Postmodern Conservative

Watching the Party Meltdown

Neither party is taking its platform seriously.

So the moderate Democrat Bill Galston observed in the Wall Street Journal that the Democrats have written a platform that’s far to the left not only of Bill Clinton but of Barack Obama too. It’s progressive in the really stupid sense, with ill-conceived new big-government programs, such as free public higher education for everyone. It’s also for a $15-an-hour minimum wage (which really would  take out lots of jobs and be a stimulus package for robotization etc.) and has no mention of economic growth at all. And it’s equally extreme on the social issues, not going beyond 2012 by not even paying lip service to religious freedom. 

The platform is mostly a suck-up to Sanders voters, or the opposite of an effort to move to the middle to build a majority coalition in November. Why? There’s very little need to worry about actually winning the election. The only worry, it turns out, is that Bernie’s supporters might stay home.

Trump, after all, is incapable of being a really serious candidate. And his positions on the issues aren’t really Republican anyway.

Well, won’t Hillary just govern as a Clintonian (or even Obamian) crony capitalist in the pocket of Wall Street and Silicon Valley? Well, her options might be more limited than she thinks now, if the Democrats capture both Houses of Congress. It may be the case that Bernie ends up winning everything but the actual presidency.

Meanwhile, the Republican platform is more extreme than 2012 in the other direction. It’s for “conversion therapy” for homosexuals. What the blank is that doing in the national platform? It might be a good idea to want to get the votes of conservative gays (and not just gays, obviously) who think conversion efforts are cruel and futile.

To call attention to the contradiction all over the Internet: The Republicans have declared pornography a public-health crisis, but they are going to nominate a strip-club owner who appeared on the cover of Playboy. To use the old-fashion terms, there’s neither prudence nor moral seriousness here!

It would appear the Republicans writing the platform can say whatever they want, because they have no respect for their candidate and know he’s going to lose anyway.

I’m going to stop here: But I don’t see how any reasonable American could choose either of our two parties this year.

The problem is worse for the Republicans, of course. Some of them have the illusion that the Trump nomination won’t affect races down the ballot. The effect on their brand of not taking the presidential nomination and the national platform seriously will be and surely deserves to be negative across the board.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...


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