Yesterday the Democratic delegates in Philadelphia completed the first item of business of any political convention, approving the 2016 Democratic Party Platform.
Political party platforms are important—think of the platform as an organization’s mission-vision statement, a document that that clearly and strategically defines the organization’s fundamental values and guiding principles. And just as a mission-vision statement guides an organization and its employees’ actions, the platform defines for its members the party’s purpose, principles, and plan of action. When we cast a vote, we not only support a candidate, more importantly, we endorse a set of ideas.
Two weeks ago in Cleveland I attended the Republican Party Platform Committee meetings. That experience – watching serious conservative grassroots activists invest considerable time and intellectual energy debating and honing the guiding ideas of the 2016 Republican Party Platform – confirmed for me that in world of politics, candidates come and go, but it is the ideas that matter most.
When it comes to the ideas they embrace, the Republican and Democratic parties couldn’t be more different. In fact, the 2016 Democratic Party platform is more extreme and has shifted more radically to the left than ever before. Here are just two examples:
ABORTION: While the Republican Party Platform affirms the right to life from conception to natural death, the Democratic platform is seen to be its most extreme pro-abortion document ever. The Democratic Party has long supported legalized abortion on demand for any reason up until birth. This year’s platform goes even further, affirming opposition to any limits on abortion, calling for taxpayer funding for free abortions and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits direct taxpayer funding of most abortions and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1980. The Democratic Platform also states unequivocal support for continued taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, even in light of the body-parts scandal, and more recently, furor that the efforts to address the threat of the Zika virus were stopped because of the politics of Planned Parenthood. It is far from mere symbolism that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was prominently seated next to former President Bill Clinton during the first night of the convention.
ECONOMY: While the Republican Party recognizes the power and importance of a free market economy, calling for lower taxes and encouraging entrepreneurial innovation, the influence of Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is clear in the 2016 Democratic Platform. When it comes to the economy, the Democratic Platform focuses more on income inequality rather than economic growth, insisting on higher taxes, income redistribution, and an ever-increasing role of government in the American economy, rather than expanding opportunity, reducing red tape, and supporting economic innovation. For the first time, the Platform includes calls for a carbon tax, which many say would cripple any chance of economic growth and would likely devastate the economy.
These are just two examples of how the animating ideas of the Democratic and Republican parties are fundamentally at odds with each other. They take polar-opposite positions on a host of other issues, from national security and defense, immigration, the family, religious liberty, globalism vs. national interest, and many more.
But don’t take my word for it.
I challenge anyone – especially those disenchanted with the candidates at the top of the presidential tickets — to read each party’s platform in full before making up their mind on how to vote in November. Because, ultimately, it’s the ideas that matter most.