The Universal Notebook: Welcome to the Grand Old (Tea) Party

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So where were the responsible adults when the Tea Party yahoos of the Knox County delegation to the Republican state convention were on their search-and-destroy mission at King Middle School in Portland?

Their McCarthy-esque hunt led them to rummage through a teacher’s supplies, steal a poster they found unAmerican, and then have the temerity to call the school to complain.

More to the point, where were the responsible Republicans when these same Tea Party insurgents were turning their party into a national laughing stock? The Maine Republican Party, once a bastion of moderate, thoughtful, independent men and women like Margaret Chase Smith, William Cohen, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, was hijacked at its convention by the radical fringe that is fast becoming the broken heart of the GOP.

In a move that Chris Matthews on “Hardball” compared to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” the lunatic fringe managed to turn the Maine Republican platform into a Tea Party manifesto.

“The Tea Party movement is reminiscent of the principled revolt that led to the birth of the Republican Party in 1854,” states the Preamble.

Sample planks in the platform pledge to:

• Prohibit any public funding of advocacy groups such as ACORN, no matter what it or its affiliate organizations rename themselves, and conduct thorough investigation of their activities and voter fraud, and prosecute violations.

• Reject the UN Treaty on Rights of the Child.

• Reject any agreement which seeks to confiscate our firearms.

• Discard political correctness, make public the declaration of war (Jihad) made against the U.S. on Feb. 23 1998, and fight to win the war against the United States by radical Islam.

• Seal the border and protect U.S. citizens along the border and everywhere, as is the prime directive of the Federal Government.

• Espouse and follow the principle: It is immoral to steal the property rightfully earned by one person, and give it to another who has no claim or right to its benefits.

• No amnesty, no benefits, no citizenship – ever – for anyone in the country illegally. Arrest and detain, for a specified period of time, anyone here illegally, and then deport. Period.

• Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion.

• Repeal and prohibit any participation in efforts to create a one-world government.

And, oh yes, the Maine GOP would now also like to get rid of the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Reserve and adopt “Austrian Economics,” a laissez-faire philosophy of letting business do whatever it pleases.

“These are things that Republicans believe, especially working-class people,” Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster told the Christian Science Monitor, apparently with a straight face.

If that’s so, it’s not clear why the GOP didn’t just jump overboard with the Tea Party altogether. Why not investigate whether George Bush was behind 9/11 and whether Barack Obama was really born in the U.S.A.? Why not advocate building a fence along the Canadian border, making English the official language of Maine, and reinstating the death penalty?

Most Mainers, I believe, will conclude from both the King Middle School invasion and the bizarre Republican platform that it is the Tea Party that is unAmerican. The majority of Maine people do not, I dare say not even the majority of Republicans, espouse their extremist views. One prominent Republican attorney reportedly called his party’s newly warped platform “wack job pablum” and “nutcase stuff.”

Maybe the GOP was just letting the zealous wingnuts have their play day, figuring no one ever actually acts on state party platforms. Let’s just hope Maine Republicans come to their senses, purge their party of these toxic elements, and get back to the legitimate business of lowering taxes and downsizing government. Let the Madhatters have their own Tea Party somewhere else, Utah maybe, or Arizona.

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The Universal Notebook is Edgar Allen Beem’s personal look at the world around him.