By Tom Cushing
Where we stand, so far apartUploaded: Aug 5, 2016
Okay, so this blog will Not be about the disarray in the Republican Party, what with Reince Priebus “apoplectic”, Sen. McCain justifiably offended and Mr. Ryan unendorsed. We’ve covered that territory earlier, in GOPocalypse Now. Nor will it attempt to decode Le petit Orange (hereinafter LpO) : Deciphering the Short-fingered Vulgarian -- been there, or his ongoing appeal to his supporters' Compositional Amenities – done that.
This epistle won’t even speculate on rumors that he will quit this race like a stale marriage or an over-ripe casino – except to wonder, as he would, about what then happens to all those $millions in in-kind ‘loans’ he’s made to his campaign for which he expects reimbursement from … somebody. They’re no doubt Yuge! -- those planes and choppers haven’t flown themselves. Can you imagine the lawsuit blizzard if he either leaves the field, or gets un-nominated? It’s wondrous to contemplate, but I have a lesser goal in-mind.
I want to compare party platforms. Why (in the world)? Well, beyond being able to claim slogging rights for actually having read them, they are predictive of trends, and of how the respective partisans are likely to vote on issues (an 80% correlation, says one commentator). Given the aberrational nature of the standard-bearers – with Hillary being yanked lefterly, and LpO yanking us hither-and-yon by the hour, the platforms are the surest roadmaps to where the two major parties are headed.
They have very little in-common, on social issues, domestic or foreign policy. Uh-oh – the beat goes on. Here’s a sampling:
Climate Change: The Dems say that it “poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security and our children’s health and futures.” The GOP sees it as a tolerance issue, dubious that change is occurring, dismissive of the science as ‘political,’ and calling for fairness toward the remaining scientists who are skeptical – both of them. It also identifies coal as a ‘clean energy source.’ It may be tropical at the poles before there is true consensus ‘twixt the partisans.
Immigration: The Republicans embraced LpO’s call for a wall, but somehow stopped short of endorsing deportation for eleven million undocumented immigrants. The Dems made no mention of a wall, and would favor a comprehensive overhaul of the law, including a pathway to citizenship for folks already here.
Speaking of Walls, regarding their Street, the GOP called current and future banking regulations an excuse to establish “unprecedented government controls over the nation’s financial markets.” Dems would prefer a return to prior precedents regarding Big Finance controls, and add a few new ones to cover innovations designed primarily to separate dupees from their savings and returns.
Minimum Wage: Dems want $15/hour, plus indexing for inflation. The GOP favors the current $7.25 floor, and would leave any variations to state and local discretion in higher cost areas.
Culture Issues: The parties remain polar opposites, with the GOP condemning abortion in all instances and calling for a Constitutional Amendment to that effect, decrying same sex marriage and supporting the religious liberty of merchants to refuse service based on their convictions. The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights caucus within the party, called it “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history.” The Dems applaud the constitutional right ‘to marry the person you love,’ and will seek to ban discrimination against LGBTQs in employment, housing and other areas expressly covered for other groups by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Campaign Finance: The Dems called for overturning the Citizens United decision, while the GOP called for an end to remaining contribution restrictions, and advocated that outside groups’ donor identities be allowed to be anonymous.
Voting: the GOP endorsed efforts at the state level to impose ID requirements on voters, and opposed DOJ ‘bullying’ (recently, consistently successful – more on that in another blog) to overturn them. The Dems pledge to fight further efforts to abridge the ‘fundamental right to vote.’
Healthcare: the Dems vow to support the ACA and push efforts to get states to expand Medicaid coverage (majority of those remaining uninsured would thereby be covered). The GOP would repeal the ACA, expand interstate competition among insurers and flip Medicare into a private system, or limit its coverage.
The greater sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken: the GOP would pluck these birds off the endangered species list. The Dems somehow remained silent on the issue.
Both platforms reflect influences within the parties, as the Berners pushed for various progressive planks, and evangelicals, free marketeers and even the sagebrushers got licks-in on the GOP side.
There are nods to the Trumpians, as well, but the GOP document swings fair to the right of its nominee on numerous issues. Both also appear to shortchange the larger points on income inequity.
Further, this Republican platform is most notable for its implied repudiation of the RNC’s post-2012 ‘autopsy’ report, which called for outreach to minorities and young people in a kinder-gentler party way. Instead, this year’s edition hardened positions that hearken back to a bygone America, and seem unlikely to appeal to majorities of present and future voters.
If present trends continue through November (much could change – to paraphrase: Don’t gloat – VOTE!), this Republican Party can scapegoat its aberrational nominee. In so doing, it may doom itself to broader losses in ensuing elections.
So, the next time somebody tells you that there's no difference between the two major parties -- show 'em this blog.