Aristotle, the father of science, thought that nature could best be understood by observation and reason. Not only did he apply the scientific method to the physical world, but he also considered political systems. One of his conclusions was that a democracy could not function well without a strong middle class. Aristotle was also strongly opposed to sophistry. Both of those are things that our politicians need to keep in mind.
After a number of push polls to try to influence their constituencies’ opinions, Republican leaders have managed to get many of their most extreme positions into the Republican platform. Republicans have tried to create a coalition of one issue voters, and there is a plank in there for each of them. Some the planks are more extreme than even Romney would have liked, and they seem more to reflect Paul Ryan’s views.
Economy: The plan for job creation is “economic growth”– and to stimulate economic growth the platform requires a further reduction in taxes. The plan is to keep the Bush tax cuts, eliminate taxes on capital gains for the middle class, pass a balanced budget amendment and require a supermajority for any future tax increases . Grover Norquist and most millionaires will be very pleased with that plank. The middle class may not be so happy because little of their income is from interest and capital gains. Then, there’s a problem of how to fund government programs, but other planks are going to eliminate many of those, especially those that help the disadvantaged and the middle class.
Social Issues: The platform is loaded up with social issues. It calls for a constitutional amendment defining marriage, claims life begins at fertilization, and seeks to make abortions difficult to obtain, no matter the circumstances. It would not fund any health care that covered abortions. And, that would include most forms of birth control under that definition of when life begins. It also declares that only abstinence education be permitted, and that would likely greatly increase the needs for abortions – as that doesn’t work too well in practice. And in spite of the large number of public massacres that have occurred lately, it is opposed to banning high-capacity clips or assault rifles.
Minorities: It declares; “Voter fraud is a political poison”, although there are very few instances of voter fraud. It appears to be an attempt to justify the Republican Party’s attempt to disenfranchise a large number of minority voters. It takes a hard line on immigration, even for those born here who are children of immigrants. It rather forgets that most of us were originally immigrants and that President Reagan granted amnesty to almost 3 million illegal immigrants. It would prohibit federal lawsuits against states that make restrictive immigration laws, even though those laws might interfere with citizens’ rights or violate human rights.
Energy: The energy plank does not recognize the need to protect the environment, which Republicans in the past strongly supported, nor does it recognize the realities of climate change. It would give almost free rein to fossil fuel companies to pursue their interests without regard to environmental issues and it would restrict the EPA from taking action to protect the environment. It does mention an “all of the above” energy policy, but there is no specific mention of policies to encourage the development of alternate energy sources.
Health and Welfare: The plank on health care would be disastrous for the middle class. It would repeal most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, while promising to promote the free market and give you more choices. That is fine if you have plenty of money. There’s a lot of verbiage associated with Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid but it all boils down to changing them in ways that would cost less money and make them much less effective. It says, “the platform pledges to move both Medicare and Medicaid away from ‘the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model.’” And, it supports a “ Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice.” Is that a description of vouchers?
Defense: This plank sounds a lot like saber rattling. It would restore “American exceptionalism” and take a hard stance toward North Korea, Iran, and China (China?). That would greatly increase military spending, particularly if we started another war. Our last Republican President started two, and we are still suffering from the loss of lives and the staggering cost. We already spend five times as much as any other country on defense, and there is no plank explaining where the money would come from without raising taxes. Nor is it clear how it might work out to have as Comander-in-Chief someone who sat out the Vietnam War in France on a rather easily obtained “divinity student” deferment.
I think many traditional Republicans will be rather dismayed with the platform and it remains to be seen if they will still support the party and vote for its candidates. Certainly the wealthy and the one issue voters can be counted on, but it would appear to alienate many independents. Sometimes reason prevails and political parties do not follow their platform too precisely, and that is the most that we can hope for if Mr. Romney is elected president.
(c) 2012 J.C. Moore