Bring up a party platform and you will get eye rolls, arm waves and dismissive shrugs. “Oh, that! Nobody pays attention to the platform.” It is true that none of us could recite passages from our favorite platform, though a few of us could hum along, but it is supposed to be the defining document of a party.
Last weekend, state Republicans met in Augusta to celebrate the past and prepare for the upcoming political year. The platform they approved contains standard elements of their party philosophy, but they also make a statement that might earn them the “pants on fire” award. Here it is (Section V, 3.): “Individuals are responsible for decisions affecting their lives and well-being.”
Two sections later Section VII, 5 supports “prohibiting the use of state funds for abortions or activities that run counter to the sanctity of human life.” In other words, their idea of sanctity trumps a woman’s sense of responsibility. Though the platform also asserts (Section III, 1) “the freedom of Mainers to … act in accordance with the dictates of their own consciences,” there’s an asterisk: Not you, sweetheart.
Of course, this Republican position is mitigated by their intention to support women who are denied legal abortion services with job training, child care, housing assistance, food benefits and an increase in the minimum wage. Not. Official Republican positions oppose all those services except in the most limited way.
How could they not? The platform calls for “eliminating Maine’s income tax” (Section IV, 6), support for “comprehensive welfare reform which offers a pathway to self-sufficiency” (read “cutting services,” Section V, 4) and for “prioritiz[ing] resources and services for the elderly and disabled.” Surely the women consigned to parenthood by the Republican Party should be prioritized for resources and services as well.
Republican support for individual freedom is further diminished in Section VII, 2 in which the party supports “defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” That would seem to be a decision “affecting [the] lives and well-being” of some Republicans, no? But it is a decision the party is making for you. Listen up: one man, one woman, or don’t be doing it.
The platform solemnly proclaims that the “integrity of the election process must be protected” (Section V, 6). That means the process, not the outcome. The outcome should not be protected. In fact, it should be spurned.
In Section V, 6, c, Republicans state their desire to “repeal ranked choice voting,” approved by the voters in 2016. It has been in and out of court ever since. Republican conventioneers unanimously adopted a rule requiring that, despite the new law, the current voting practice for their primary elections be retained, whereby candidates may win by a plurality. They backed that up with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Pity the poor RCV advocates. They have fought long and valiantly, winning a referendum and then another one, and a lawsuit, and now they are contemplating another. A new voting system would be difficult to implement under the best of circumstances. With all the nay-saying, delay, arguing and suing, it is quite likely the implementation of RCV will have some hiccups. The parties will declare victory, blaming it all on the new system, when they are the ones creating doubt in the mind of the voters and confusion about how it all works up to the very eve of Election Day.
Republican Party Director Jason Savage maintained the party has a right “to select our nominees the way we choose.” Well then, how about this? If you want to have your own rules, pay for your own primaries. As it stands, taxpayers absorb the cost of spring elections, which include the party primaries in an election year, even though over one-third (36.4 percent) of voters are not registered in any party.
If we have to support them financially, how about opening primary elections to all voters? Ixnay. Bills have been introduced many times to do this, but in a party-controlled Legislature they have about as much chance of surviving as the proverbial snowball in a hot place.
Let us not even begin on the subject of Republican support for family values (Section VII, 1), a subject about which the GOP has demonstrated little familiarity unless buying the silence of porn stars counts as protecting the family. To all this and much more, there has been barely a murmur from Republican leaders. Say what you will about other policy priorities but do not, we beseech you, lecture us on family values, for lo, it maketh us sick.
Democrats are teeing up for their convention on May 18 in Lewiston. They are energized by the politics of the day, but will they offer anything new or cling with limited success to their golden oldies? Stand by for further kibitzing.