Perusing the platforms

Posted on September 7, 2012. Filed under: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columns |

Overshadowed by the razzle dazzle spectacle that political conventions have become are the party platforms, those manifestos that declare and spell out—for anybody willing to pay attention—all the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts policy intents and purposes.

The platforms this year make for some eye-opening reading, if you have your magnifying glass ready. The average skimmer will see nothing in the headlines amiss. The devil is where he always is: in the details.

On the grand scale of things, both parties espouse remarkably similar visions. Both platforms lead with jobs. Both praise a strong America, a cleaner environment, an improved healthcare system and real government reform. The divergences are natural and expected. Republicans see a faltering America that needs to return to constitutional government and fiscal responsibility, which is more limited. Democrats see a still-unjust America with much to be done that requires federal influence and money, which is more expansive.

Given their political track records, both platforms contain laughable hypocrisy, agreed. But get past the flowery feel-good stuff, and radical ideas are still radical by any other name.

Militant abortionism is repugnant to most Americans, including most Democrats. As recently as the last Democratic president, the stated party goal for abortion was that it be “safe, legal and rare.”

For 2012, forget rare. Radical pro-abortion activists have long cringed at the placating language anyway, and now the Democrats seem fine with taking an unconditional stand for abortion anytime.

Just a few paragraphs before the platform asserts the Second Amendment right to bear arms is “subject to reasonable regulation,” it unequivocally declares a woman’s right to an abortion to be absolute. The platform pledges to oppose “any and all efforts to weaken or undermine” abortion rights. Ever the party of illusory inclusion, the platform also unequivocally supports childbirth if that’s what a woman wants. Maybe in 2016 there’ll be a platform provision supporting our rights to eat, breathe and sleep, too.

And ever the party in denial about the root causes of crime and criminals, the platform manages in the Firearms section to espouse policy folly like reinstating the assault-weapon ban, and closing the gun-show loophole “so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

When will Dem leaders learn what crime victims on the ground already know? Namely, that the lawbreakers don’t wait for guns to fall into their hands; they go and steal them, or otherwise obtain them illegally. That’s why gun control legislation always fails to influence gun crime—because criminals don’t obey laws.

“You can’t legislate morality,” goes the old Democratic saw against laws intended to reinforce social virtues. But we’re supposed to believe we can legislate moral responsibility regarding guns . . . among criminals?

A good laugh serves well to break up long, wordy documents.

Under the Advancing Universal Values section, the next-to-last item boldly proclaims that “gay rights are human rights,” not just here but in every other nation, too. So the platform applauds President Barack Obama’s vow to “actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct or ignore abuse.”

It’s unclear whether that means worried parents of U.S. soldiers can add policing gay-unfriendly foreign countries to the “full range of missions” their sons and daughters must risk their lives for.

Here at home, the Democratic platform not only calls for same-sex equality and passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would compel the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, but also goes on to oppose the people’s will in federal or state constitutional amendments to the contrary. In short, there’s so little room for dissension on this issue that you’re either with Dems or they’re fine with losing you as a party member. That’s how these special interest groups leeching off the Democratic Party spell “tolerance.”

For a party that has welcomed trillion-dollar deficits and record national debt like an old friend come to call, it deftly avoids dealing with either in its platform, despite using a subhead that says “Reducing the Deficit.”

This section is highlighted by Obama’s deficit-reduction achievements, specifically his signing into law of $2 trillion in “tough spending cuts.” Rumors about out-of-control federal spending notwithstanding,the platform assures us that their approach will reduce domestic spending to a 50-year low, while still boosting benefits for the middle class and shrinking the deficit.

Who ever said platform committee members didn’t have the faith of a child?

Republicans are not immune from fantasy, either, as evidenced in the foreign-policy portion of the GOP platform, where once again the infamous Iranian nuclear bogeyman surfaced. The platform writers exercised restraint in not using ALL CAPS to drive home its message that Iran is now a threat not only to Israel and her Middle East neighbors, but to THE ENTIRE WORLD!

A wild-eyed despotic dictator from some banana republic couldn’t come across as much more paranoid.

Rousing convention speeches are one thing, but platforms exist for a reason. Even though they aren’t binding, they should be required reading.

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