EDITORIAL: GOP proposed radical platform must not see light of day
Every four years, as the nation prepares to elect a president, the political parties adopt official platforms at their national conventions. The platforms outline the party’s stance on important issues and specific plans to accomplish the party’s goals.
Though politicians — particularly presidential candidates — are free to break with the platform, this document represents the general positions and actions politicians are expected to support if they are to be considered a member of that party.
The individual policies or views that make up the platform are often referred to as “planks.”
The final draft version of the Republican Party’s platform was leaked early last week. What it reveals about Republican plans for the next four years is disheartening.
The draft — called “the most conservative platform in modern history” by platform committee member Russ Walker — includes some extreme and dangerous views.
These planks are not merely normal right-of-center views. They aren’t even simply an effort to strengthen certain stances to energize a conservative base. They represent the hijacking of the party by a fringe contingent clearly bent on taking the party beyond the views of the average American.
Admittedly, the platform is not all bad. Democrats should take note of a provision to protect Internet freedom. And it is heartening to note that much of the platform focuses on job creation and economic growth, clearly the most important issues in the upcoming election.
But the fact that so much space has been dedicated to aggressive, intolerant social policies is inexcusable. This platform does not represent the party of Lincoln. And if Republican voters aren’t careful, the GOP will soon look nothing like its former self.
Given recent ignorant and inflammatory comments by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., the most controversial piece of the platform is the call for a “human life amendment.”
This proposed constitutional ban on abortion has been part of every Republican Party platform for decades, but Akin’s comments have drawn attention to the fact that this year’s platform does not specify any exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
Though some drafts of such an amendment do include these exceptions, others don’t. Recent events have made it clear that not all Republicans support such exceptions, and the GOP has run out of good faith on this point. The party should have explicitly included such exceptions if they were intended.
Without such exceptions, this platform plank has gone from the usual attack on reproductive rights to an extreme and inhuman lack of empathy.
The platform also calls for expanding the 14th Amendment to grant full rights of citizenship to “unborn children.” It’s difficult to see how any exceptions could be made to such a law.
The central theme for the platform’s defense planks is “peace through strength,” according to Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness president. Apparently, a “strong” military is one that denies servicemembers equal rights based on traits like gender and sexual orientation.
The platform censures the Obama administration for “social experimentation” in the armed forces and calls for a reinstatement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a denial of marriage rights and benefits to servicemembers in same-sex relationships, and a restriction of women to non-frontline units.
This is despite assurances from military experts that none of these policies will benefit troop cohesion or morale. America doesn’t need that kind of strength. It needs the strength that comes from letting all citizens serve their country with equal dignity and respect.
The platform takes a firm stance against same-sex marriage, criticizing President Barack Obama for failing to support the Defense of Marriage Act and suggesting a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
It fails to include even language suggested by some delegates supporting civil unions or reiterating the legal equality of same-sex couples. The platform bases its strict views on the argument that different-sex marriage has traditionally “been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.”
This position ignores the fact that the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to every major poll conducted in the last several months.
Even in the modern era, what about single-parent homes? What about couples who cannot conceive and do not adopt? What about couples who simply choose not to make procreation a part of their lives? If marriage is only for the purpose of having and rearing children, it would seem these marriages are invalid and should be no more legal than same-sex marriage.
And, of course, it also ignores the simple fact that denying same-sex couples the right to marry — and even refusing to acknowledge their basic legal equality — violates the most basic conservative principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility and minimal governmental intrusion into citizens’ lives.
The platform’s aggressive stance on immigration includes support for completion of the money-wasting border fence project, an end to sanctuary cities and a line urging the Department of Justice to stop lawsuits against dangerous and draconian immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah.
It also opposes “any forms of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, significantly tying the hands of Republican politicians who may want to compromise on the DREAM Act or similar bills that would give bright college students or dedicated soldiers the chance to become American citizens.
This platform indicates an alarming shift toward the far-right for the Republican Party. The extreme has become the mainstream.
This platform may not represent the individual views of every Republican running this November, including Mitt Romney, but it does indicate the direction their party is headed and the expectations they will be facing if elected. This is especially true for legislators.
In the excitement of the presidential election season, don’t forget about these other important races. Not only do legislators wield much power over these important issues, but these races also are much more open to influence from individual voters.
It’s clear that Oklahoma will belong to Romney in November. But who the state chooses to represent it in the Legislature is not so set in stone. This means you have the power to ensure these radical platforms don’t make it onto the legislative agenda. It is vitally important that you pay attention to and participate in these elections, even if you don’t vote for president.
If you vote Republican, you owe it to your party to support more moderate voices and let the GOP know you will not follow it over the cliff to extremism. If you are an independent or haven’t yet made up your mind, think carefully about what each candidate represents and how likely they are to fall into line with their party.
No matter who you are, before casting your vote, be sure it’s not a vote for this hate-fueled platform.