In a front-page story in last week’s Human Events, long-time conservative activist Donald Devine reported that the 2008 Republican platform is a vast improvement over the 2004 version. Here is a selection of excerpted highlights from this year’s Republican platform.
Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law.
Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country.
Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. …
Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who traffic in fraudulent documents … we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that E-Verify must be renewed and receive the federal government’s full support. It does not mean a national ID card.
The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay — and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. … It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences for self-described sanctuary cities, which refuse to participate in what is an essential national security campaign. It does not mean driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens.
We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. …
A stable, democratic Iraqi nation is within reach. Our success in Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven, limit Iranian influence in the Middle East, strengthen moderate forces there, and give us a strategic ally in the struggle against extremism. To those who have sacrificed so much, we owe the commitment that American forces will leave that country in victory and with honor. That outcome is too critical to our own national security to be jeopardized by artificial or politically inspired timetables that ignore the advice of our on-the-ground commanders. As the people of Iraq assume their rightful place in the ranks of free and open societies, we offer them a continuing partnership.
As a rogue state, Iran’s leadership supports terror, threatens its neighbors, and provides weapons that are killing our troops in Iraq. We affirm, in the plainest words we can use, that the U.S. government, in solidarity with the international community, will not allow the current regime in Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.
We call for a significant increase in political, economic, and diplomatic pressure to persuade Iran’s rulers to halt their drive for a nuclear weapons capability, and we support tighter sanctions against Iran and the companies investing in its energy sector. At the same time, the U.S. must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.
Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately. Current procedures should be replaced with simplicity and transparency. For example: Earmarking must stop. To eliminate wasteful projects and pay-offs to special interests, we will impose an immediate moratorium on the earmarking system and reform the appropriations process through full transparency. Tax dollars must be distributed on the basis of clear national priorities, not a politician’s seniority or party position.
Government waste must be taken off auto-pilot. We call for a one-year pause in non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending to force a critical, cost-benefit review of all current programs.
We call for a constitutionally sound presidential line-item veto. If billions are worth spending, they should be spent in the light of day. We will insist that, before either the House or Senate considers a spending bill, every item in it should be exposed to the taxpayers on the Internet.
Because the problem is too much spending, not too few taxes, we support a supermajority requirement in both the House and Senate to guard against tax hikes. New authorizations should be offset by reducing another program, and no appropriation should be permitted without a current authorization. …
Appointing Constitutionalist Judges
Judicial activism is a grave threat to the rule of law because unaccountable federal judges are usurping democracy, ignoring the Constitution and its separation of powers, and imposing their personal opinions upon the public. This must stop. We condemn the Supreme Court’s disregard of homeowners’ property rights in its Kelo decision and deplore the court’s arbitrary extension of Americans’ habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants held abroad. We object to the court’s unwarranted interference in the administration of the death penalty in this country for the benefit of savage criminals whose guilt is not at issue.
We lament that judges have denied the people their right to set abortion policies in the states and are undermining traditional marriage laws from coast to coast. We are astounded that four justices of the Supreme Court believe that individual Americans have no individual right to bear arms to protect themselves and their families. Republicans will insist on the appointment of constitutionalist judges, men and women who will not distort our founding documents to deny the people’s right to self-government, sanction federal powers that violate our liberties, or inject foreign law into American jurisprudence. …
The most important distinction between Republicans and the leadership of today’s Democratic Party concerning taxes is not just that we believe you should keep more of what you earn. That’s true, but there is a more fundamental distinction. It concerns the purpose of taxation. We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions. Today’s Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives. It gives them the power to anoint winners and losers, favor or cripple an industry, reward their friends, and redesign society. That explains why they so often support taxes that they know will have a terrible effect on the economy – because the economy is a secondary consideration.
American families with children are the hardest hit during any economic downturn. Republicans will lower their tax burden by doubling the exemption for dependents. New technology should not occasion more taxation. We will permanently ban Internet access taxes and stop all new cell phone taxes.
For the sake of family farms and small businesses, we will continue our fight against the federal death tax. The Alternative Minimum Tax, a stealth levy on the middle class that unduly targets large families, must be repealed.
America’s producers can compete successfully in the international arena – as long as they have a level playing field. Today’s tax code is tilted against them, with one of the highest corporate tax rates of all developed countries. That not only hurts American investors, managers, and the U.S. balance of trade; it also sends American jobs overseas. We support a major reduction in the corporate tax rate so that American companies stay competitive with their foreign counterparts and American jobs can remain in this country.
No amount of wishing or hoping can suspend the laws of supply and demand. We must aggressively increase our nation’s energy supply, in an environmentally responsible way, and do so through a comprehensive-strategy that meets both short, and long-term needs. In the long run, American production should move to zero-emission sources, but our nation’s fossil fuel resources are the bridge to that emissions-free future — and it would be folly to burn a bridge before making it to the other side.
We simply must draw more American oil from American soil if we are to have the resources we need to achieve energy independence. We support accelerated exploration and drilling of American sources, from oilfields off the nation’s coasts to proven fields such as those in Montana, North Dakota, and Alaska. The Green River Basin in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming offers recoverable shale oil that is ready for development, and most of it is on federal lands. … To deliver that energy to American consumers, we will expand our refining capacity. …
Nuclear energy — a gift to mankind implanted in matter itself — is the most reliable zero-carbon-emissions source of energy that we have. Unwarranted fear-mongering that has no relationship to current technologies and safeguards has prevented us from starting construction of a single nuclear power plant in 31 years. … Confident in the promise offered by science and technology, Republicans will pursue dramatic increases in the use of safe, affordable, reliable — and clean — nuclear power.
By increasing our American energy supply and decreasing the long-term demand for oil, we will be well positioned to address the challenge of global warming and continue our longstanding responsibility for stewardship over the environment.…
Republicans caution against the doomsday climate-change scenarios peddled by the aficionados of centralized command-and-control government. We can — and should — address global warming without succumbing to the no-growth radicalism that treats climate questions as dogma rather than as situations to be managed responsibly.
Health Care Reform
Republicans believe all Americans should be able to obtain an affordable health care plan that meets their needs and the needs of their families. Families and doctors are the key to real reform, not lawyers and bureaucrats. To empower families, we must make insurance more affordable and more secure, and give employees the option of owning coverage that is not tied to their job. Patients should not have to worry about losing their insurance. Insurance companies should have to worry about losing patients’ business.
The current tax system discriminates against individuals who do not receive health care from their employers, gives more generous health tax benefits to upper-income employees, and fails to provide every American with the ability to purchase an affordable health care plan. Republicans propose to correct inequities in the current tax code that drive up the number of uninsured and to level the playing field so that individuals who choose a health insurance plan in the individual market face no tax penalty. All Americans should receive the same tax benefit as those who are insured through work, whether through a tax credit or other means.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions must be protected. We will help these individuals by building on the experiences of innovative states rather than by creating a new unmanageable federal entitlement.
All children should have access to an excellent education that empowers them to secure their own freedom and contribute to the betterment of our society. We reaffirm the principles that have been the foundation of the nation’s educational progress toward that goal: accountability for student academic achievement; periodic testing on the fundamentals of learning, especially math and reading, history and geography; transparency, so parents and the general public know which schools best serve their students; and flexibility and freedom to innovate so schools and districts can best meet the needs of their students.
We advocate policies and methods that are proven and effective: building on the basics, especially phonics; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals. We reject a one-size-fits-all approach, and support local innovations such as single-sex education.
To ensure that all students will have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ future potential. All students must be literate in English, our common language, to participate in the promise of America. …
Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child. We support choice in education for all families, especially those with children trapped in dangerous and failing schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers, faith-based or other non-public schools, or the option of learning at home. We will energetically assert the right of students to engage in voluntary prayer in schools and to have equal access to school facilities for religious purposes. We support abstinence education and oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception. School-based mental health programs should not include the use of psychotropic drugs. …
Upholding the Constitutional Right to Bear Arms
We uphold the right of individual Americans to own firearms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the 2nd Amendment. We applaud federal court rulings affirming that right, particularly the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, and we assert the individual responsibility to safely use and store firearms.
We call on the next President to appoint judges who will similarly respect the Constitution. Gun ownership is responsible citizenship, enabling Americans to defend their homes and communities against violent individuals and the drug culture. We call for education in constitutional rights in schools, and we support the option of firearms training in federal programs serving senior citizens and women. We urge immediate action to review the automatic denial of gun ownership to returning members of the Armed Forces who have suffered trauma during service to their country.
We condemn frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, which are transparent attempts to deprive citizens of their rights. We oppose federal licensing of law-abiding gun owners and national gun registration as violations of the 2nd Amendment.
Maintaining the Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
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 right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life. … We invite all persons of good will, whether across the political aisle or within our party, to work together to reduce the incidence of abortion; to protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement; and to oppose sex-selection abortions. …
Preserving Traditional Marriage
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 woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives. 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. To safeguard that victory, a Republican House of Representatives passed legislation withdrawing jurisdiction over DOMA from the federal courts. We urge renewed use of that Article III power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California.