New York Times reporter Michael Cooper took elaborate pains to emphasize just how far to the right the GOP has come from those moderate days of -- Ronald Reagan's election? -- in Wednesday's, "Platform’s Sharp Turn to the Right Has Conservatives Cheering ." The jump page included side-by-side text comparisons of "Republican Party Platforms, Then and Now." Yet Democratic Party platforms are hardly ever scrutinized by the Times for extremist stands on issues like abortion.
One party platform stated that Hispanics and others should not “be barred from education or employment opportunities because English is not their first language.” It highlighted the need for “dependable and affordable” mass transit in cities, noting that “mass transportation offers the prospect for significant energy conservation.” And it prefaced its plank on abortion by saying that “we recognize differing views on this question among Americans in general -- and in our own party.”
The other party platform said that “we support English as the nation’s official language.” It chided the Democratic administration for “replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” And its abortion plank recognized no dissent, taking the position that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
No, they are not the platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties. They are both Republican platforms: the first from 1980, at the dawn of the Reagan revolution, and the second the 2012 Republican platform that was approved on Tuesday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.
The new platform -- with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government -- shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time.
Subtitled “We Believe in America,” the platform keeps its focus on the party’s traditional support for low taxes, national security and social conservatism. And it delves into a number of politically charged issues. It calls state court decisions recognizing same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society,” opposes gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines,” supports the “public display of the Ten Commandments,” calls on the federal government to drop its lawsuits challenging state laws adopted to combat illegal immigration, and salutes the Republican governors and lawmakers who “saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.”
The Democratic National Convention is next week, and if history is a guide the Times will downplay the stands in the Democratic platform, especially the party's extreme pro-choice stand on abortion. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently wrote :
Though one-third of Democrats identify themselves as pro-life, the Democratic Party platform is strident in its defense of abortion on demand. The party “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade,” the platform avows, and abortion must be made available “regardless of ability to pay” -- that is, at public expense. The 2012 platform, in language recycled from 2008, vows to “oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine” the availability of abortion....In 2000, the Democratic platform said the party’s goal was “to make abortion less necessary and more rare.” The 2004 platform declared, “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” But even calling for abortion to be “rare” is now too much for the Democrats’ platform committee, which deleted the word in 2008....