The Republican Convention has begun, and with that, their 2016 Party Platform document has been released. Weighing in at only fifty-four pages I’m pretty proud of them for keeping it short. I know that not everyone has the time to read these things for fun, so I did it for you, and will make sure that you have the important parts right here to look at. I should be able to knock these out in only twenty-eight pages, so you get to do half the reading!
Feel free to thank me.
Page i - Preamble “We affirm - as did the Declaration of Independence: that all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Unless, of course, you’re gay, or Muslim, or belong to a minority group. “We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant.” Does that include the three-fifths clause? Guessing by your current rhetoric it may. “The men and women of our military remain the world’s best. They have been short-changed in numbers, equipment, and benefits by a Commander in Chief who treats the Armed Forces and our veterans as a necessary inconvenience.” Well, I mean, not to get all technical, but doesn’t Congress, which is currently controlled in both houses by the Republican party, write the budget and determine Pentagon procurements? Under President Obama the Navy is currently building 12 new ballistic missile submarines, procurement for the F-35 is up to nearly 100 each year (from 30). President Obama, despite winning a Nobel Prize for his talks about disarming, has reduced our nuclear inventory by only ten percent (GWB reduced it by nearly fifty percent). The current VA spending bill is the largest in history, and was passed through a bipartisan Congress that accomplished very little, but did get that done. “They have nearly doubled the size of the National Debt.” Again, back to who writes the budget, people. Finally, and this is a topic I’ve written on before, stop blaming the sitting President for the National Debt! Just stop! A majority of new debt is because we have to borrow money to pay interest on the OLD DEBT… So stop, I beg of you. You look ignorant. Page 1 - Restoring the American Dream Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs “President Obama and his party will set a record of being the first modern President ever to leave office without a single calendar year of three percent economic growth.” I’m not quite sure what they mean by “modern” President, but this half-truth deserves some thought. In 41 years of divided government “normal” economic growth comes in at about 2.3%. So, while the President will be below the 3% we all would love, divided government has a history of not working. That said, President Obama will leave office right around the divided government average… Also, if you’re curious, in 41 years of Democratic control, average GDP growth is 5.2%, while in the eight years Republicans were in total control, the average annual GDP growth is only 1.2%. Want more numbers? http://politicsthatwork.com/graphs/gdp-growth-by-party You should take a look at that if the economy is a primary motivator for how you vote. Also, a common barometer for economic recovery is a comparison between the US and the original members of NATO. President Obama has performed there as well. http://politicsthatwork.com/graphs/gdp-growth-vs-nato-president Page 2 - Our Tax Principles “American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rates.” Chad and the United Arab Emirates both have higher corporate tax rates. Of course, that’s only talking about the statutory rate, which isn’t the rate that anyone pays. After we take deductions into account we end up with an effective rate that is estimated at 27.9%. That places it 15th among the the 189 countries measured. Page 2 - A Winning Trade Policy “We cannot allow China to continue its currency manipulation, exclusion of US products from government purchases, and subsidization of Chinese companies to thwart American imports.” I’m going to want to come back to this, but I had to laugh at the part about subsidizing, as the United States currently subsidizes businesses in this country to the tune of about $6,000 per taxpayer family. Nike has received more than $2B (two billion dollars) in subsidies.
Chrysler and Ford have each received more than two billion dollars. General Motors got three billion. Boeing has received more than THIRTEEN BILLION in our money, and still regularly takes states hostages by threatening to leave. The US trade deficit with China was $343B. That’s a bummer, but are Americans ready to pay more for action figures and DVDs at Wal-Mart? Finally, lets not forget something really important. When you’re trading with a county, you’re not shooting at it. The Chinese work force is more than 700 million people, out of their 1.3B population. I like when they’re working, making things for us to buy at Wal-Mart. It means they’re not shooting at us. Page 8 - Reducing the Federal Debt “Our national debt is a burden on our economy and families. The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations. A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.” That’s the entire section, presented all at once without me interrupting it. You see, the national debt is bad. I think we all agree on that. But, if we actually do our research we know that we can’t blame the current administration because that’s a downright lie. I’m all for spending restraint, but the Republican-led Congress hasn’t actually shown any desire to do that. They keep spending and spending, something both parties share blame on. Finally, imposing a firm cap on future debt could be disastrous, and leave the country in a place where it does not have the financial wherewithal to accomplish something of vital importance. Page 9 - A Rebirth of Constitutional Government We the People “We denounce bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance.” Donald Trump has twice been sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to minorities. Donald Trump refused to disavow support from David Duke, and lied about knowing who he was. Donald Trump came out and said that a Black Lives Matter protester deserved to get roughed up at a campaign rally. Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals”. Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims in the country. Donald Trump stood in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition and said, “I’m a good negotiator, like you people.” I find it hard to believe that your party denounces bigotry and racism while your standard-bearer sets the standard for bigoted remarks. Page 10 - The Judiciary “We also affirm the wisdom of President George Washington’s warning to avoid foreign entanglements and unnecessary alliances.” So, I get it. Back when President Washington was in the White House it took months to get a letter to Louis XVI. Now we have telephones and 24 hour cable news. Isolationism doesn’t work. President Truman warned us in his 1949 SOTU address that the forces of Democracy and Communism were locked in a dangerous struggle. While the forces on each side may not be the same, the struggle continues, and an attack on one of our allies should still be construed as an attack on us all. Page 11 - Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary “In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court twisted the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment beyond recognition.” So, I am neither a constitutional scholar, nor a lawyer. I just like to read the darn thing for fun because I have no friends. That said, the 14th does include the Due Process Clause, which prohibits state and local government from depriving persons of liberty without legislative authorization. It also has the Equal Protection Clause, which requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people. Now, nowhere does the Constitution use the word marriage that I can remember. So, I think this interpretation of the Fourteenth is fair to all citizens, and anything else is homophobic and bigoted. Page 11 - The First Amendment: Religious Liberty “Ongoing attempts to compel individuals, businesses, and institutions of faith to transgress their beliefs are part of a misguided effort to undermine religion and drive it from the public square.” No, actually, they’re efforts to end intolerance on the basis of religion. Because you disagree with a person’s life choices on the basis of your religion should not prevent you from serving them a damn coffee. Sorry, profanity. This one kind of has me up in arms. Page 12 - Still Religious Liberty “We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage…” So, this section is actually about religious liberty for Christians? The Ten Commandments of the Torah are not the same as the Ten Commandments of the Catholic Catechism, which are not the same as the Ten Commandments of Luther’s Large Catechism. Which ones are we posting? Page 12 - The First Amendment: Constitutionally Protected Speech “We oppose any restrictions or conditions that would discourage citizens from participating in the public square or limit their ability to promote their ideas, such as requiring private organizations to disclose their donors to the government.” Yup, we oppose campaign limits, because rich donors should be able to secretly give us all the money they want, and the rest of the citizenry has zero right to know who bought us or how much they paid. “We support repeal of federal restrictions on political parties in McCain-Feingold, raising or repealing contribution limits, protecting the political speech of advocacy groups, corporations, and labor unions, and protecting political speech on the internet.” Darn that bipartisan campaign finance reform bill! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipartisan_Campaign_Reform_Act Page 13 - The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.” No. Just no. You see, I do not believe that unborn infants can survive on their own any more than a corporation can. Personhood in both these cases is flat-out wrong. “We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts.” So, earlier, in a section I didn’t get disgusted by, this document mentions the importance of scientific progress, but then here completely discounts the scientific importance of these practices. We’ve talked about abortion before. I’m a forty-something dude, I’m not having an abortion ever, and I will never support making something illegal and unsafe when I would never have to be subjected to the illegal and unsafe version of it. “Because of their opposition to simple abortion clinic safety procedures, support for taxpayer-funded abortion, and rejection of pregnancy resource centers that provide abortion alternatives, the old Clinton mantra of “safe, legal, and rare” has been reduced to just “legal.” So, your official party platform seems like a really good time to lie, right? I mean, why not tell the truth here? What could be the harm? Oh yeah, the harm is in the truth not fitting your narrative. According to reports from 47 state health agencies, the CDC reported fewer than 700,000 abortions in 2012 (the latest data I could find). That’s the lowest number since tracking began in 1973. The Guttmacher Institute surveys clinics directly, unlike the CDC, and includes the missing states; California, New Hampshire, and Maryland. They estimate 1,060,000 abortions in that year, also the lowest rate on record. For the CDC that means 13.2 abortions for every 1,000 women between 15 and 44 years of age. That’s half what it was in 1980. There were 210 abortions for every 1,000 live births in 2012, that number was 364 per 1,000 in 1984. Safe, legal, and rare is correct, but that doesn’t fit the narrative. Page 16 - Honest Elections and the Electoral College “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact…” I wanted to stop there. You see, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is spiffy, bringing the right to elect the President directly to the people by promising to allocate our Electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote. So far we’ve seen ten states and the District pass laws; Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Rhode Island, and New York. They account for 165 Electoral Votes, of the 270 needed. The ten states (and DC) have promised the full effect of the compact when it has enough members to reach 270 electoral votes, thereby guaranteeing they can pick the president by just following their policy to vote for the national winner. You’ll notice that all the members are reliably blue states, which is weird to me because 60% of people who identify as Republicans think this is a good idea, and therefore the Platform here is out of touch with their own members. Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania all have currently active bills to join the Compact, accounting for 53 more electoral votes. That gets the compact to 218. If you’re a local reader, Colorado HB 1299 was the most recent attempt to get us involved. It passed the House and was never voted on in the Senate. Boo. Page 16 - Honest Elections and the Right to Vote “We pledge to protect the voting rights of every citizen…” (From Wikipedia, because it was handy…) Florida: The effect of Florida’s law is such that in 2014 more than one in ten Floridians - and nearly one in four African-Americans - are shut out of polls because of felony convictions. Kentucky: Only the governor can reinstate the individual voting rights of a convicted felon. Wyoming: After serving their entire sentence, including any probation and parole, a convicted felon must wait five years before they can apply to have their suffrage restored. In the 2012 national elections these laws kept more than five and a half million people from voting, mostly in Republican controlled states. Their actions and their rhetoric don’t seem to match up here. Page 23 - Balancing the Budget “The current Administration’s refusal to work with Republicans took our National Debt from $10 trillion to nearly $19 trillion today.” In 2015 we spent 6% of the Federal Budget paying interest on past national debt. That 6% is relatively small in the grand scheme of required spending, smaller than Social Security and Medicare, and smaller than some of our discretionary spending, like Defense (18%), but its still significant. The largest contributor to growth in the National Debt is money borrowed to pay interest. The annual interest due on the debt has doubled since 1988. Paying the National Debt MUST be a priority, but no one is willing to tell us the truth. We need a national sales tax designed to do nothing but pay the principal on the National Debt. I propose a one percent tax on everything we buy; that’s a dime on ten bucks folks. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 127,006,000 (about 127 million) consumer units (families, households, however you want to look at it) will spend an average of $53,496 per unit. So, let’s take 127,006,000 times $53,496.00. We get $6,794,312,976,000 being spent by Americans... That’s nearly $6.8 TRILLION dollars spent. If we pay my taxes on that we’re talking one dime for every ten dollars of stuff you buy. That means a $20 DVD costs you $20.20. What does that really raise? Well, we go $6.8 trillion times .01 and get $70 billion in taxes annually. Now, that doesn’t even cover the interest on the debt, but we continue to pay interest the way we currently do, and use that money just to pay principal. The plan doesn’t pay anything quickly, but it starts to move the needle in the right direction. It means paying seventy billion off the debt in year one, lowering interest payments, and making future payments easier. Why won’t it happen? Oh yes, because the Republicans will never support a tax of any kind. Page 25 - Immigration and the Rule of Law “…we support English as the nation’s official language, a unifying force essential for the advancement of immigrant communities and our nation as a whole.” Remember that part about denouncing bigotry and racism? I do. I didn’t believe them when they wrote it. Page 26 - Immigration and the Rule of Law “That is why we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry. The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” This is real funny to me when they just got done writing about being the party of fiscal responsibility. They want to build a wall, but they can’t possibly be dumb enough to think that Mexico will pay for it, so where is the money coming from? Page 27 - Advancing Term Limits “Our national platform has repeatedly endorsed term limits for Members of Congress.” Now, this is, strictly speaking, true. They have endorsed term limits in the past; six terms in Congress or two terms in the Senate, twelve total years in both cases. US Term Limits, the largest private organization pushing for congressional term limits, didn’t even support this law. The average term for a Supreme Court Justice, a life-tenured position, is only twelve years. There was also no law that prevented people from still being career politicians, serving twelve years in the House followed by twelve in the Senate. Those aren’t real term limits, and to pretend they are is just sad. Page 31 - Marriage, Family, and Society “…the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman. Its daily lessons - cooperation, patience, mutual respect, responsibility, self-reliance - are fundamental to the order and progress of our Republic.” Yuck. This is so close-minded that I can’t get past the word “evil” when I think about it. For being the freedom loving party (really, they are, just read the platform) it seems they only love your freedom to be like them. Page 33 - Education: A Chance for Every Child “A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry…” Wait…just wait. I can’t even finish that sentence. Is this designed so I can better understand Leviticus 20:13 and how it better fits into the previous section I was writing about here? Page 40 - Ensuring Safe Neighborhoods: Criminal Justice and Prison Reform “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying millions of lives.” This is clearly a case of crying wolf. Let’s save the word crisis for time-sensitive and life-threatening things, please? Zika is a crisis. Ebola was a crisis. Katrina was a crisis. Research does show that porn use is linked to having more sexual partners, which I guess fits into the moral crisis theme of the GOP. Page 41 - American Resurgence A Dangerous World “We are the party of peace through strength.” Iraq War - President Bush (43)(Republican) War in Afghanistan - President Bush (43)(Republican) War in Kosovo - President Clinton (Democrat) Persian Gulf War - President Bush (41)(Republican) The party of peace through strength continues to start wars, so I have problems putting their rhetoric next to their actions. Page 42 - Confronting the Dangers “We must fund, develop, and deploy a multi-layered missile defense system.” Since Project Nike in the 1950s we’ve played with this idea. President Reagan gave us Strategic Defense Initiative, which we all called “Star Wars” to make fun of it. In 2009 President Obama gave us Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, putting missile defense sites directly onto United States Navy warships. We spent $53 billion dollars a year on these things from 2004 to 2009, which made it the single largest line-item in the DOD budget. Paying for this is inconsistent with making American safer. If we get nuked, it won’t be by a missile, it’ll be by a radical with a suitcase wandering the streets of New York. Most of the next ten pages are inoffensive, expressing support for Israel and our military, while badmouthing our allies in NATO and the members of the UN. (That part is offensive, but not so much that I want to make fun of them for it, because we are sometimes too beholden to the desires of the UN and we do pay a lot of money into it. I don’t always disagree with the GOP.) Wrap The GOP Party Platform document veers hard to the right, appealing to a religious view of conservatism that is more and more outdated each four years. This hard right in their policy initiatives comes as a stark contrast after the Romney Autopsy which was released in 2012. That document called for reboot, a rebrand, and a rethinking of the GOP after Romney’s loss in 2012. That document, called the Growth and Opportunity Project, detailed a vision of a GOP that was inclusive to women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and the LGBTQ community. It called for an immigration reform package. Sally Bradshaw, a GOP strategist, said the party needed to “stop talking to itself”, which is exactly what this platform does. So, after talking about all the things they needed to do after the 2012 loss, the GOP went the opposite direction in nearly every way. This platform is so hard right that it immediately alienates social moderates who don’t believe in a country under the rule of God. As a matter of fact, having read both the 2012 autopsy and the 2016 platform I feel like exactly one thing came true from that 2012 autopsy. In it, Priebus said he didn’t want to see August conventions anymore, and he got that done, as we’re seeing in a July convention now. Donald Trump is unqualified to be the President of the United States. The Grand Old Party is out of touch with modern Americans, and this Platform is a push toward the past, and a marginalizing of women, minorities, and those with alternative lifestyles. We deserve better. This candidate, this plan, is wrong for America.