The Republican National Convention released its platform in Tampa with House Speaker John Boehner, who is arguably the most prominent member of the party, admitting out loud that his party’s strategy for winning in November doesn’t include Black and Latino voters. As a matter of fact, he hopes they won’t vote at all.
“This election is about economics. … These groups have been hit the hardest,” Boehner said. “They may not show up and vote for our candidate, but I’d suggest to you, they won’t show up and vote for the president either.”
On Tuesday, the Republican Party approved their 2012 platform, which seeks to undo years of legislation protecting reproductive choice, marriage equality, disability rights, affirmative action, education, immigration reform and voting rights.
The platform takes the following positions:
On abortion — “We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” Such an amendment would ban all abortion in the United States.
On same-sex marriage — “We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.”
On women’s rights and disability rights — “It is all the more important that the Congress ... shall reject agreements whose long-range impact on the American family is ominous or unclear. These include the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty ...”
On affirmative action — “... we reject preferences, quotas and set-asides as the best or sole methods through which fairness can be achieved, whether in government, education, or corporate boardrooms... Merit, ability, aptitude, and results should be the factors that determine advancement in our society.”
On education — “We support options for learning, including home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, ... We renew our call for replacing ‘family planning’ programs for teens with abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior.”
On immigration reform — “Illegal immigration undermines those benefits and affects U.S. workers... we oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it. State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked. The pending Department of Justice lawsuits against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah must be dismissed immediately.”
On voter identification laws — “For the same reason, we applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud, particularly with regard to registration and absentee ballots. We support State laws that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against a significant and growing form of voter fraud.”
The new platform calls for the reshaping of Medicare as well, to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage. The many calls to shrink the size and scope of government shows just how far to the right the party has shifted in both tone and substance since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980.
Subtitled “We Believe in America,” the platform keeps its focus on the party’s traditional support for low taxes, national security and social conservatism. And it delves into a number of politically charged issues. It calls state court decisions recognizing same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society.” It salutes the Republican governors and lawmakers who “saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.”
Mitt Romney, like most recent Republican nominees, has noted that he supports certain exceptions to his party’s proposed sweeping ban on abortion: he told CBS News that he favors exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when the health or life of the mother is endangered. And this week Boehner pointedly asked, “Have you ever met anybody who has read the party platform?”
But some political scientists say that party platforms do matter. Gerald M. Pomper, a professor emeritus of political science at Rutgers University, studied meaningful platform pledges from 1944 to 1976 — and later updated his work by looking at the 1990s — and found that winning political parties try to redeem roughly 70 percent of their concrete platform pledges. Pomper said his work found that party platforms should not be casually dismissed as meaningless.
“It seemed strange to me that people would have fights over platforms and would put in a lot of effort to try to influence them if they didn’t mean anything,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “If they didn’t, why were practical people fighting over this? Putting something into the party platform is a pledge that you’re going to do something about it.”
This year’s Republican platform contains several planks that were sought by supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, whose insurgent Republican presidential campaign energized a new generation of libertarians. It calls for an annual audit of the Federal Reserve, and for forming a commission to “investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar” along the lines of a commission that was established three decades ago to study — and wound up opposing — a return to the gold standard.
The proposal to reshape Medicare, as Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, have proposed, is now enshrined in the party platform.
Their plan would change the program for those under 55 so they would receive a fixed amount of money to purchase health coverage from private insurers, or a traditional Medicare plan. “While retaining the option of traditional Medicare in competition with private plans, we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice,” the platform states.
The platform also suggests raising the age at which people can receive Medicare. “Without disadvantaging retirees or those nearing retirement, the age eligibility for Medicare must be made more realistic in terms of today’s longer life span,” it says.
President Obama and his policies are critiqued at length in the platform, which calls for repealing his health care law and criticizes his administration for leaking details of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
“We give the current president credit for maintaining his predecessor’s quiet determination and planning to bring to justice the man behind the 9/11 attack on America, but he has tolerated publicizing the details of the operation to kill the leader of Al Qaeda,” the platform reads.
GOP Platform 2012 and The New York Times contributed to this report.
Zack Burgess is an enterprise writer for The Tribune. Contact him at zackburgess.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zackburgess1.