothered conservatives like Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who refused to give his party a pass. "GOP leaders can do whatever they want to do" in donating to gay Republicans, he said, but they shouldn't force other members to contribute through the funding arms like the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
While Forbes has been blasted for his comments, he knows -- as well as we do -- that this debate is about a lot more than someone's sexual preference. While we reject the false dichotomy of private and public morality, I -- like most Americans -- would rather not know about a person's bedroom habits. That's not the issue for Rep. Forbes. What he cares about --and what the GOP should too -- is whether these candidates will abide by the party's platform.
When Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked if his party could support an openly homosexual candidate, he replied, "I do." But the real question isn't whether the GOP would support an openly homosexual candidate, but whether it would support an openly homosexual activist who has sought to redefine marriage and undermine religious freedom. At the end of the day, conservatives and homosexual activists cannot coexist in a movement predicated on virtues that pre-date positive law. If there is a litmus test, it should be on ideology.
Instead, the NRCC and Republican Establishment are so desperate to beat the opposition that they'll sacrifice core principles to try. And here's the irony: that weak-kneed approach is what turns voters off. "Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender, or sexual orientation," said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the NRCC, "but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats." Translation: the GOP will throw its support behind any candidate they believe can win, even it means throwing the party's stated principles overboard.
The two men Randy Forbes questioned, Carl Demaio (California) and Richard Tisei (Massachusetts), not only reject the GOP platform on marriage and life -- but will actively work to undermine them. These are basic fundamental values that shouldn't be up for debate. After all, what's the purpose of the Republican platform if the party isn't looking for candidates who uphold it?
Rep. Forbes is right to object. If the GOP won't oppose liberals, the least it could do is stop funding them. Of all the differences between the two parties, this is one of the most significant. Democrats demand allegiance to their ideology, accepting nothing less than 100% devotion to their radical agenda -- while the GOP is willing to lower its standards and support candidates based on nothing but the "R" after their name. Does that mean the Republican Party should agree on everything? Absolutely not. There's a wide range of views in the GOP on everything from tax policy to health care reform. But it's one thing to have a difference of opinion on strategy and quite another to have a different set of ideals and guiding principles.
The Establishment likes to talk about expanding "the tent." But you can't build a bigger tent if someone is sawing down one of the poles. In this case, that pole is a collection of social values that are essential to solving the problems America is facing. Liberals understand that elections are about more than defeating the opposing party; they're about advancing core principles. If only Republicans got that.
Cook Stews over Georgia School Censorship
The Bible used to be the curriculum in schools -- now it's not even welcome on school grounds! Unfortunately for teachers, Bulloch County, Georgia, is the latest ground zero in the fight for religious freedom. Last month, the staff at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School was stunned to open their email and see the chilling message inside. "As of today, if you have a Bible verse on our school email and/or Bible verse posted in the classroom, please remove it immediately... If a student-led prayer is initiated, you must remove yourself and step away from the group." According to administrators, Christmas card displays, Bible screen savers, and Christian music are all off-limits after a complaint from the extremists at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
One teacher's spouse, Mr. Cook, was so outraged by the school's edict that he started a grassroots gathering, "Bulloch County Citizens for Religious Liberties." "I fear that if more of us do not stand firm against the progressive cancer of political correctness that is eating away at our society," he told Fox News's Todd Starnes, "we may not have much time left before we lose all religious liberty." This "religious cleansing," as Todd calls it, is just the latest in a long string of small town attacks. Groups like AUSCS recognize that their case is a losing one, so they try to intimidate more modest targets, like elementary school leaders, who have neither the will nor the budget to fight back.
Fortunately, this district's parents have the will. Last night, Jeremy Dys, an attorney for our friends at Liberty Institute, flew to Georgia and spoke to a packed Board of Education meeting about the controversy and its implications. "[This is] viewpoint discrimination that the school board is not permitted to engage in," Dys said to "Amens!" from the room. If it's a lawsuit AUSCS was looking for, then it's a lawsuit they might get. School employees would have plenty of grounds to sue for this outrageous violation of their First Amendment rights. Just because teachers work in the classroom doesn't mean they have to check their freedom at the door. So what can parents do? Try running for your local school board or getting more involved in the policies of your district. The Left doesn't expect us to fight back in small towns across America. It's time to prove them wrong.
Chalk Talk: Teachers Speak out on Common Core
Plenty of governors, state leaders, and parents have voiced their concerns on Common Core -- but the biggest objections may be coming from the people teaching it. Educators across the country are breaking their silence on the government's latest power grab and rejecting the role it reduces them to. "Now teachers aren't as unique," a public school history teacher in New Jersey told Fox News. The academic standards are so specific that the pressure to teach to the test is greater than ever. "It's like taking something done by humans and having it done by a machine."
Like most government projects, Common Core was designed by bureaucrats -- with or without classroom experience. In a Washington Post piece, one Delaware teacher complained that Washington's controversial program was taking the meaning out of her profession. "Teaching used to be a fun job that I was deeply passionate about," she wrote. "I used my own creativity, mixed with a healthy dose of perseverance, dedication and cheerleading to encourage my students..." Now, she explains, she has a new curriculum that destroys that ingenuity. "I was told by my administration to teach it 'word-for-word,'" reducing she and her colleagues to "robots." Unfortunately for her and thousands of other educators, Common Core doesn't just strip authority and control from parents and schools but teachers too.
** If you're one of the people holed up during the winter storm, we have the perfect weekend reading! FRC's experts have been busy cranking out great columns, including: Ken Blackwell's "Is ObamaCare Barack Obama's Vietnam?," Ken Klukowski's "Polls Show Americans Oppose HHS Mandate," and Leanna Baumer's "'Co-Parenting' -- Co-Operation in Ignoring Child Welfare."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.