By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
So maybe you're sitting there tying one on at the Continental or La Cave or the Chapman University cafeteria or wherever it is you get good with the world, and you're wondering, "This Republican thing I'm into, isn't it time I give it a frigging rest? I mean, what, I don't want to end up looking all scary like Strom Thurmond."
Strom Thurmond is only 37 years old! It's being a Republican that does that to you! C'mon, put that conservative shit down before it's too late for you, too.
Need a helpful nudge to turn from the dark side? Let us give you some reasons.
For starters, whatever you think Republicans stand for, they probably don't. My conservative contemporaries—who are looking more Strom-boyish by the moment—tell me they're Republicans because they hate big, intrusive government.
When you're done counting the chump change you got from the Bush tax cut, tell me if that's worth putting up with all the ways conservatives love to have government push into your life.
From Henry Miller to motel-room cable porn, Republicans have tried to control what you're allowed to read and see. If their corporate buddies in telecommunications weren't profiting from a big piece of the porn pie now, they'd still be after your freedom to choose for yourself. Poor Attorney General John Ashcroft has to content himself with cloaking the partially nude statues at the Justice Department—for the moment.
They're also the party that wants to determine how you can have sex—and with whom; what you can ingest; what you should worship; what your children are allowed to learn; what politics you can practice and the course your reproductive life will take.
Did you know that, thanks almost entirely to Republicans, there are still many states where common sex acts that you, I and most nice Americans enjoy are a crime? That oral sex or butt sex with your partner was previously a felonyin California, and that then-Governor Ronald Reagan several times vetoed attempts to repeal the law?
There's a weird dynamic where Republicans are anti-drug and big on criminalizing them, yet everyone I know smokes more weed during Republican administrations because the quality of bullshit coming out of Washington is so goddamn dreary. Millions of Americans manage to use drugs without abusing them. Why are conservatives so gung-ho on enlarging all the wrong kinds of government: eroding civil liberties and spending billions per year turning us into a prison nation? Why are "states' rights" Republicans denying California and other states the right to allow the medicinal use of marijuana? Bush's DEA has even set about criminalizing hemp foods, which flat-out will not get you high. The Bush American Taliban hasn't gone after non-ingestible products yet, so you are still free to pound hemp rope up your ass in search of that elusive THC buzz.
Some think conservatives are so down on pleasure because they're so high on religion. Some of our founding fathers were high on religion, but not so much so that they felt it was government's business to ram it down your throat. Kids can survive school prayer, but others won't live through the Bush administration letting a fundamentalist interpretation of ancient beliefs decide the issue of stem-cell research. In several states, Republicans are still fighting to teach the Bible as science. If women are made out of ribs, does that make Stuart Anderson God?
As I see it, Republicans are all for your individual liberty, as long as you act and think just like them. Otherwise, look out: you'll get spied on, banned, blacklisted or hauled before an UnAmerican Activities Committee. And Republicans will be in your business right up through your last death rattle. In their perverse version of cradle-to-grave care, they assert the right of government to compel you to suffer through every agonizing instant of a terminal illness before you die. The Bush administration, again, is injecting the federal boot into a states' rights issue in Oregon, where voters approved a "death with dignity" law.
Learn a lesson from history: when time has passed and the books and movies are made, conservatives always come out as the heavies. That's because they're so damn wrong all the time: on segregation and civil rights, on women's rights, on rock & roll (which they, no kidding, claimed was a communist plot), on McCarthyism, on spying on law-abiding U.S. citizens, on spying on John Lennon, on South Africa, on deregulation, on the ozone layer, on global warming. If there's positive change brewing, they're the ones holding it back. Give Republicans a time machine, and they'd go back to snuff out Galileo and the guy who invented fire. You don't want to be the guy no ones likes in the movie, do you? Come on over, bowtie boy!
The other thing Republicans always tell me is that government should be run like a business. But when it comes to real life, that's the last thing Republicans do. For starters, the worst money-for-nothing thing a business can do is to burn its capital paying interest on debt. Somehow, somewhere the Republicans became deficit junkies. Reagan ran up the national debt higher than all previous U.S. presidents combined. Bill Clinton reined it in, and now Bush is using the Reagan formula—tax cuts that favor the few, plus a huge military buildup—to produce a $165 billion deficit, the first time we've run in the red since 1997.