Republicans love to talk about the importance of following the U.S. Constitution being the party of Lincoln. Judges and legislation are bound by the Constitution. This year the platform of the self-proclaimed party of Lincoln has seven pages—ten percent of the content—in a section called “A Rebirth of Constitutional Government” (aka revisionist constitutional theory).
This section of the GOP platform proclaims that government exists to protect “God-given, natural rights”; in any difference of opinion, God wins. One of these God-given “inalienable right that predates the Constitution” is “the right of individuals to keep and bear arms” as “a natural inalienable right that predates the Constitution.” Another God-given rights are “to devote resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports” (such as influencing elections), influence elections), to “set their own membership standards” free from anti-discrimination laws, and the “freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs” often when those beliefs call for defiance of the law, as examples of rights that are “not given to us by the government but are rights we inherently possess.”
The platform gets worse by completely invalidating the U.S. Constitution. “The government cannot use subsequent amendments to limit First Amendment rights.” Thus the GOP repudiates the way that legislators and judges are bound by the Constitution. Republican position is that Congress cannot propose and states cannot ratify, for example, a constitutional amendment overruling the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Republican Party’s position is that this amendment would be null and void.
“Inalienable” means “impossible to take away or give up.” Therefore Republicans state that rights that they consider inalienable cannot be changed through constitutional process and no more amendments with the slightest connection to the First Amendment—religion, free speech, and financing—can be made. Also “the unborn child” has an “inalienable right to life … which cannot be infringed.”
Stephen Rosenfeld has culled these excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.
- Tax cuts for the rich.
- Bank deregulation.
- Elimination of consumer protection.
- Repeal of environmental laws.
- Shrinking unions and union labor.
- Privatization of federal railway service.
- Freezing or elimination of federal minimum wage.
- Cuts in government salaries and benefits.
- Appointment of only anti-choice Supreme Court justices.
- Appointment of only anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices.
- Legalization of anti-LGBT discrimination.
- Christianity as a national religion.
- Greater campaign finance loopholes and dark money.
- Eliminate gun controls nationwide.
- An anti-choice constitutional amendment.
- Elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
- Permission to states in closure of abortion clinics.
- Opposition to stem cell scientific research.
- Condemnation of executive branch policy making.
- Retention of the electoral college.
- Requirement of citizenship documents for voter registration.
- Drawing congressional districts without consideration of undocumented immigrants.
- No labeling of GMO ingredients in food products.
- Work requirements for welfare recipients and cuts in food stamps.
- More oil and gas drilling on U.S. shores.
- Completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- Expansion of fracking and burying nuclear waste.
- No tax on carbon products.
- Disregard of global climate change agreements.
- Privatization of Medicare.
- State administration of Medicaid.
- No increase of Social Security benefits by taxing the rich.
- Repeal of Obamacare.
- Monopoly control by internet service providers.
- English as the official U.S. language.
- No amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
- Wall along U.S./Mexico border to keep immigrants out.
- Government verification of citizenship of all workers.
- Penalties for cities giving sanctuary to migrants.
- Puerto Rico a state but not Washington DC.
- Support of traditional marriage but no other families.
- Privatization of government services to fight poverty.
- Mandatory bible study in public schools.
- Replacement of public schools with privatized options.
- Permission of abstinence-only approaches in sex education.
- Privatized student loans without lowering interest rates.
- Restoration of the death penalty.
- Dramatic increase in the Pentagon budget.
- Cancelation of Iran nuclear treaty and expansion of U.S. nuclear arsenal.
- Reaffirmation support for Israel and elimination of sanctions movement as anti-Semitic.
And that’s just a few of the issues covered in the platform. The GOP shows itself to be pro-rape, pro-gold standard, and pro-“right-to-work” while being anti-national parks and anti-mass transit.
The less rabid members of the Republican party who don’t follow all these positions blithely say that no one reads the platform or pays any attention. Yet the platform is the wish list of GOP leaders for Congress; it’s what they think they want to do to the United States. This platform calls for a drastic military buildup when a large percentage of taxes already goes to the Pentagon. This policy, combined with the massive tax cuts that they call for, follows the first term of George W. Bush which led to trillions of dollars in deficit and a recession that still hurts the nation’s economy.
In his speech tonight, GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, called for the appointment of Supreme Court justices who will uphold the constitution, but the platform calls for justices who follow the GOP platform. During the convention, speakers consistently maintained that there is nothing progressive about the Democratic party, that it is the GOP that wants to move forward. In many ways, however, the platform resembles the conservative position of the mid-1800s except conservatives 150 years ago didn’t oppose abortion and immigration.
The theme of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) speech tonight is that “freedom matters.” He’s right, but his party’s platform wants to take away freedom for many people in the United States—no freedom for LGBT people to have the same rights as heterosexual people, no freedom for women to have reproductive health care, no freedom from poverty and illness, no freedom to have clean water and air, no freedom for equal internet use, no freedom for people with any skin color to travel safely wherever they want, no freedom for people other than strict “Christians.” In short, no freedom for all—just the entitled.
Of course, Cruz was booed at the end of his speech for not endorsing Donald Trump after he said that people should not stay away from the election in the fall and that they should vote their conviction. Then Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was escorted from the floor for her own safety. So much for GOP unity. Or maybe the entire situation was a set-up so that Cruz would make Mike Pence, who followed Cruz, look good.
As far as the platform and Donald Trump, however, anyone with sense knows that Trump won’t even read it—and he certainly won’t pay any attention to it. He only wants a wall between the United States and Mexico.