Republican Platform Veers To The Right

Once again, the GOP platform is turning into a surrender to social conservatives on issues such as same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the proposed platform that Republican delegates will consider at next week’s Republican National Convention veers far to the right on a number of issues, but it’s unclear just how much of an impact this will have on the Presidential race itself:

CLEVELAND — Republicans moved on Tuesday toward adopting a staunchly conservative platform that takes a strict, traditionalist view of the family and child rearing, bars military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source and declares pornography a “public health crisis.”

It is a platform that at times seems to channel the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump — calling to “destroy ISIS,” belittling President Obama as weak and accusing his administration of inviting attacks from adversaries.

But the document positions itself far to the right of Mr. Trump’s beliefs in other places — and amounts to a rightward lurch even from the party’s hard-line platform in 2012 — especially as it addresses gay men, lesbians and transgender people.

As delegates debated in two marathon sessions here on Monday and Tuesday, they repeatedly rejected efforts by more moderate members of the platform committee to add language that would acknowledge or condemn anti-gay discrimination — something Mr. Trump has done himself.

The numerous additions to the platform on marriage, family, homosexuality and gender issues were a reflection of just how much society and the law have shifted since Republicans adopted their last platform four years ago. And the debate this week showed just how unsettled many Republicans remain with those changes.

In 2012, the Supreme Court had not yet ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right, and transgender rights had not yet become a matter of intense national discussion.

But while public and legal opinion has moved steadily in one direction, the official declaration of Republican Party principles appears to be heading sharply in the opposite direction. The party’s approach to social issues now threatens to disrupt the convention next week. Moderate delegates pushing for gay rights language in the platform secured enough signatures on Tuesday to demand a vote on their proposals from all 2,475 delegates.

Social conservatives in the party exerted significant influence over the drafting and amending of the platform this week, succeeding in almost all of their efforts to add language that pushed the document more to the right.

And what Republicans will probably end up with when they formally vote next week to ratify the platform approved in committee on Tuesday is a text that can seem almost Victorian in its moralizing and deeply critical of how the modern American family has evolved.

The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”

It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.”

(…)

[N]early every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. The platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and makes references to appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”

“Has a dead horse been beaten enough yet?” asked Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York, who chastised her colleagues for writing language offensive to gays into the platform “again and again and again.”

Additional provisions included those that promoted state laws to limit which restrooms transgender people could use, nodded to “conversion therapy” for gays by saying that parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference and stated that “natural marriage” between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.

On some level, of course, party platforms mean far less than meet the eye and usually aren’t the best guide for what kind of agenda a political party will be pursuing if they gain political power. The Republican platform, for example, has included provisions regarding Constitutional Amendments to overturn Roe v. Wade or ban same-sex marriage and yet no such provision has even made it on the agenda of a relevant committee since the House gained control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. In no small part, this is because the leadership in both bodies knows that such measures would never get anywhere close to the votes needed to pass and that even the mere attempt to do so would at this point cause more political headaches for the party than they are worth. More often than not, these provisions end up in platforms because party leadership lets it happen as something of a consolation prize to the conservative wing of the party, which would likely get upset if language such as this were stripped from the platform since it would be the final sign that they really have lost the culture war battle they claim to be fighting.

Notwithstanding the fact that party platform’s are somewhat meaningless, the fact that the GOP continues to advocate policy positions that are out of step with the American public is something that ought to concern any Republican who actually wants to win elections. Support for same-sex marriage, for example, has surpassed  60% in polling that has taken place in the year since the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges. Additionally, polling has shown solid support for the rights of transgender Americans, a position opposed to that apparently being taken in the new platform. At some point, one has to believe that a party platform that is out of step with the public as a whole is going to have an impact on elections. To some extent, we have seen that in the fact that younger voters seem to have largely written off the GOP due to its stance on social issues. Since those voters are literally the future, that’s something the GOP ought to be worried about. Instead, they’re acting as if it’s still 2004 and they can get away with pandering to the social conservatives that are, arguably, becoming an increasingly less relevant portion of the electorate.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    They were worried that Trump hadn’t offended everybody, and that there might be a potential for Hillary-hater crossover. By using the most reactionary platform possible they ensure that they’re a 40% party in every aspect possible.

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    “The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating,”

    And they can pass out GOP Bibles at the convention door to thump while Trump is speaking..

  3. KM says:

    More often than not, these provisions end up in platforms because party leadership lets it happen as something of a consolation prize to the conservative wing of the party, which would likely get upset if language such as this were stripped from the platform since it would be the final sign that they really have lost the culture war battle they claim to be fighting.

    Except they’re not settling for the consolation prize anymore. The PTB view it as a cheap tactic to get their votes without doing anything; the base views it as an explicit promise that *will* be carried out. Trump’s failure to uphold the masquerade is evidence that the base really really wants to just DGAF and just go for it. They feel used by the system; conditioning has lead them to believe liberals are the source of their woes but they do unconsciously realize their own party is screwing with them. Cheap words in a platform (no matter how dramatic) aren’t going to be enough – they want action and they’re willing to burn it all down to get it.

  4. CSK says:

    My guess is that they included this language in the platform because a) they’re resigned to losing, and b) they can later claim that they gave the so-cons exactly what they wanted, and lost big time, which proves that so-con issues are losing issues instead of the overwhelming winners so-cons think they are.

    In any case, a lot of so-called so-cons seem happily willing to abandon their alleged deepest convictions to support Trump. I recall the hate they heaped on Romney because they claimed he was pro-gay and pro-abortion. But Trump, who changed his position on abortion three times in a single afternoon and who stated that Caitlyn Jenner was welcome to use any restroom in Trump Tower she chose, they worship. Well, we know what that’s about: Trump promised to build that wall. Nothing else matters. Show me a so-con Trump supporter and I’ll show you a sleazy hypocrite.

  5. Pete S says:

    @Mu:

    They were worried that Trump hadn’t offended everybody,

    Yes, they needed to complete the full package of offensiveness in an effort to guarantee an election loss. A Democratic President is the gift that keeps on giving for Republican fundraising.

    @Mark Ivey:

    And they can pass out GOP Bibles at the convention door to thump while Trump is speaking..

    Are the GOP bibles the ones which have the phrase “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” x-ed out in crayon?

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “In any case, a lot of so-called so-cons seem happily willing to abandon their alleged deepest convictions to support Trump.”

    This. Trump is the walking embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins. He hits them all, and is proud of it. And yet, many of the same people who proclaim that “Character Matters” are willing to overlook that and support him.

  7. Slugger says:

    Sincere question to social conservatives: Recognizing that it has only been a short time, are there any objective harms from extending marriage to include gay people?

  8. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Indeed. Trump could be a coprophiliac devil-worshiping serial killer with halitosis and piles and they’d still adore him. I’ll give the man this much: He sure knows how to run a scam.

  9. Mu says:

    @Moosebreath: Looking at the pictures for the last 50 years he seems to have avoided gluttony. But 6 out of 7 ain’t bad.

  10. Tyrell says:

    So we have two platforms that are way out in right field, and left field.* I don’t know how much the voters really look and take the platforms. I do not remember the platforms of years past. Most people are going to go by what they see on tv.And I am wary of most news networks.
    * These party leaders need some good baseball advice: if you play too deep, you will get burned !

  11. Moosebreath says:

    @Mu:

    “Looking at the pictures for the last 50 years he seems to have avoided gluttony.”

    Only by comparison to Chris Christie. Not to the rest of the world.

  12. KM says:

    @Mu:

    Looking at the pictures for the last 50 years he seems to have avoided gluttony. But 6 out of 7 ain’t bad.

    Technically he hasn’t. Gluttony is not just being fat; that’s they symptom, not the cause. It’s excess in eating, extravagance and decadence in terms of food. I highly doubt someone who demands the best in everything skimps on the food aspect of his life. If he’s picky about where his overpriced steak comes from and demands certain kinds of limited-quantity wine, he’s a glutton. Just not an overly chubby example.

    He retains his title of Walking Billboard of the Seven Deadlies.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    THE PLATFORM VEERS RIGHT????
    The entire Republican Party is so far off to the right that even folks that are right-of-center look like radical extremist lefties to them.

  14. Pch101 says:

    Those who are hoping that Trump or a November blowout will provide some sort of wake-up call to the GOP are in for a big disappointment. It’s not as if the wingnuts are going to suddenly hear the angels sing, have their grand epiphany and stop being wingnuts.

  15. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    No. But they might retreat off the public stage and shut up if their hopes are resoundingly crushed.

  16. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    That’s not how wingnuts operate. When they lose, they blame everyone but themselves for their failings and double down on their alleged principles.

  17. barbintheboonies says:

    The hypocrites always go back to the old stand by’s. They know it will never win the majority but it will appease the crazy religious fanatics. They are running scared. It really burns me up how they can put down the extremist Muslims and cater to extremist Christians. Both are haters and have no place in our government. Maybe they don’t care if they lose this time. Maybe the best that money can buy is just not good enough and this is a wake up call to all This is not a game. Get some new blood preferably blood that hasn’t inbreed too long. Take money out of the equation and maybe we will get a candidate that all Americans can rally around. Somebody who genuinely cares about America.

  18. al-Alameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    So we have two platforms that are way out in right field, and left field.*

    Seriously, what, in the Democratic Party platform, is “way out in … left field”?

  19. ptfe says:

    @Pch101: “Shake harder, boy!”

    Agreed. The very concept of being wrong because your views were just too odious doesn’t enter into the extremist’s mindset. If you lose because of your principles, it’s because other people aren’t enthusiastic enough; if you win in spite of them, it’s because everyone else agrees with you.

    The wingnuts won’t shuffle offstage in shame and they won’t exit the Republican Party, no matter how bad the defeat in November. The only way this was an intentional move is if there’s a significant group of Republicans who think they can make a completely new, successful party — it will have to have a different name — that doesn’t include the crazies. And since we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of this beast, I doubt it’s in the offing.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: THE END OF AMERICA!!!!! HELLFIRE AND DAMNATION!!!

  21. Pch101 says:

    @ptfe:

    The only way this was an intentional move is if there’s a significant group of Republicans who think they can make a completely new, successful party

    I can’t agree with that. Third parties don’t work in the US; the base of power within the GOP would have to shift at the expense of the populist ideologues.

    This would be painful because it would probably mean that the GOP loses the House for awhile — if Southern Republicans were to split off, then you could end up with a sort of George Wallace 1968 effect but one that hurts the GOP instead of the Dems.

    However, it would be a better strategy over the long run for the GOP to position the party as one that has a conservative veneer but that takes positions on certain issues that allow it to poach some Democrats — less abortion and homophobia, more small business/jobs/economy rhetoric. Isolate the wingnuts who will have no one — the Dems won’t take them in — while eroding elements of the Democratic base.

    Ideologues make for poor bedfellows because they are uncompromising and zealous, which makes them stubborn and untrustworthy. Populists are worse because they’re impractical and are more eager than they are bright. It was a convenient relationship for a time when Reagan knew how to tame them, but it was destined to go off the rails as it has now.

  22. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Slugger: Yes, it continues the nation on its anarchistic path toward total lawlessness and runs the risk of bringing divine judgement on our society.

  23. Franklin says:

    This is the type of thing that happens when you stop even listening to people you disagree with.

  24. Jen says:

    The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”

    This sort of thing drives me nuts. Not only does it ignore establishment clause issues with this, it of course assumes “religion=Christianity.” And then they start yelping about Sharia law. Pot, meet kettle.

    On the platform issue, Vox recently ran an article where political scientists were interviewed, and one who had studied platforms said that of all of the clearly identifiable promises made in platforms, legislators proposed and voted for legislation matching those commitments 80% of the time. This, of course, does not mean that the legislation passed, but it does appear to indicate that platforms aren’t just an empty string of wish-list items from activists. Legislators actually do seem to conform to their planks by *proposing* legislation that matches them–the “case for pessimism” folks point out that if it doesn’t pass, NBD.

  25. Moosebreath says:

    @Jen:

    “it of course assumes “religion=Christianity.””

    And not just any version of Christianity. I somehow suspect that they would not be willing to accept legislation which conforms to the teachings of Quakerism or Unitarian Christianity.

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Jen:

    The wingnuts are too busy misinterpreting Article 1 Section 8 and Amendment 2 to get around to reading Article 6:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    I suppose that the founders should have stuck to using one-syllable words. Perhaps a comic book format would have helped.

  27. SKI says:

    @Jen:

    On the platform issue, Vox recently ran an article where political scientists were interviewed, and one who had studied platforms said that of all of the clearly identifiable promises made in platforms, legislators proposed and voted for legislation matching those commitments 80% of the time. This, of course, does not mean that the legislation passed, but it does appear to indicate that platforms aren’t just an empty string of wish-list items from activists. Legislators actually do seem to conform to their planks by *proposing* legislation that matches them–the “case for pessimism” folks point out that if it doesn’t pass, NBD.

    Yup, was about to post a link to that study myself.

    While it would be nice to believe, as Doug does, that the platform doesn’t matter, the reality is that it does. That it sets the guidelines/baseline for legislation expectations.

  28. steve s says:

    Was GWB drunk at that memorial service?

  29. Tyrell says:

    @Pch101: Southern Republicans : please don’t forget us Southern Democrats. We are still around.

    Ervin, Johnson, Hollings, Nunn, Long, Fulbright, Russell, Johnson, Carter

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu: What @Moosebreath: said. I’m betting Christie or Gingrich for veep ’cause they make Trump look almost normal by comparison. Otherwise, look carefully at the man, he’s huge. On the other hand, whoever does his tailoring is really, really good.

  31. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    Ervin, Johnson, Hollings, Nunn, Long, Fulbright, Russell, Johnson, Carter

    Ervin – dead for 3 decades.
    Johnson – dead for 4 decades.
    Nunn – out of office for 20 years
    Fulbright – Out of office for 4 decades, dead for 2.sen
    Hollings – out of office for over a decade, but was Strom Thurmond’s right hand man. We would do well to ignore him.
    Russell – Dead for nearly half a century
    Long – Do you mean Huey Long? And if so, are you f*cking serious?
    Carter – out of office for 40 years.

    So…no, I would say your conception of a southern Democrat doesn’t really exist anymore.

    I CAN think of two Democrat from the deep south who have done a remarkably good job of working on a wide range of issues that affects all Americans–northern and southern alike. Their names are Hillary and Bill Clinton.

  32. Scott says:

    @Tyrell: Hang in there, Tyrell. The Southern Democrat just might rise again.

  33. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Tyrell: Funny how every single Southern Democrat you listed is / was a white man.

  34. Surreal American says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    John Lewis is my idea of a Southern Democrat.

  35. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Surreal American:

    A hundred thumbs ups.

  36. James Pearce says:

    @steve s:

    Was GWB drunk at that memorial service?

    Nah, he was just being GWB. Remember “Now watch this putt?”

    I will say this, though. We should all be willing to forgive his weird dancing. He showed up (when he’s been pretty much out of the spotlight for years), shared the stage with Obama, held hands with Michelle, and he spoke eloquently on the issue.

    He doesn’t have the standing anymore for that to mean much, but it means something.

  37. JKB says:

    Well, the Democrat platform is going hard left with full bore redistribution

    Just goes to show how useless the platforms are for the actual presidential candidates. Down ballot may have problems.

  38. JKB says:

    Hillary, the driving force in the Democratic party and the third term of Obama, is attached to the Democratic Party’s platform. After all, the big story is how she controls the delegates.

    On the other hand, Trump hasn’t been big in controlling the Republican convention or party platform. His ignoring the Republican platform will be seen as him being something different.

  39. Mikey says:

    @JKB: Wouldn’t Trump ignoring the Republican platform be seen as a betrayal by the Republican base that’s responsible for his rise to the nomination?

    I mean, a major part of Trump’s appeal is that he’s not supposed to be one of those promise-but-never-deliver RINOs the GOP base hates so much. Will they tolerate him turning into one? That’s not the “different” they want, is it?

  40. Scott F says:

    @JKB:

    If modest proposals like infrastructure investment, expansion of profit-sharing, additional paid family leave, and measures to make college education more affordable represent “full bore redistribution”, the Communists got it terribly wrong.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @JKB:

    His (Trump’s) ignoring the Republican platform will be seen as him being something different.

    Yes, incompetent.

  42. gVOR08 says:

    CBS is reportingTrump’s picked Pence.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    Reports are out that Trump is picking Mike Pence as his running mate.
    Pence is one of the dumbest guys I have ever heard talk. Just flat out stupid. Bush was intellectually lazy and un-curious. Pence is just dumb.
    Does anyone else remember Obama making Pence look like an idiot during that Republican Retreat in 2010? I was embarrassed for Pence. It was almost as bad as when Obama made Trump look the fool during that Correspondents dinner.
    Apparently Indiana can’t wait to be rid of him. In Pence, Trump gets a guy that is right out of the 1800’s in social views. And a resident of Republican fantasy land when it comes to economics.

  44. Jen says:

    @gVOR08: Yep. Multiple outlets reporting the same.

    Not sure this does much for Trump. Pence seems dull.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: Trump presumably wanted an established GOP to lend credibility to his campaign. Pence was as close as he could get. Pence has the president bug, and this probably really is the best shot open to him.

  46. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jen:

    Yeah, but the establishment wants dull, and the Christianists want someone who has sufficiently hated on the gays. Pence checks both those boxes.

  47. Jen says:

    What the actual heck is this? Palin can’t make it to the convention because Alaska is far away?

    This gets weirder by the minute. While I’m sure that Reince said “please, don’t come” this is a bizarre explanation.

  48. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Agreed.

    @gVOR08: Also agreed.

    Manafort & Co. are still insisting that the decision hasn’t been made and that the announcement will be in NYC tomorrow. Still an outside chance this is a head fake from the master showman.

  49. Frank Q. says:

    What are the chances he just leaked the name, tries to see how everyone likes him, and then goes with someone else? I mean, this is one reason you publish candidates, but Trump is the kind of guy that would fuck someone like Pence over with such a head fake.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    Well, the Democrat platform is going hard left with full bore redistribution

    I’m dying to hear which plank of the Democratic platform you feel qualifies as “full bore redistribution”. I’m sure it will make my week.