August 27, 2006
It's been too long since I've been able to pen a column, because
a bad work travel schedule, some health issues, and just the
passage of time have been the major culprits.
Nevertheless, here we are back to face the reality, or perhaps
the absurdity, of the world around us.
Politically, I have been a registered Republican all of my
life because my late great Mother, a VERY staunch Democrat,
once told me that Mexicans were not allowed to register in
the GOP. That, of course, was a typical Democrat scare tactic,
but I joined the GOP because I wanted to make a difference,
as an American and especially as a Mexican-American.
All political parties have their problems and the Grand Old
Party is no exception. That is what this column is about.
My youngest daughter is a Green Party-registered environmentalist
and she knows that I despise no one more than our former Vice
President, Albert Gore. I have many, many reasons for those
feelings, but since none of you are shrinks, I won't lay on
the couch for you just yet.
Anyway, my dear darling daughter asked me to accompany her
to the movies to see Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
I tried every excuse on earth: "His voice just grates
on me terribly" (which it does); "He's a liar because
he said he invented the Internet" (which he did NOT);
"he's a whiner because he lost the presidential election
in the electoral college vote (as ALL elections have ever
been decided) and he still claims he got took just because
he won the popular vote." Someone PLEASE give him a civics
My daughter insisted I accompany her and because she was
home from college for the summer, and daddies should spend
quality time with their little girls, I gave in.
The first half hour was awful because I CANNOT stand Al Gore's
whiney voice. But as I got used to it and I focused on the
tropic of the film, global warming and all, and matched up
his story to the reality of what6 is happening in our country,
I stopped being the usual stubborn Republican.
Alas, my young college daughter had tricked me into watching
a damn good flick and I began to see a side of Al Gore I had
never been willing to explore. The facts and photos and scientists
he presented were hard to ignore. Photos of Mt. Fuji, Mt.
Kilimanjaro and others covered with snow 20 years ago and
now looking a dry and faded brown were hard to ignore.
The more I watched the movie, the more I came to the realization
that I have been as much a knee-jerk reactor as the next Republican
in the room. The news is everywhere, from the front pages
of the Los Angeles Times to cover stories in magazines like
Business Week, and certainly all over the television.
We have a problem and I hate like the dickens to say this,
but Gore has done one of the best jobs I have seen documenting
I tried to convince a couple of my GOP friends to see the
flick and they flatly refused. I even offered to buy them
tickets to the movie and again, they refused and accused me
of being a political switch hitter. I'm man enough to admit
when I'm wrong, and on this ONE point ALONE on Gore, I was
wrong. I am willing to give the man his due on this one.
Another area where I think Republicans are missing in the
boat is in telling the world they'll stay home on Election
Day if GOP candidates aren't more openly conservative. What
a joke! Are they going to let their pettiness hand Congress
and the U.S. Senate to Democrats by default?
One classic example of Republicans stupidly biting the hand
that feeds them involves a recent dustup involving probably
the most Republican company in America, Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart Stores is moving to attract gay shoppers as it expands
its presence in urban centers. But by entering into a partnership
with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the
company is alienating the far right. Wal-Mart spokespeople
say the company is making a very sincere effort to reach out
to people who are a significant part of their customer base.
Although Wal-Mart didn't issue a news release about the alliance,
and left the chamber to announce it, as news trickles out,
a backlash is taking shape among some conservatives.
The first volley was fired by Tony Perkins, president of the
Family Research Council, a conservative public policy group
in Washington, who said, "I don't think this is something
that will sell on Main Street America, where most Wal-Mart
stores are located. I don't think cheap prices on goods from
China will be enough to stop a rollback in their customer
base if they choose to go down this aisle."
Another conservative activist, Robert Knight, director of
the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America,
says Wal-Mart is "validating the idea that homosexual
activists have the right to shake down corporations out of
fear of being called bigots." Isn't it interesting that
a guy is the head of an institute for "Concerned Women
for America." The Democrats would probably never allow
Wal-Mart has made it clear it wants to expand to every nook
and cranny of the U.S., and earlier this year, the retailer
announced a strategy to increase its presence in urban areas.
Over the next two years, it plans to build more than 50 stores
in neighborhoods with high crime or unemployment rates, on
sites that are environmentally contaminated, or in vacant
buildings or malls in need of revitalization.
The company says the specific purpose of the partnership
is to help Wal-Mart attract and hire a diverse array of suppliers,
including gays and lesbians. Although it obtains much of its
merchandise from overseas suppliers, the world's largest retailer
also uses many local firms to provide services, such as landscaping,
architectural designing and painting.
Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the four-year-old
Gay Business Coalition, said he was certain that objections
from conservatives would not cause Wal-Mart, headquartered
in Bentonville, Ark., to back away from his organization.
Nelson says Wal-Mart initiated the partnership and "it's
a rock-solid relationship."
In recent months, as his group and Wal-Mart have discussed
their possible relationship, "it was brought up that
religious zealots would make these hateful comments,"
he said. Wal-Mart executives persuaded the chamber they would
remain resolute. Nelson said that while Wal-Mart may start
taking flak from the right, he expects he'll get attacked
from the left. Many liberal groups say the company fails to
provide its 1.3 million U.S. workers with adequate wages and
It looks like the world of politics these days has become
more about proving whose ideology can be more easily jammed
down the throats of the average American than trying to accept
the fact that many Republicans can accept gays, and many Democrats
can get along with big business.
We will continue our decline as a country and fail to reach
consensus on too many issues if we can't be more honest and
sincere in how we handle issues that we find politically uncomfortable.