At a recent campaign stop, Paul Ryan repeated a common conservative talking point in this election: “Government’s job is not to pick winners and losers in the economy.” No, but apparently Republicans think it’s their job to pick winners and losers in society more broadly — which is exactly what their new party platform does.
Republicans apparently welcome an expansive and intrusive role for government in engineering and re-engineering our social norms and relationships. Nowhere is that more clear than in the proposed 2012 Republican Party platform, which one platform committee member boasted is “the most conservative platform in modern history”. Here’s a look at who should win and who should lose in America, according to the Republican Party:
Losers: Gay people
The Republican platform committee rejected the input of gay Republican groups and embraced the extremist language of conservative hate groups to write that the battle over marriage equality is “an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values”. And rather than hiding behind a feigned moderate position that gay rights issues should be left to the states, the draft platform activists “applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so”. The Party also embraces altering the United States Constitution to take away rights from loving, same-sex couples. The platform section then goes on to insult not only gay families but single-parent households before ending with an ironic assertion that “all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity” — an assertion wholly undercut by the platform itself.
Winners: Fertilized eggs
While the Republican Party platform would take rights away from loving gay couples, the party would give more rights to fertilized eggs — promoting a constitutional “personhood” amendment to declare that, at the moment of conception, a microscopic fetus has the same legal rights and protections as living, breathing human being. The consequence of such a measure would be to not only to ban all abortions but restrict certain forms of birth control and fertility treatments and, potentially, subject women who even inquire about abortion services to criminal penalties. And despite the fact that over three-quarters of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or some cases, the Republican Party platform bans all abortions outright with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Losers: Women in the military
Not only are women directly affected by the Republican platform’s draconian, anti-choice positions, the draft platform condemns “social experimentation” in the military and would move to keep women soldiers off the front lines of combat. Notably, the platform committee tried to paint this as an effort to protect women’s rights: “We support the advancement of women in the military…[and] We support women’s exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.” It’s very kind of the Republican Party to want to support women to not get hurt by bumping their heads on the glass ceiling of opportunity by, benevolently, moving opportunities for women further out of reach.
Winners: Military contractors
Apparently not reluctant to “socially engineer” the United States Constitution, the Republican Party platform endorses a constitutional amendment that would make it infinitely more difficult, if not impossible, for our government to raise taxes. Yet, while the anti-choice amendment does not include any exceptions in cases of rape or incest, the tax amendment does include an exception — for military spending. And so while the Republican Party wants to downgrade the rights and liberties of women who have been raped and gay couples, it wants to protect the ability of military contractors (and donors) to bilk taxpayers. How else would the supposedly deficit-cutting GOP be able to propose increasing defense spending during a recession, as Paul Ryan does in his House budget plan.
Of course, if you don’t allow the government to raise taxes — ever — then it becomes hard to pay for vital public services like police and firefighters, for which many cities and states rely on federal spending to subsidize. This is a problem for unemployment, which despite over 29 months of consistent private sector job growth, has remained high largely because of public sector layoffs. What’s more, especially in tough economic times, not only are Americans more reliant on public spending like food stamps and unemployment checks, but cutting public jobs means cutting the spending that those workers put into our communities and small businesses. But certainly, in the wake of so many mass shooting incidents, Republicans must see the need for police and first responders who can make sure our kids get to school safely without needing to pack heat, right? Wrong…
Winners: Gun vigilantes
Although many police oppose so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, the GOP platform embraces such laws and supports federal legislation to extend carry laws. And, in a sign that conservatives are more allegiant to ideology than facts, the head of the Family Research Council secured a plank in the Republican platform that would expand gun rights in the District of Columbia — in spite of the fact that the FRC was the recent target of a shooting. While even the vast majority of NRA members and other gun owners support basic, common sense gun laws, the Republican platform would put more guns in more people’s hands and let them use them in more legal ways — and yet limit the number of cops ensuring public safety.
In the Republican Party vision for the future of America, there are very clear winners and losers. This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t a misrepresentation. This is the draft Republican Party platform, the clearest statement of the party’s priorities, crafted by its most prominent and celebrated leaders. If Republicans really object to government picking winners and losers, they should stop enshrining social castes in their party platform. And if Republicans really object to being labeled extremists, they should stop pursuing such an extremist agenda.