As I sit here, trying to wrap my head around an incredible, and tragic, week of news – both foreign and domestic, I’m at a loss for somewhere to start. Or anything to say that so many others haven’t already said with more eloquence than I ever could. So many thoughts swirling around, but the words are a bit ephemeral and keep vanishing when I try to grab onto them. So I think I need to change gears because it’s somewhat easier to channel my thoughts away from the heartache of the human tragedies (and I count the attempted coup in Turkey among those), and toward the political tragedies (or travesties?). Anger is much easier to address in writing. Sometimes.
“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.” — Alexis de Tocqueville
One of the more politically disturbing things to come up this past week, was the leak of the draft Republican National Party Platform for 2016. It’s been widely reported on without links, but I managed to find a link to a PDF on conservativereview.com. This is only a draft, and there was apparently additional language related to pornography prior to the committee approving the draft of Tuesday, but it is so out of touch with modern American reality, that I’ve seen several people commenting that it somehow proves that Trump is plotting to elect Clinton. Well, out of touch though the proposed platform certainly is, let me dispel that notion. First of all, the committee that drafted it had 112 people on it – apparently mostly to the right of reality, and naturally including Tony Perkins – who is not exactly a Clinton supporter – so if that was the plan, it was pretty risky. Second, the platform is well to the right of Trump on many issues – but it does include building his wall, and much of his trade phobia. So no – this is not some sort of strange Trump and/or RNC plot to hand the election to Clinton – it is, however, indicative of how much the RNC has allowed itself to be pushed away from the views of the majority of Americans.
For contrast – this is the official DNC link to the draft 2016 Democratic Party Platform.
Historically, it is the party activists, read extremists, that draft the platforms, and the views, and reality-checking, of the presumptive nominee, iron out the rough edges, so that the final platform – while not necessarily being all things to all people – manages to appeal to those in the middle. This is the case for both the Republican and Democratic parties. The concern this time (even among conservatives), and it’s a very legitimate one, is that Donald Trump’s complete ignorance of policy, and lack of interest in procedure, will allow for less tempering than normal during the party’s review and ratification process. Unless much saner heads prevail, this may be one of the most alarming platforms I’ve ever ready (& yes, I really do read them). The document is loaded with inflammatory rhetoric – far more than usual – but in keeping with the tone that Trump has set for the campaign.
Much of the platform is in line with the 2012 version. This is not surprising, and I skipped over many of those similarities in my comments below. What is surprising, and concerning (and what I wish my Republican friends were paying attention to) are these fine points:
- In general, and as has increasingly been the case for the past 30 years, less federal government is good across the board – unless it involves abortion, homosexuality, unions, or anything else that either interferes with business or ‘religious freedom’ (as long as that religion is the correct type).
- An annual audit of the Federal Reserve – noting that that would require careful implementation to avoid the appearance of political pressure on a nonpolitical body.
- Endorsement of the First Amendment Defense Act, which isn’t remotely in defense of the First Amendment, but is in defense of fundamentalists using their ‘ sincerely held beliefs’ to freely discriminate.
- Continuation of the ‘money is free speech protect by the First Amendment’ logic that includes not only lifting limits on campaign contributions, but also elimination of what’s left of the Fairness Doctrine.
- Their desire to gut FATCA appears to be to ensure that US citizens keeping their money offshore won’t have to face much scrutiny – and will protect the money from forfeiture in the event that there might be a reason for the government to seize/freeze it.
- Protection of the Electoral College – without consideration for alternatives.
- Something that sounds suspiciously like a call for the US Forest Service to increase the commercial use of the resources, particular timber, that it controls.
- Union busting – or ‘right to work’ is still a big thing, as is the elimination of all of those pesky minimum wage, and workplace safety, laws that place an undue burden on businesses.
- Gutting the EPA, and, although many other laws apparently need to be adjusted to suit changing technology, apparently the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act are still perfect (because Congress, as we know, has demonstrated a remarkably poor understanding of, and appreciation for, environmental – or any other kind of – science)
- Oh, and kiss the National Parks good-bye – since it’s time to review all that public land and put it to better use. Although it may be necessary to protect some species and critical habitats (based of course on ‘sound science’ – however they are defining it)
- Climate change is not only not a priority, but the UN is a political entity, so we shouldn’t continue involvement in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change because it political and unreliable. The platform flatly rejects both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
- Rejection of the Supreme Court’s rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act, and their acceptance of marriage as anything other than between one man and one woman. In fact, once again proposing a constitutional amendment. There is also disturbing wording that every child ‘deserves’ a ‘married mom and dad’ – which I assume would also extend into divorces, custody, adoption, and foster care.
- In spite of medical opinion to the contrary, they are still opposed to the FDA’s approval of RU-486 (as a threat to women’s health, of course)
- Apparently, in a related vein, the Food and Drug Administration should go back to approving drugs & not regulating food, medical technology or vaping devices (because a drug like nicotine hardly counts as a drug)
- Oh – they do still oppose physician assisted suicide, and would like the DEA to handle enforcement.
- There’s an interesting bit about state’s regaining control of their prisons – but of course, so many of them are privatized that would be a challenge.
- Medicare changes would definitely be on the horizon, but there a distinct lack of clarity in the approach being proposed, but
- Privatizing Social Security is very definitely on the table (under the lable “Saving Social Security”).
- Apparently “rescuing” the internet does not mean what most of us that use the internet think it does.But then again, the “private sector” can always be relied on to maintain a free and open internet without concerning themselves with their bottom line. I’m assuming this is also a slap at net neutrality.
- Building a wall along the border is in here, too.
- Neuter most of the regulatory agencies by rather nebulously suggesting that they have a cap each year on the costs that the regulations impose on the economy per year.
- While arguing in one section that political spending equals free speech, they they spend time decrying crony capitalism in another. Pick one please. You can’t logically support both positions.
- They still oppose statehood for Washington, DC – because Congress takes such good care of them.
- Apparently they view Puerto Rico’s problems as having been entirely of their own making, requiring congressional rescue, but seem to have some unclear vision of Puerto Rico as becoming some sort of Caribbean paradise. And of course, statehood is always an option if the residents want it.
- Military spending will go up, but they spend a lot of time applauding themselves for how much they support the troops and the veterans. I assume that applies only to things that don’t require funding.
- Somehow they will restore our “credibility” in the Middle East. Apparently by giving their “unequivocal” support to Israel.
- They explicitly deviated from the 2012 platform by criticizing China (while making sure they covered their love for Taiwan first)
- Apparently unblocking Keystone XL will improve our relationship with Canada (or perhaps just the company that owns the pipeline)
- They are lukewarm on Cuba, but don’t actually want to say it that clearly.
- Oh – and they really still don’t like the UN.
Meme of the 1956 Republican Platform acquired on Facebook last year, but the origins are unknown.