For some reason or another, I received a copy of the “Official Census of the Republican Party” in the mail today. Let’s just say they missed their target audience with this piece of mail. Well, I actually know why I received a copy–Minnesota is a swing state and in the coming weeks we will be receiving a lot of attention. In fact, as I have already mentioned here on my blog, Bruce Springsteen will be giving a concert here in October to support John Kerry.
The letter accompanying the survey, begins: Dear fellow Republican. Boy did they guess wrong. I have heard that these letters have been sent, but I never have seen one until today. Perhaps they chose the letter’s recipients by zip code. It certainly isn’t from reading Web logs, that’s for sure. Sparking paranoia the letter mentions that a “broad coalition of liberal grassroots activists” are doubling their efforts to “identify and and get out their voters.” Thus, the reason for this letter, they say. The survey is also billed as a way for the party to get a “statistically reliable sampling of our party.” More than 5.5 million have hit the mail.
But it’s amazing if that is really what the letter is intending–to get a measure on how people feel. It’s only 16 questions long (or 18, if you count the last two questions: Did you vote in the last three elections? and, Will you join our party?), and every question asks for either a “yes” or “no.” To me, it’s just a way to rally the troops I suppose. Responding to the survey registers you in the party, and of course there is encouragement to contribute money.
The stuff in this questionnaire is a bit chilling in what in hints at for the party’s agenda in the coming years, should they be successful. A sampling of the questions.
* Should we build President Reagan’s SDI defense shield against nuclear missile attack?
* Do you support the President’s plan to increase military spending to meet our defense needs?
* Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?
Honestly, I’m not making this up. Those are some of the questions. And of course there are the natural GOP targets: Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders? Do you support the bans against partial birth abortion?
And then there are just those questions that leave me scratching my head: Do you support President Bush’s plan to make our schools more accountable to parents and to restore local control of education? (Sure I do. Then what does all of the federal bureaucracy and hoops created for teachers and administrators by No Child Left Behind legislation have to do with “local control of education”?) And another one: Do you support President Bush’s pro-growth policies to create more jobs and improve the economy? (When he creates a policy and creates at least one new job, give me a call. Instead he would rather strip six million workers of their right to overtime pay.) And more: Should small businesses be encouraged to grow and hire more workers? (I’m not even going to touch that one.)
Here’s the question from the Republican census that relates to this Web site: Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority? Absolutely. And I am trying to answer that one without my tongue in my cheek. Please don’t ask that question as if those across the political aisle would not like to see this happen, or as if they have not worked very hard to achieve that end. Do not use that question as a setup for some couched political agenda. If you ask it; mean it. Place the topic in every speech. Make it priority number one. Reading is absolutely fundamental; there is no better gift for a child than teaching him or her to read. It’s a stupid question to ask in a political brochure.
And put your money where your survey is. To those in power, I say we still have a country to run. You don’t need an election to act on this one. I don’t think there is any political opposition to putting books into the hands of children. To those who set the agenda and control the purse strings (Republican or Democrat) shame on you for politicizing this issue. There are children who need your help right now. Fund schools. Begin after-school reading programs. Place special tutors in schools for those who have trouble learning. Build libraries. And I don’t care how much it costs. Mr. President: Spend $87 billion on increasing literacy in every corner of the country, and then see if your political opponent votes with you or not. Then you will have an issue to discuss. Do this and children will benefit; our country will benefit. What are you waiting for?