Chris Honoré: The Republican platform, 2016
As I write this, the Republican convention awaits Donald Trump’s speech wherein he will accept his party’s nomination. His address will attempt to create cohesion for a fractured party marred by chaos and vitriolic anger, not just on the convention floor but throughout the Republican primary.
Over the last three days, there have been, of course, gossipy, schadenfreude moments that were head-shaking: Donald’s “air kiss,” directed at Mike Pence’s forehead at the conclusion of Pence’s acceptance speech; Melania’s plagiarized speech, lifted, in part, from Michele Obama’s 2008 Democratic convention address; the thumbs-down, booing rejection of Ted Cruz, who was given a prime time speaking slot and then failed to endorse Donald, clearly exacting his retribution for the primary denigration of his wife and the accusation by Donald that his father was complicit in the assassination of JFK.
Unfortunately, lost in the weeds of the endless testimonials was any discussion by the media of the Republican platform, a 66-page policy document that begs close scrutiny. It’s surprisingly retro, created from the geography of the far right and a collective demonstration that the GOP is no longer the party of Lincoln or Eisenhower, but of Goldwater and Nixon.
Find below some highlights.
On abortion: “We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life ... We support a human life amendment to the Constitution ... to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.” This amendment to the Constitution would make abortion illegal and nowhere does this plank include any exceptions for rape or incest or danger to the life of the mother.
Regarding Obergefell v. Hodges, the case heard by the Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage, the Republican plank states, ”Five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman ... and we urge its reversal.” As well, “We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go against their religious views.” Read, the LGBT community. The plank also makes the astonishing statement that “Children raised in a traditional two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage.”
The 2016 platform also argues for the repeal of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches or synagogues, from making political endorsements, which is consistent with our nation’s belief in the separation of church and state.
Regarding guns and gun control: This plank reiterates the Republican position regarding the right to carry a gun and opposes “ill-conceived” laws regarding magazine capacity or any ban on the sale of the “modern rifle,” a euphemism for the AR-15. “We condemn frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers ... and we oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners.” This plank was crafted in the shadow of Dallas, Orlando, San Bernardino and Baton Rouge, to name but a few recent mass killings where a weapon of war was used to inflict incalculable harm.
And there is the environmental plank. “The central fact of any environmental policy is that year by year, the environment is improving. Our air and waterways are much healthier than they were a few decades ago. As a nation we have drastically reduced pollution ... and avoided ecological degradation. Even if no additional controls are added, air pollution will continue to decline for the next several decades ... These successes become a challenge for ... environmental extremists who must reach farther and demand more to sustain the illusion of environmental crisis.” A breathtaking statement.
And there is, of course, immigration. “We support the building of a wall along our southern border and protecting all points of entry.” I found no mention in the platform of shipping 11 million undocumented immigrants back to Mexico, a stand-alone Trump position that should be disqualifying, without mentioning the ban on all Muslims.
All of the above excerpts were crafted despite the GOP’s post-2012 election “autopsy” white paper, which emphasized forward-leaning inclusivity. But that was then and this is now, and The Donald is now.
Chris Honoré of Ashland is a Daily Tidings columnist.