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Chris Honoré: Democrats — the party of Lincoln

In a column regarding the Republican platform I stated that the GOP is now no longer the party of Lincoln or Eisenhower, but the party of Goldwater and Nixon.

After watching the Democratic convention and seeing the quilt of people gathered on the convention floor, and listening to the speeches, I turned to their platform, acknowledging that such documents, while canonized when completed, are rarely referred to again. At least not specifically.

After perusing its 51 pages, I realized that it was a window into the core values of the Democratic party, values that I concluded were far closer to those of Lincoln than those of today’s dystopian, vitriolic Republican Party as epitomized by Donald Trump.

Find below just a few of the platform’s aspirational highlights, which I believe make this point.

  • “The struggle with race is far from over and still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead and who gets left behind. We must face that reality and fix it by ending systemic racism and dismantling structures that define lasting racial, economic, political and social inequity.”
  • Diversity is not our problem but our strength. “Democrats respect differences of perspective and belief and we are proud of our heritage as a nation of immigrants.”
  • “We believe in protecting civil liberties, guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, the rights of the disabled and the LBGT community.”
  • “We condemn hate speech such as Islamaphobia or anti-Semitism.”
  • ”A good education is a basic right of all Americans, no matter their zip code. We will end the school-to-prison pipeline and build a cradle to college pipeline ... and at last make debt-free college a reality ... Working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to a public college or university.”
  • We must “overturn Citizens United and restore full power of the Voting Rights Act,” thereby returning the control of elections to the American people.
  • “The current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage, at least to $15 per hour.”
  • We must “protect and expand Social Security and we will fight any attempts to privatize or weaken Social Security including attempts to raise the retirement age.”
  • “The United States Postal Service is a national treasure and must continue to offer universal service and we reject all efforts to privatize or marginalize it.”
  • We must pursue an innovation agenda in “Science, Education and Technology.”
  • We are “committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the U.S., though America represents less than five percent of the world’s population.” We want to “reform mandatory prison sentences and close private prisons and detention centers.”
  • We must “abolish the death penalty.”
  • We advocate “removing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and prioritize treatment over incarceration regarding addiction.”
  • We must “fix our broken immigration system and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding people.”
  • “We reject a religious test for immigrants and refugees. It is un-American.”
  • “Climate change is an urgent and defining challenge of our time. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred in this century. While Donald Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ 2016 is on track to break global temperature records once more. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future.”
  • With 33,000 Americans dying every year (from gun violence) we will “expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws… and keep weapons of war off of our streets.”

Clearly, the contrast between the Republican platform and the platform of the Democrats is stark. For those moderate Republicans who view themselves as belonging to the party of Lincoln, this election represents a moral choice that is both wrenching and momentous. Let them choose wisely. As for Bernie’s followers: step forward. Please.

Chris Honoré of Ashland is a Daily Tidings columnist.