We can't soar with turkeys

Phil Anderson

Which one is the turkey (and where is Trump putting his hand)?

It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys.”

This saying is insulting to turkeys. The wild turkeys in my neighborhood are beautiful, intelligent birds with strong and adaptable survival skills. Perhaps this is why Ben Franklin proposed having the turkey as our national bird.  

The eagles are also survivors, having come back from near extension because of DDT, a man-made chemical. Today my wife and I often see them “soaring” at a roadside carcass to gorge on carrion. This is not the noble, patriotic image we associate with eagles. But who am I to criticize? I too have occasionally dined on roadkill.  

But this article is not about ornithology. It is about how we are having a tough time soaring as a nation and a society because we are being led by turkeys (in the derogatory sense).  

I do not agree with the “false equivalency” narrative promoted by the media. There is a difference between the two parties on many issues. Both sides are not equally responsible. There is demonstrable, historical evidence that Democrats – despite their many faults – do good things for people. Republican policies hurt people.  

This truth is easily shown by a look at the actions and agendas of Republicans. These range from the small and ridiculous to major policies that affect millions of us. These actions go way beyond the usual conservative obsessions with god, guns and gays and their anti-women, anti-taxes, anti-government policies. Current Republicans want to defund, repeal or destroy all positive social progress of the last 150 years.  

I start with a truly ridiculous example that is sure to harm people but makes no sense at all. People who work outdoors in extreme heat should get frequent breaks for water. This is a basic, common sense safety procedure that many companies (and their workers' compensation insurers) insist on.  

But this is too “woke” for the Florida Republican-controlled legislature. The “Sunshine State” had its hottest summer ever recorded last year. So instead of doing something sensible to combat climate change they are advancing a bill to prohibit local ordinances from mandating water breaks for outdoor workers. Last year Texas passed the same nonsense.  

Speaking of Texas, the 2022 state Republican Party platform is a case study in stupid. Texas is plagued with environmental problems, cancer clusters and huge traffic problems (try driving I-35 in Texas especially through Dallas-Ft. Worth). But the Republican platform opposes “anti-car measures that punish those who choose to travel alone in their own personal vehicle, we oppose...mandates to force deference to pedestrian, bike and mass transit options.”  

They called for ending “environmentalism that obstructs legitimate business interests and private property use...” The many chemical plants and oil refineries south of Houston are one of the most polluted places in the country because of Republican policies.   On social issues the Texas Republicans wanted to abolish “all federal welfare programs,” prohibit the “teaching of sex education, sexual health, or sexual choice or identity in any public school in any grade,” end “school-based mental health providers, school-based or school-connected mental health interventions.” It doesn't take a psychologist to see the harm from these proposals.  

This stupidity went on for 274 platform planks. They called for unlimited campaign contributions to political candidates, repeal of federal voting rights laws and the abolition of many federal agencies including Internal Revenue Service, Transportation Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, National Labor Relations Board, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Who in their right mind would want to abolish the FDIC that guarantees our bank accounts?  

On other important issues, we know Republicans will continue efforts to suppress voting rights, gerrymander electoral districts and rig elections in their favor. We know women's right to control their own bodies will be further restricted. We know Republicans will cut Social Security and Medicare and try again to abolish Obama Care. Biden's efforts to control drug prices, do better on environmental protection, promote green energy and support fair labor laws will all be killed if Republicans win in November.   On the national level Republicans have a detailed plan to implement all their bad policy ideas.    

Called “Project 2025,” it is a 900-page manual on how Trump, if he wins, can use executive authority to completely remake the federal government. It is a plan to implement Trump's statement that he “will be a dictator on day one.”  

The conservative Heritage Foundation has written one of these policy agendas every four years since Ronald Reagan was first elected. But this year's version is much more extensive and dangerous. Concerned that the first Trump administration was incompetent, disorganized and chaotic, Project 2025 has a full range of policy proposals that are shovel ready with implementation instructions.  

The plan would eliminate or cut funding for many federal departments and agencies (except law enforcement and the military). The plan calls for a purge of 50,000 federal employees and to replace them with Trump appointees. Independent federal agencies, like the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service, would be placed under the complete, direct control of the President.  

A Nation magazine article says about this plan, “Be scared, be very scared …The priority will be to bring the [federal]  bureaucracy to heel. No more 'adults in the room' to curb Trump’s impulses. No more civil servants loyal more to the law than to the president.”  

The Project 2025 authors claim to be protecting liberty and saving the country from “socialism.” But based on what is happening in Republican controlled states, it is clear that  Republicans have a very selective and limited concept of individual liberty. Republicans protect the “freedom” of basically two groups – gun owners and the extremely wealthy. The 2nd amendment, an unregulated “free market,” and the freedom to avoid taxes are their primary concerns.  

Not only do they protect the “freedom” of a few to do harmful things, they are constantly attacking the freedom of others to simply live their lives in peace. Women, minorities, immigrants, children, LBGTQ, union members, environmentalists and protesters need not apply for equal freedom.  

“Working people voting for Republicans is like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving.” There is overwhelming evidence that if working people vote for another flock of Republican turkeys they will get stuffed and roasted.