Republican platform lags behind country

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Conservative Party of New York PresidentialConvention, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in New York. (Evan Vucci/AP)

At the Republican National Convention in July, the GOP released its party platform, a formal set of policy positions supported by the party. With Donald Trump generally keeping to the sidelines, the document produced was extremely conservative in nature, especially with regard to social issues. The beliefs and goals stated in the platform are in many cases regressive and far behind where most in the country stand.

Take LGBT rights, for example. Donald Trump, to his credit, had voiced support for allowing transgender people to use the bathroom they identify with. He initially opposed the discriminatory bill passed in North Carolina earlier in the year, although he has since changed his position to support allowing states to decide on this issue. Likewise, the Republican platform promotes state laws to limit which bathrooms transgender people can use. This is widely regarded as state-sponsored discrimination, which is generally frowned upon.

One section encouraged “conversion therapy” for gays, saying that parents should be free to make medical decisions about the practice without interference. You know, because being homosexual is a choice and we should give parents an opportunity to fix those poor people at a young age. In addition, one incredibly insulting section states that “natural marriage” between a man and a woman is most likely to result in children who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged. Or as Stephen Colbert put it, “If you have two dads you have two heroes and no heroine, so you’ll turn to heroin.” To save the children from the drugs, Republicans plan to overturn the Supreme Court gay marriage decision. Despite the fact that the party had its first openly gay platform member and most of the country has moved on, a majority of the delegates still are obsessed with defeating the homosexual agenda.   

Another platform proposal took aim at federally owned land such as national parks and forests. The provision calls for an immediate full-scale disposal of “certain” public lands, without defining which lands it would apply to. This could leave wilderness areas and wildlife refuges vulnerable to potential development or privatization. Considering the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by anti-government terrorists was aimed at this exact issue, it is surprising and disheartening that the GOP would side with the views of dangerous extremists. These actions put areas of land that need to be protected and preserved at unnecessary risk.

In other environmental news, coal was declared as “an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.” If one of those adjectives seems a bit out of place, it’s because coal is not a clean energy source. Alternative sources like wind and solar power are leaps and bounds ahead of coal in terms of limiting harmful environmental impact.

The platform also attacked pornography, declaring it a public health crisis. While something like child pornography should certainly be opposed, to say that pornography in general is destroying “millions of lives” seems like a bit of an overstatement originating from religious hardliner delegates. Another provision 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.” Concepts such as the separation of church and state stand directly in contrast to such a proposal. Any religious curriculum set by the federal government would have to cover multiple major religions to pass legal muster.

Part of the problem with the platform is that the GOP is attaching itself to losing battles. Gay marriage isn’t getting overturned, and even if Republicans managed to do it, they’d anger many more people than they would please. Calling coal “clean” will continue to encourage the belief that the GOP can’t form responsible environmental policy. And going out of their way to insult homosexual parents will gain them little favor with an electorate that is growing more supportive and tolerant of such a notion, especially among young voters. If Republicans continue to maintain hardline conservative stances on issues the country has long since progressed on, they will face an increasingly hostile electorate and only worsen the gridlock in our government.


Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at jacob.kowalski@uconn.edu.