The Republican platform is too large a document and covers too many issue areas for one person to dissect entirely. I covered my core competency by going through the housing plank. But for those who did have the time and resources to do a full overview, the picture becomes clear that this is a pretty extreme document that, contrary to the beliefs of a John Boehner, does have some import.
The new platform — with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government — shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time.
Subtitled “We Believe in America,” the platform keeps its focus on the party’s traditional support for low taxes, national security and social conservatism. And it delves into a number of politically charged issues. It calls state court decisions recognizing same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society,” opposes gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines,” supports the “public display of the Ten Commandments,” calls on the federal government to drop its lawsuits challenging state laws adopted to combat illegal immigration, and salutes the Republican governors and lawmakers who “saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the chairman of the party’s platform committee, described it as “a conservative vision of governance” in his speech at the convention.
More important, the political science research shows that the platforms do get converted into policy, or at least the attempt is made. One professor at Rutgers University found that victorious parties try to adopt their meaningful platform pledges 70% of the time. “Putting something into the party platform is a pledge that you’re going to do something about it,” Gerald Pomper told the New York Times.
Republicans are trying to downplay their platform – they didn’t release the text until after it was approved – because they don’t really want the country to know about their plans. But now they’ve been made pretty plain.
I can take you around the Web for some of the coverage. Josh Eidelson details the union-busting in the platform, including the support for a national right-to-work law. Brad Plumer runs down a series of other disparate items, including the opposition to the National Popular Vote plan (who knew it was a conservative value to oppose one person, one vote), a call to police universities for liberal bias, statehood for (currently Republican-governed) Puerto Rico but not the (currently Democratic-governed) District of Columbia, stepped-up enforcement of pornography, a reconsideration of the gold standard (already covered here) and this paean to wage slavery in American territories:
No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands. “The Pacific territories should have flexibility to determine the minimum wage, which has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.”
And that’s on top of the known platform planks about Medicare, abortion, pro-gun laws, abstinence-only education, and more. The trade plank is actually somewhat interesting in that it takes a hard line on China and actually bothers to mention currency manipulation, but seeing that John Boehner stopped a bill on similar territory that had majority support in the House and already passed the Senate, I’d say that will be one of the 30% of the planks that doesn’t see action. Then there’s just the stuff that’s clearly been put in to satisfy a donor, like the call for more production of domestic fertilizer.
It will be instructive to compare this platform to the Democratic one when it gets released next week.