Alien sentiments from the Democrats’ Mothership.
Democrats gathering in Charlotte may have initially neglected to mention God in their platform. They didn’t forget to include the devil. The document namedrops Mitt Romney 22 times. His demonic sponsors—the “rich,” the “wealthy,” the “millionaires,” and the “billionaires”—also get 22 mentions. When you don’t have anything to run on, run down the opposition.
Democrats grasp what they stand against. Knowing, or at least letting everyone else know, what they support is more complicated. The point of an election is to attract votes, after all, not scare them away.
Take President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The muted mentions of ObamaCare in the document suggest that the Charlotte party goers understand that America doesn’t care for the legislation the way Obama does. So the platform declares that “Democrats stand willing to work with anyone to improve the law where necessary.” They concede, “No law is perfect.” Can anyone imagine Franklin Roosevelt shying away from the New Deal, Lyndon Johnson censoring mentions of Great Society, or Ronald Reagan running from his tax cuts in such a cowardly fashion? The centerpiece of Obama’s legislative program is not the centerpiece of his reelection platform.
Elsewhere, the platform advertises the out-of-this-world alienation. America just isn’t interested in the ideas with which Democrats are obsessed. Reiterating support for the ancient Equal Rights Amendment—Why not bimetallism or the single tax?—making an obligatory condemnation of African warlord Joseph Kony, and including language on LGBT youth seems the rote stuff of nonbinding student senate resolutions, not of a national political party outlining what policies it realistically seeks to pursue. What stirs the passions at the convention is at the periphery outside of it.
The platform boasts that Obama’s “State Department is funding a program that finances gay rights organizations to combat discrimination, violence, and other abuses.” It reaffirms the party’s support for DC statehood—and the two extra Democratic Senators that will come with it. The platform holds, “The American citizens who live in Washington, DC, like the citizens of the 50 states, should have full and equal congressional rights and the right to have the laws and budget of their government respected without congressional interference.”
The platform hits its most strident tone in tackling an issue irrelevant to the lives of most voters. “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay,” the platform notes. “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” The party didn’t always speak with one voice on the divisive issue. Forty years ago, the Democratic Party Platform treated abortion the way they treat God now. They left it out. In 1976, when the word first gets mentioned in a Democratic platform, Democrats acknowledged “religious and ethical” objections to the procedure. By 1988, the party had declared abortion a “fundamental right” deserving of public subsidy. The last quarter century hasn’t seen an alteration to that plank. Abortion über alles.
Party platforms, like politicians without a “stop” button (see Joe Biden), generally undermine what they set out to accomplish. They make observers see party people more as pod people than everyday people. The Republican Party’s recent plank encouraging a federal crackdown on pornography and obscenity shows that the Democrats don’t have the market cornered on proclamations divorced from reality. And past Democratic platforms obsessing over acid rain and the ozone layer shows that this current platform isn’t alone in championing idiotic crusades. Thankfully, for the parties’ sake, the platforms tend to be tediously long and extremely boring. Voters not reading them might not be good for America. It is good for Democrats and Republicans.
As far as the Charlotte convention offering a coherent contrast with its adversaries on a guiding philosophical principle, this comes closest: “We are bound by a shared set of ideals and values rooted in the notion that we are greater together; that our collective efforts produce something better than the sum of our individual actions.”
Earthling translation? Stop being an individual and get in the pod.
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