Some Questions About Republicans

Dear Julian,

A rather vile e-mail crossed my desk, which excoriates “Republicans” using purple prose that unfortunately stokes my own political prejudices. I’m currently trying to find some balance in the world (with difficulty), and I don’t like having my prejudices stoked. So I’m taking the small substance of the diatribe, stripping the inflammatory language, and turning it into some pointed questions about Republican philosophy. Fact-checking, if you will. “Republicans have no fixed ideas on this subject,” is an acceptable answer, if appropriate, but I cannot imagine it is the case for all of these.

  • Republicans are widely perceived as being opposed to progressive income taxes in general, and as giving tax breaks to the rich and taking more tax from the poor. The web page at http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=19 tends to bear this out (it’s a list of top and bottom tax brackets from 1913 to present — you can clearly see the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II periods in the data). In addition, the “unearned income” exemption that allows investment income, rents, and royalties to be sheltered from FICA taxes preferentially exempts the wealthy. Do Republicans oppose progressive taxation, and why?
  • Republicans are widely perceived as being opposed to unions and collective bargaining in all forms by labor, yet seem to be in support of collective bargaining between companies (e.g. private medical insurance). Is this true, and what accounts for the difference?
  • Republicans were (in my memory) opposed to business regulation in almost any form during the Reagan years, when the term “deregulation” came into currency. I remember reading an article by Ralph Nader in the early 80’s, where he claimed that within two decades, “deregulation” would be a dirty word in the public mind. Prescient. Republicans are widely perceived as continuing support for unlimited deregulation of all business activities. Is this still true, and why?
  • Republicans are widely perceived as being opposed to public tax-funded education and in favor of private or home schooling, as evidenced by the recurring “vouchers” theme. Is this true, and why?
  • Republicans are widely perceived as providing (at best) mixed messages regarding civil rights. While speaking strongly about “individual liberty,” it was the Reagan administration that substantially weakened the fourth amendment rights regarding search and seizure in support of the “Drug War,” and it was the Bush II administration that gave us Patriot Act I, perpetual Condition Orange, wiretapping without legal oversight, “free speech zones,” the Guantanamo Bay prison, Abu Ghraib, … his list is very long. What is the Republican stand on individual civil rights, and if it is truly supportive of them, what accounts for these abuses?

I’ll stop there for now.

— Themon

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