"The Platform is the Party's contract with the people."
Ralph Nader, October 4, 2003
"The Platform is the Party's contract with the people." This noble sentiment has been used by both Republicans and Democrats in characterizing their state and national party Platforms over the decades. It can become an embarrassing yardstick for any Party that lives a double life.
Consider President Bush and his Texas State Republican Platform of 2002 which is still in effect. The authors and endorsers of this lengthy document were taking no chances. It says crisply that each "Republican candidate for a public or Party office shall be provided a current copy of the Party platform at the time of filing. The candidate shall be asked to read and initial each page of the platform and sign a statement affirming he/she has read the entire platform."
Signing on the dotted line is connected with the Party giving the candidate financial and other support.
Then follows policy after policy of great specificity in direct opposition to what the Bush Administration is doing and not doing. For example, the Texas Republican Party demands that Washington repeal NAFTA and GATT and get out of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. It is adamant against any gathering, accumulation and dissemination of personal data and information on law-abiding citizens by business and governments. It wants "all citizens" to be free from government surveillance of their electronic communications.
In a slam against Attorney General John Ascroft, the Texas Party believes that "the current greatest threat to our individual liberties is overreaching government controls established under the guise of preventing terrorism."
Remember, this is the Texas state Republican Party. It is President Bush's Party -- the organization that launched his political career to the Governorship and beyond. His friends and political allies run this Party.
So it is remarkable to read that the Platform demands the "elimination of presidential authority to issue executive orders, presidential decision directives. . . .and a repeal of all previous executive orders and administrative mandates." This policy would handcuff both George W. Bush and John Ascroft.
In opposition to President Bush, his state Party insists that social security funds "should not be commingled or spent with general revenues or invested in private or public corporate stock." And it adds, Social Security benefits should "be non-taxable," until private pensions replace social security.
Talk about abolishing government! The Texas Republican Party wants to terminate the U.S. Department of Education, (there goes Bush's Leave No Child Behind hoax), the Internal Revenue Service, along with the elimination of the personal income tax, inheritance tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax and the minimum wage. That is not all. The Party wants to close down the Department of Health and Human Services, Commerce, Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and for good measure, the "position of Surgeon General."
The Platform has one demand that is quite sensible -- namely "The Party does not support governmental subsidies, tariffs, bailouts, or other forms of corporate welfare [including sports stadiums] that are used to protect and preserve businesses or industries that have failed to remain relevant, competitive, and efficient over time."
President Bush made his fortune by getting Texas taxpayers to pay for the Texas Rangers's new baseball stadium. His government now expands corporate welfare on the backs of individual taxpayers, while allowing huge tax escapes for large multinational corporations.
If you want to read more, long onto www.texasgop.org/library/RPTPlatform2002.pdf. But if you've read this far, you may be asking how did this astonishing Texas GOP vs. Bush come about. It has to do with the double life of the Republican Party -- the main party dominated by corporatists and the adjunct Party relying on conservatives and libertarians to produce the margin of votes for victory in elections.
The corporatist Republicans give the platforms and the core ideological issues to the conservatives, pat them on the back at convention time and then move into office with the welcome mat for Big Business lobbyists and their slushfunds.
This duplicity is illustrated by the large contributions that the national Republican Party takes from the gambling industry in return for political support. In contrast, the Texas Party Platform states that "gambling has had a devastating impact on many Texas families" and opposes "any further legalization, government facilitation, or financial guarantees relating to any type of gambling. . . "
In a letter to President Bush, I called on him to engage in truth-in-advertising and let the voters of this country know which provisions of his own state Party's Platform he endorses and which ones he opposes. For all its faults, the media does not like forked tongues and will sooner or later demand "clarification."
As for the Democratic Party, why didn't it make hay with this Platform, as the Republicans surely would have if the shoe was on the other foot. Why? Because the Democratic Party IS hay.