Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks at First Redeemer Church while on a campaign tour in Cumming, Georgia, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Much is being made, and appropriately so, about the extremism of the Republican presidential field when it comes to reproductive rights and ripping down Thomas Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state.
It is not just Rick Santorum. Three of the four Republican contenders for the presidency—the sometimes exception is Ron Paul—are running campaigns that position them as theocratic extremists of a far more radical bent than religious-right contenders such as Pat Robertson in 1988 or Gary Bauer in 2000.
But there was an ever more arch fundamentalism on display among the Republican contenders as they battled across Arizona and Michigan in anticipation of today’s critical primaries in those states.
Like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Maine Governor Paul LePage, they are anti-labor extremists whose opposition to free trade unions goes to extremes not seen since southern segregationists sought to bar unions because of their fear that white workers and people of color were being organized into labor organizations that would threaten “Jim Crow.”
When the candidates debated last Wednesday night in Arizona—a state where Republican Governor Jan Brewer and her legislative allies are advancing a package of anti-union measures—there was no mercy for working Americans or the unions that represent them.
As usual, that went double for Newt Gingrich.
The former Speaker of the House—and noted advocate for overturning child-labor laws—compared unions that represent public-school teachers with rouge nations that attack the United States.
“It’s increasingly clear [education unions] care about protecting bad teachers. If you look at [Los Angeles] Unified, it is almost criminal what we do to the poorest children of America,” he said. “If a foreign nation did this to our children, we would declare it an act of war because they are doing so much damage.”
That’s a typically incendiary remark from Gingrich—he’s even condeming Santorum as a “big-labor Republican”—whose bombast is exceeded only by his inaccuracy.
The union that represents teachers in the country’s second-largest school district, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), is not at war with the United States. Nor is it damaging the poorest children of Los Angeles, or America. It’s advocacy over the past four decades has been on behalf of stronger curriculums, safer classrooms and the best interests of those poorest kids