Alarm bells sounded this week when the Republican Party announced on the eve of their convention that, for the first time in their history, they had decided not to present a party platform. They ruled “out of order” any attempts to adopt one and opted instead to “reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his Administration” and to “adjourn without adopting a new platform until 2024.”
Racial injustice, life-threatening global warming, the Covid-19 death toll which in 6 months is already triple the U.S. casualties from the brutal Vietnam War, millions unemployed and without healthcare, refugees from violence seeking legal asylum at the border, crippling student debt, an exponentially higher national debt, and young lives forever compromised by substandard education. NOT ONE of these issues is considered compelling enough to warrant the drafting of new approaches or more effective policies? I shudder to think of issues that demand urgent action, if nothing on that list rises to attention.
“Strong support for President Trump and his administration” means there are no policies that define the GOP in this election cycle. This year, unlike every other presidential election year, the Republican Party is defined by the person of Donald Trump. Period. By his own admission, this is a man who eschews experts and historical and scientific data and decides a course of action by gut feeling. An attempt to extort a foreign power for personal gain merited impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives, and his closest associates and campaign officials have been indicted, convicted, and imprisoned. How did the GOP demand accountability from the current president of the world’s greatest democracy? They wrote him a blank check using taxpayer funds for the next four years. The Grand Old Party’s 2020 platform is carte blanche: authoritarian rule by Donald J. Trump.
My purpose is not to bash past Republican voters. I have disagreed with their choices but found common ground with supporters of George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. But this year, regardless of candidate, I could never support a political party that asks each of us to sacrifice our own critical analysis, informed conscience, our sacred right of democratic choice, and control over our tax dollars to pledge blind support to an individual who is officially and openly off the hook, without accountability, and unbounded by principle, ideology, or goals. Because that, my friends, establishes a dictatorship.
Within the next two months, each of us will participate in deciding the future of the United States. What policies do we want to shape the world we leave to our children and grandchildren? Of the two major parties, only one has identified its priorities and drafted policies to address them. You may or may not agree with every position, but they were debated, recorded, and disseminated for purposes of assessing future performance and encouraging accountability.
To its great shame, the “Grand Old Party” has abdicated all responsibility, ruled “out of order” any new ideas, and abandoned policy debates. Demanding blind obedience and granting unlimited tax dollars to any individual emboldens him or her to act with complete impunity. That, in a democracy, is wholly indefensible.
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