Republicans often ask, "Why do Democrats hate America?" That question is usually based on the interpretation that policies that Republicans disagree with are socialist, or maybe even Marxist or communist, and thus un-American. To be fair, Democrats can ask the same type of question but with much more specific targets of hate, based on actual laws passed or called for in Congress and in state legislatures controlled by Republicans. Here are some examples.
Why do Republicans hate veterans? This may be surprising because Republicans always consider themselves super-patriots and thank veterans for their service. And yet repeatedly in the last few years Republicans in Congress have voted against funding for veteran benefits. Earlier this year 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill that the Veterans of Foreign Wars and nearly every other veterans group enthusiastically supported. Republicans don't actually hate veterans but they do not consider their problems worth spending money on; Democrats do.
Why do Republicans hate voters? In 21 states controlled by Republican legislatures a series of laws have been passed to limit the days available for voting, to require identification cards, to reduce voter registration, and to otherwise make voting more difficult. Although voting is the main way citizens have to participate in their government, and is specifically recognized as important in the Constitution, Republicans defend their restrictions by claiming to need to reduce voter fraud. But every study, even by Republicans, shows that voter fraud hardly exists. The real reason for the restrictions was stated by a Pennsylvania Republican legislator - the restrictions would keep Democrats from voting.
Why do Republicans hate women? Often Republicans place women on pedestals as homemakers and mothers, little women to be taken care of by their men. But woman are this and much more today, and they want to make their own decisions, especially about their bodies. Republican men seem to have a prurient interest in women's reproductive lives. They want employers to control whether women's insurance provides access to birth control medications and procedures. Some want to eliminate all birth control except abstention, and even to not consider rape a crime. A number of Republican controlled states require that women considering abortion undergo medically unnecessary vaginal probes. All this insertion of government in the most intimate of human activities comes from a party that claims to want to get the government out of our lives.
Why do Republicans hate science? Republicans do not like modern scientific understanding of the world, which shows that the universe is ancient, planets and animals evolved over billions of years, and humans are seriously affecting the environment. Republicans, who are political fundamentalists, have generally accepted the most fundamentalist religious views too. Those views are in violent disagreement with the way the world actually works, but rather than update their 2,000-year-old religious views -most other religions do accommodate science - fundamentalists claim that all other means of understanding are wrong. Because many Republicans are religious fundamentalists, they cannot negotiate, for there is only one truth, and they alone know it.
Why do Republicans hate the U.S. government? The Republican Party has been taken over by Tea Party extremists who believe that there is virtually no role for a national government except national defense. Many believe that the federal government should not be involved in education, health care, worker safety, food and product safety, retirement security, the environment or hardly anything else. That is why some Republicans want to eliminate government agencies - when they can remember what they are. Yet the government's role in each of these areas resulted from failures that were so egregious that a regulatory need was necessary. America is a far better place because of government.
This is just a very short list of many things that Republicans hate. Although no Republican would admit to "hating" any of these groups, their votes speak much louder than their patriotic words.
When Republicans vote against veterans and other causes that they noisily support, they always say that the particular bill is flawed or that the country simply does have enough money. Every bill is flawed if, like the Taliban, you accept no compromises. The purpose of Congress is to identify problems and to reach solutions to address them. Since the day President Obama was inaugurated, Republicans have pledged to refuse to support his proposals so that he would fail. This has resulted in the fewest bills being passed by any Congress, and more and more of America's problems have been left unaddressed. Based on this consistent inaction by Congressional Republicans isn't it fair to ask, Why do Republicans hate America?
I believe that there are three main reasons. First, Republicans want the presidency of Obama to be a failure, with no success in anything. Instead of being the loyal opposition, they are hateful partisans. Of course, a side affect of their abrogation of responsibility is that America does not address its problems during Obama's eight years in office. That is why the president has been forced to take executive actions, as did Bush, Clinton and Reagan, to move America forward.
Second, Republicans have become the party of old white men at a time when the demographics of the nation are rapidly changing. Blacks, Hispanics and people of Asian ancestry are becoming the majority, and naturally want their concerns represented in government. Republicans are doing everything they can, including gerrymandering voting districts, restricting voting, and allowing unlimited money in campaigns, to extend their time in control. But unless they remove voting rights, the Republicans face a bleak electoral future.
Third, Republicans constantly flaunt their Christianity but they fail to accept one of Christ's main teachings, to help the poor and afflicted. Republicans seem to believe that anyone who isn't the same as them does not deserve any help. They are mean-spirited, and their actions say that society should not help the less fortunate, be they children or veterans.
Today's Republicans are a strange case of a major political party developing a pathologic antagonism to the modern world. They want their America back, which no longer exists and when it did women and minorities were under the thumbs of white men. Thank heaven that America is gone forever.
Guest columnist Wood is a resident of Wheeling.