Although not officially completed, the news out of Tampa regarding the official platform of the Republican Party is making news already. This is an exercise in expressing the alleged values of the party which occurs every four years. In some instances, the Presidential candidate has explicitly rejected their party's platform; they are not beholden to it. However, it does serve to guide those lower on the political rung- the people actually making phone calls, filling envelopes and knocking on doors- the grassroots party members. It should rightfully be viewed as a broad-based statement of Republican values.
Since I have been following politics, I always remember two things about a party's convention. The first is a rules fight- a disagreement over some arcane rule regarding the nomination process or such. The second is a party platform fight or controversy. Neither major party is immune to either. In 2008, people watched as the rules committee of the DNC sat before the cameras and debated how to divide Clinton delegates in states that violated the party's primary schedule. In 1968, the DNC was torn apart in their party platform over the Vietnam War. Today, the lamestream media is abuzz over the Republican platform characterizing it as the "most conservative" in history.
Because it is not completed, there is not yet a copy of the platform on the Internet that I can find. However, there are numerous commentaries on several websites- liberal and conservative and everything in between- based upon the platform committee's proceedings in Tampa thus far. Probably because of a misstatement by Todd Akin of Missouri, the "plank" on abortion is garnering the most attention. Outlets like Thinkprogressive.com, the New York Times and Washington Post are making claims that the 2012 platform denies abortion in the case of rape or incest, that it calls for a "human life amendment," and that it seeks to extend the protections of the 14th Amendment to the unborn. They claim that the platform's proposals would deny federal funding to any service that offers abortion as a choice (such as Planned Parenthood).
Not to burst the "a-ha" moment of the lamestream media, I think it is useful to read the 2008 version of the party's platform. In the pertinent section, that platform states, "...we assert the inherent dignity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund any organization that advocates it." The 2008 platform does not mention exceptions for rape or incest, just as the 2012 platform will not mention it. That is, there is no difference between what is proposed in 2012 and what was adopted in 2008. If the 2012 platform is "the most conservative in history," as the detractors claim, then they are about four years late in their analysis.
The only reason this is even an issue at this juncture is because of Todd Akin's comments which have moved the abortion debate to the forefront for now. It is the media's cause du jour. However, a sober analysis, realistic analysis indicates that the platform (as concerns abortion) is no different in 2012 than it was in 2008. Absent Akin's comments, this would merely be a blurb in the press. Additionally, the 2012 platform, the media insists, will endorse state informed consent laws when it comes to abortion.
Several states currently have these laws on the books, or have proposed them. These include the "onerous" ultrasound requirements and such. A word here about these laws. The pro-life community and activists, as I have said in a previous entry, have clearly better adapted to the rules that the courts have dealt the issue of abortion. The pro-choice community basically advocates abortion on demand without restriction as a form of contraception that further pushes the boundaries up to the level of infanticide; thus, their opposition to bans on the absolutely hideous practice of partial-birth abortion. There is a growing body of irrefutable scientific evidence indicating that a developing "fetus" can feel pain at 20 weeks. There are several laws percolating in state legislatures that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Note that in none of these laws is the allegedly fundamental right to "terminate a pregnancy" infringed. That is, the pro-life community, while arguing for the abolition of Roe v. Wade have, nevertheless, lived within the parameters of that decision. With respect to the informed consent laws, which include literature, ultrasounds or waiting periods, of course there is the attempt to persuade the woman away from abortion. But, laws in other areas are designed to persuade people from behaviors or actions the government frowns upon. Provided it does not cross that line and infringe on a fundamental right- and we can debate whether the right to terminate a pregnancy is "fundamental," but we have to deal with the reality as it is- then the law will survive scrutiny. I have always found it somewhat hypocritical that liberals and Democrats will often demand labeling on food products in an effort to inform the consumer, but when something as infinitely more important like life is concerned, they shut the doors of information. We should know that our food was genetically modified, but we are to be ignorant of the fact that there is a human life in the uterus.
Further coverage of the platform asserts that it would deny even the option of civil unions as a "compromise" at the state level as concerns the issue of same-sex marriage. Again, there is really no qualitative difference from that alleged assertion and the 2008 platform which does not mention civil unions as an acceptable alternative. In fact, most of the language then- as now- asserts the rights of states to define marriage and applauds states that have passed legislative or constitutional bans on same sex marriage- including civil unions. Hence, this year's version of the Republican platform is no different than that in 2008. Again, if this is the "most conservative" platform in history, then the analysis is four years too late. The liberal analysis that the 2012 platform will be "the most extreme gay marriage" position on record is simply false.
In continuing with the alleged GOP assault on women, recent articles note that this year's platform would even lessen the role of women in the military and deny them combat duty. But, the 2008 platform asserts the same thing. Additionally, like 2008, this year's platform will likely lambast Obama for abandoning the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell- a policy openly endorsed by the 2008 platform.
Other assertions further indicate that the allegedly most conservative party platform in history is nothing more than an update of the 2008 platform in many areas. For example, like 2008, the platform will likely call for a two-thirds majority in either chamber of Congress to raise taxes, except in the case of war or an emergency. In fact, the 2008 platform calls for an overhaul of the entire tax code and asserts that the problem in Washington lies not in revenue collection, but in government spending. Hence, there will likely be planks stressing spending cuts and elimination of earmarking in bills, of posting proposed appropriation increases on-line before a vote, etc. Again, this will be nothing new or "most conservative." Some of it actually mirrors campaign promises made by Obama that he has failed to follow through on.
There are other issues like the GOP stance on immigration which called for greater workplace enforcement, use of E-Verify, and other such commonsense solutions to the problem. Where the liberal media has mentioned this part of the proposed 2012 platform is either emphasis on the inclusion of a guest-worker provision (which they applaud), or alternately, a support of Arizona-like immigration laws (which they pan). However, to reiterate once again, the Arizona law merely codifies at the state level what the federal government already is supposed to be doing. For example, the requirement that legal immigrants carry identification has been on the books since the 1950s.
Finally, the other "controversy" mentioned is a GOP nod to the Paulbots out there. The platform will allegedly call for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Perhaps someone can point me to such a provision in the 2008 platform, but I could not find it. That would be something new in 2012. However, say what you will about Ron Paul and this proposal, but it really is not such a bad idea. Given the role it plays in our national economy, an audit, at a minimum, would seem like yet another commonsense idea. The argument against this proposal is that an audit of the Federal Reserve would impinge upon the independence of this entity. After all, we do not "audit" the federal judiciary and its independence is vitally important to the functioning of government. There is a huge difference- the federal judiciary is constitutionally mandated while the Federal Reserve is not. The federal judiciary is an outgrowth of the requirements of the Constitution. As such, it afforded greater deference and independence if we are to remain a nation of people guided by laws. The Federal Reserve, on the other hand, is a legislative creation and should be subject to at least an audit, if nothing else.
In the end, this attack on the GOP platform amounts to much ado about very little. As has happened many times in the past, the Presidential candidate is free to disown parts of it, especially the operational specifics. That may explain why many platforms are broadly worded. Of course Romney is not going to get a personal manifesto embodied in the party's platform. But as far as the current characterizations in the liberal media of it being "the most conservative party platform in history" because it supports the traditional view of marriage or does not specifically state exceptions for rape or incest in the case of abortion, the same liberal media would be well-advised to read the 2008 platform. Why this is characterized as ultra-conservative versus the allegedly more rational embrace of gay marriage to be embodied in the Democratic platform says much about the state of the liberal media. To them, support of gay marriage or abortion rights fits their liberal agenda and therefore must be correct. It is that insular world of the liberal media that blinds them to the fact that there might just be other views out there and other solutions to problems. People like most of those on MSNBC, and at the Washington Post and New York Times should end the charade and just goose-step behind Obama and his agenda.