Notes on the Parties’ Platforms UPDATE BELOW

September 5, 2012

Every four years, at their presidential nominating conventions, the Republican and Democratic Parties write their official platforms.  (Apparently one Web site has the text of past platforms going back to 1840.)

You can read them yourself, but they are not simple lists of concise statements of the parties’ positions; they’re full of background, findings of fact, and other long-winded attempts to frame the issues in their favor, present their positions in a way that makes them sound reasonable, and persuade the reader to agree with them.  Fair enough, and perhaps that’s inevitable, but the result is that the 2012 Republican Party platform (in PDF form) is some 60 pages long, the Democrats40.  As Speaker John Boehner has remarked, “If it were up to me, I’d have the platform on one sheet of paper.  Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform?  I’ve never met anybody.”

So here are some of the highlights of this year’s Republican and Democrat platforms.  If you like them, maybe you’ll be more likely to vote for that party; if not, less.  Even if you’re generally left-leaning, you may not like some of these items for the Democrats; so, lest you think I’m making them up, I’ll link to both liberal and conservative sources for several of them.

Republicans

This year, the Tea Party group Freedom Works claims success getting “11.5 of the 12 planks” of their platform proposals accepted in the final Republican Party document.  According to Freedom Works, here are those items:

1)      Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care

2)      Stop the Tax Hikes

3)      Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases

4)      [Work toward a simpler, flatter income tax]

5)      Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment

6)      Reject Cap and Trade

7)      Rein in the EPA

8)      Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential

[Item 9 did not make it into the platform.]

10)    Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce

11)    Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation

12)    Audit the Fed

According to Mark Krikorian at National Review Online, the platform says that the party will “consider” a guest-worker program, but it also includes items from the 2008 platform in favor of E-verify (a way to help employers hire only those legally allowed to work here) and a border fence.

I see that the 2012 platform also calls for English to be the official language of the United States, as did the 2008 platform.

The Republican platform also affirms, among other things, “that our rights come from God”.  It adds, “In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable, inherent rights of its citizens, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and expands on that:

Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage.

Democrats

The Democrats have removed all mention of God from their platform (ABC News, Weekly Standard).*

Their 2012 platform “reaffirms the party’s support for abortion rights”, and adds, “regardless of ability to pay”—in other words, it is official Democratic Party policy to force taxpayers (including those who consider abortion immoral) to pay for other people’s abortions.

For the first time ever, the Democrat platform calls for changing the government’s definition of marriage to include same-sex couples (New York Times, National Review Online).

The 2012 platform, unlike the 2008 platform, no longer acknowledges that Jerusalem is or should be the capital of Israel, and no longer denounces the anti-Israel terrorist organization Hamas (ABC News, The Blaze, Weekly Standard).  The “statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” “had been included in Democratic Party platforms since at least 1992”.*

A few other notes on the two platforms, from the liberal New York Times:

  • The Republican platform supports reforming Medicare and Social Security; the Democrat platform supports the status quo and opposes any reform.  Unfortunately, the status quo is not an option; Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable, as their own trustees and even CNN acknowledge.  In other words, the Democrats accuse Republicans of wanting to destroy those programs, but the Democrats’ plan (doing nothing) is guaranteed to destroy them.
  • “The Democratic platform sometimes reads more like a look back than a road map of what the party would do over the next four years. Many paragraphs are devoted to putting President Obama’s record in the most flattering light possible. The platform mentions that 4.5 million private-sector jobs have been created in the United States since ‘early 2010’ — a time period that ignores the steep job losses of 2009.”  (Remember, this is all according to the liberal New York Times, from this article.)
  • “Some of this year’s planks are reminders of the unfulfilled pledges from 2008.”
  • “The 2008 platform called for ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’ but since it has not passed, the 2012 platform does, too. And the 2008 platform said ‘we will implement a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic change.’ Since that has not happened, the 2012 platform calls for reducing carbon emissions domestically ‘through regulation and market solutions.'”  (Recall that the Democrats held the White House and both houses of Congress, including a filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, in 2009.  Thus, for better or for worse, for anything in their platform that “has not happened”, it’s because Democrats chose not to do it.)
  • The Democrats favor re-enacting the discarded 1994 federal “assault weapon” ban.  The Republicans “oppose legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill-considered Clinton gun ban.”

* Update (September 5th, 2012):  Tevyeh (below) points out that the Democrats have just put God and Jerusalem back in their platform.  (This Yahoo News story is dated about three hours ago, well after my original post.)  Excerpt:

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Facing unhappy pro-Israel groups amid a Republican-led outcry, Democrats gathered Wednesday at their presidential nominating convention made 11th-hour changes to the party platform to reinstate a reference to God and a declaration that “undivided” Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

There was widespread booing on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led delegates in three voice votes that sounded, at best, equally divided on whether to restore language from the party’s 2008 document. Observers said the boos were directed at Villaraigosa’s decision to skip a formal ballot and declare the platform amended.

6 Responses to “Notes on the Parties’ Platforms UPDATE BELOW”

  1. Tevyeh Says:

    The Dems have now amended their platform to include mention of “God-given rights” and an assertion that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/democrats-reinstate-god-jerusalem-israel-capital-party-platform-223437220–election.html

  2. Tevyeh Says:

    “Observers said the boos were directed at Villaraigosa’s decision to skip a formal ballot and declare the platform amended.”

    Right, because nothing provokes a crowd quite like procedural issues.


    • Right! I guess I think this makes the Democrats look much worse than removing God in the first place did, not only because a sizable number of them booed God, but also because it seems like an open admission on their part that the conservative criticisms are true: that liberal politicians pretend to be more conservative and less atheist than they really are in order to win votes from a disproportionately conservative, religious people.


  3. […] directly with the HHS mandate.  Note that this is the official policy of the Democratic Party, in the platform—not only must there be abortion, but the rest of us must be forced to pay for […]


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