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Powwow Power: Republican Party Platform Is Art-less (except for Native American culture)

“We Believe in America”…but not in the arts

Maybe Kevin Gover (whose name, after all, forms the first half of “Gover-nment’) has gotten the Republican Party’s ear. (As you may remember, his director’s office at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington overlooks the Capitol.)

My recent text search on the Republican Party Platform came up with no mention of “art” or “culture” (other than red herrings like “part,” “stalwart,” “agriculture” and that old standby, “culture of dependency”), except for two fleeting instances.

On p. 27:

We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures [emphasis added].

Wow! Did they really say that? And does Republican “support” for preservation of Native American culture mean “financial support”? (Kevin, you need to press this advantage!)

And on pp. 46-7:

International broadcasting of free and impartial information during the Cold War kept truth and hope alive in the Captive Nations. Today, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio/TV Marti do the same in other lands where freedom is unknown or endangered. We support these essential extensions of American values and culture [emphasis added] and urge their expansion in the Middle East.

Apparently the Republicans would gladly support informational and cultural broadcasting abroad, but not PBS at home. There’s been another flurry of articles about Mitt Romney‘s repeated statement that he would not support continued funding for public broadcasting or for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (as discussed last March on CultureGrrl, here and here).

The harm to the arts from cutting federal cultural support would undoubtedly have a destructive ripple effect: If the Natonal Endowments go under, will the State Councils on the Arts and Humanities be far behind? Wouldn’t financially strapped local governments, likewise, be tempted to pull back?

Still, you’ve got to give the GOP credit for the gutsy move of putting a performing artist/filmmaker on the podium to deliver an entertaining, high-profile speech on the same night as Romney’s snoozer. In what was more stand-up comedy than political discourse, Clint Eastwood effortlessly brought down the house. Although the Republicans have frequently derided liberal celebrity “pundits,” they decided to accord a high-profile, nationally televised showcase to one of their own.

Will the arts and culture have a place in the Democrats’ platform or on its convention rostrum? I wouldn’t bet on it, but hope springs eternal.

Is Billy Crystal available to warm up the crowd?

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