When all is said and done, Obama and Biden, McCain and Palin, are the servants of the parties and ideas they represent.
Personalities in this election matter less than party platforms.
The Republican and Democratic conventions, the profusions and biases of the name brand media, the various twirling dervishes of spin, the nameless name callers, and the stiletto wielding anonymous hate cranks of the blogs have distracted us all from the realities of this and any election.
It’s a candidate’s view of the world that molds their actions. Candidates’ histories and experience, no matter how fascinating they are, will inevitably be put to the service of their parties’ agendas.
The issues matter more than the candidates.
The best way to cut through the miasma of hype and opinion is to examine those agendas as they are explained in political party platforms.
Platforms are like new year’s resolutions, sincere, revealing, and rarely followed to the letter. It’s hard for a party to be held accountable to its platform because hardly anyone has read it.
But in this extraordinary election season, one in which Republicans are running tacitly against their own president, and their own nearly eight years of absolute political power, with or without a Congressional majority, when Democrats are generally so muted as to appear docile and gun shy, and when pundits and sages say that issues don’t matter, but the message does, the platforms are the best maps we have to find out what’s really going on.
I’ll concentrate on where the Republican and Democratic platforms stand on women’s rights, as I think this is a key indicator, and has a huge impact on the people of New Mexico. In our state, one out of four children live in poverty and half of all the families in poverty are headed by a single mother who struggles not only with an unfair tax burden, but the brutal subtleties of gender discrimination.
As near as I can tell, both sides are quite clear on their positions regarding women. Granted, I look at the platforms from my own perspective. I see the Democratic platform on women’s rights as a admirable feminist document. The Republican platform on women, it seems to me, is an after thought, more about control than equality and liberation.
Here’s how the platforms read.
The Democratic platform has an entire section on “Opportunity for Women,” and deals with other major feminist issues in another section on “Children and Families.” The Republican Platform has no section that addresses women’s issues specifically. They deal with women mostly in the section entitled “Preserving Our Values.”
The Democratic Platform reads in part:
– “We believe that our daughters should have the same opportunities as our sons. We will pass the ‘Lilly Ledbetter Act,’ which will make it easier to combat pay discrimination; we will pass the Fair Pay Act; and we will modernize the Equal Pay Act.”
– “We will expand the Family and Medical Leave Act….We will invest in women-owned businesses and remove the capital gains tax on start up small businesses. We will support women in math and science….We recognize that women are the majority of adults who make the minimum wage, and are particularly hard-hit by recession and poverty….we will increase the minimum wage…[and] work to combat violence against women.”
– “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right…..{The party} also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs to pre-and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption support.”
– “We are committed to ensuring full equality for women; we reaffirm our support for the Equality Rights Amendment, recommit to enforcing Title IX, and will urge passage of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
On women’s issues, the Republican Platform reads in part:
– “We consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability or national origin to be immoral, and we will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes.”
– “Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual life which cannot be infringed….We all have a moral obligation to assist, not penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives….”
– “Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a women, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it…..Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act….”
– “In our multiethnic nation, everyone – immigrants and native-born alike – must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women.”
“Generations after the end of slavery in America, new forms of bondage have emerged to exploit men, women, and children….We advocate the establishment of an Inter-Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking…and call for increased diplomatic efforts with foreign governments that have been negligent toward this evil.”
In a section on “Protecting Our Families,” we find no mention of women’s issues, rather subheadings that read “Stopping Online Child Predators and Ending Child Pornography,” “Internet Gambling,” “Ridding the nation of Criminal Street Gangs,” “Locking up Criminals,” “Reforming Prisons and Serving Families,” “Protecting Law Enforcement Officers,” “Improving Law Enforcement,” and “Building a Health Care System for Future Emergencies,” which deals with stockpiling medicines and vaccines.
Voters have been focused for months on the vagaries of personality, background, and association. We’ve been forced to endure fantastic lies. We’ve been inundated with trickery, sarcasm, and foul venom. The antidote is to download the party platforms, or find them in libraries, and see for ourselves.