feature image via TIME
Republican politicians and the party’s delegates descended upon Cleveland to kick off the Republican National Convention on Monday and, boy, has it been a nightmarish TV show come to life. If you missed the first episode, you can find recap highlights here.
One of the first things the Republican party checked off their agenda was they released their final party platform Monday afternoon. The document isn’t a binding contract for Donald Trump or other candidates but is a clear statement of the party’s values and goals on various issues. It’s no surprise here but their policy blueprint isn’t friendly toward LGBT people and women, in fact their platform is incredibly hostile and even more extreme and dangerous than ever before.
Their platform covers a whole lot of issues and is extensively studded with the words “God,” “natural,” “family,” “liberty,” “freedom,” “religious,” and of course “American.” It’s sounds like a really bad 4th of July event flyer but it’s not — it’s a whole political party’s belief system. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled it into law already, the party openly opposes same-sex marriage. They staunchly oppose their “religious freedom” from being taken away and vow to defend it by supporting legislation that allows people and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. They condemn trans people from using the restroom that aligns with their gender because they say it’s “illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues.” They believe “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights,” whatever that means. They oppose women getting abortions because they supposedly care about “protecting human life” and want to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood, which they specifically named in the document. But at the same time, amidst the constant gun violence we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks, they make no moves on gun control and instead wholeheartedly embrace their fucking right to bear arms. They call pornography a “public health crisis.” The document also affirms Trump’s Mexico wall dreams by saying their “highest priority” is to “secure our borders.” I mean there’s more, but you get the picture. These are all things we all knew and hate about the GOP but it’s frightening to know thousands of individuals discussed it and agreed that this is what they believe.
What’s even more concerning is the GOP completely went against their own party’s recommendations to broaden the party’s appeal. After Mitt Romney’s loss to Obama in 2012, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ordered an “autopsy report” to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid defeat in the 2016 presidential election. The report, called the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” found the party needed to be more inclusive of people of color, especially Latino voters, and needed to appeal to younger voters.
“The perception, revealed in polling, that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the party and its candidates on the federal level, especially in presidential years,” said the report. “It is a major deficiency that must be addressed.” You see, even the Republican party had proof they needed to chill with their oppressive views.
The 2013 RNC autopsy report recommended the party should “champion comprehensive immigration reform” to appeal to the fastest-growing population in the country. “It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies,” the report says. “In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”
The autopsy report didn’t include a section on appealing to LGBT people but they did say the party should adopt a welcoming tone toward LGBT Americans as a way to appeal to young voters who are cool with the gays. “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be. If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”
Spoiler alert: none of these recommendations were implemented this year and instead the party’s platform has moved even farther to the right, armed with even more offensive and dangerous rhetoric personified by Donald Trump.
Log Cabin Republicans tried desperately to persuade party members to change the platform’s views regarding LGBT Americans but garnered little support. Gregory T. Angelo, President of Log Cabin Republicans, called it “the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”
Many journalists have noted, in the past, platforms only have meaning to the party and are often ignored by everyone else. However, this platform is notable because it’s extremely conservative ; one Washington Post journalist says it “will be remembered chiefly as having reinforced a conservative shift that has taken place since the party’s 2012 defeat in the presidential race, and underscored the power of the constituency that fueled Trump’s victory in the nomination battle.” The New York Times’ editorial board writes: “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”
We’re no strangers to what the Republican party presented in their platform. Their proposed and passed legislation has been our living nightmare the last few years with the fight for reproductive health rights and LGBT non-discrimination laws at the forefront, along with a plethora of other issues that are important to our communities. But now as another presidential election is in full swing, the party’s platform is a concrete reminder that these conservative politicians aren’t stopping anytime soon and have even more momentum to carry out their plans.