Watch your Step! Quite a few Planks are Rotten in the Republican Platform

By S. Leon Felkins
August 24, 2004
Revised September 17, 2004

I recently received a personal letter from the GOP requesting my financial support. I was actually surprised to get this request as it has been my understanding that they are rolling in loot, most of it lavished on them by large corporations, particularly those that stand to make a buck or two off of international military shenanigans, security scares, and voting machines.

Not being flush with cash but still wanting to help, I decided I would contribute some of my time, which I have more of than money, in an area that would help them greatly. And that is a re-write of their platform which, as you will see as you read this, is in desperate need of help.

I started with the 2000 platform, followed by the 1996 platform, planning on an actual "2004" write-up after completing my initial research.

Unfortunately, my efforts were a failure. As you will see in a reading of the following pages, almost nothing promised in 2000 ever came to be. Now what was I to do? Fortunately, by the time I was through with my analysis, the Republicans had published their version. Wisely, they made little mention of what was promised in 2000. Or any previous platforms.

Nevertheless, a review of the 2000 and 2004 platforms and their differences is still of considerable value for it gives us great insight in the workings of political parties. And so, here it is. My comments follow quotes from the document, which are shown in bold, italic, font.

Review and Comments on The 2000 Republican Platform


After a period of bitter division in national politics, our nominee is a leader who brings people together.

Hmm, I think we need to work on that. The "Reds" and the "Blues" seem to be even further apart than when the Bushies took office!

We commit ourselves to rebuilding the American military and returning to a foreign policy of strength and purpose and a renewed commitment to our allies. We will deploy defenses against ballistic missiles and develop the weapons and strategies needed to win battles in this new technological era.

Dang!, the Russians didn't cooperate on that -- they let the "Cold War" die. We desperately need to spend billions on this type of warfare as it is extremely profitable, fun, and we have become so good at it. In fact, whether there is a real threat or not, evidence indicates that we intend to keep fighting this war against the USSR, dead or alive, as the following examples attest to.

While Rumsfeld has mumbled a bit about converting the military over to a structure suitable for fighting terrorism, we are not likely to cut the spending on the "Cold War" until the "Terrorist War" can take up the slack.
We commit ourselves to tax reforms that will sustain our nation's prosperity and reflect its decency. We will reduce the burden on all Americans, especially those who struggle most.

Well, I'm glad that they added the qualifier, "especially those who struggle most", for everyone knows that there is no group of humans that struggle more than the top executives of large corporations. Some say that they work long hours, often exceeding 8 hours per day, and have little time for the wife and children, i.e., "family values". They could use a little help.

We commit ourselves to aiding and encouraging the work of charitable and faith-based organizations.

That is, as long as that faith is based on Jesus. Other faiths need not apply, especially the Islam variety. See "Charity Sues Over Sanctions Due to Suspected Terrorism Links". And " Act now to prevent more raids."

Lincoln is our model.

Especially when it comes to conducting unapproved, brutal wars. See "Abraham Dubya Bush" from which I quote a sample:

"What, exactly, should President Bush do in order to mimic Lincoln’s war policies, as the neocons are urging him to do? Well, the first thing he should do (as Lincoln did) is to unilaterally suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus and order the military to begin arresting and imprisoning all dissenters, especially the press."

On the other hand, if they mean that Lincoln is the model for effective speaking, I would encourage Bush to stay with the program.

We are the party that ended slavery, granted homesteads, built land grant colleges, and moved control of government out of Washington. . . [emphasis mine]

Yes, and as a first step, we created the Department of Homeland Security. I quote from Rep. Ron Paul's article, "The Homeland Security Monstrosity":

"What do we expect from a huge bureaucracy conceived virtually overnight, by a Congress that didn’t even read the bill that creates it? Surely more deliberation was appropriate before establishing a giant new federal agency with 170,000 employees!"

The American Dream: Prosperity with a Purpose

The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over ten years.
That wasn't magic. It took honesty and guts from a Congress that manages the nation's purse strings. Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus.

Oh well, they tried (ha!). Take a look at the "Just the Facts" chart on the IBEW web site. The deficit growth exceeds any other period in U.S. History! And while you're looking note that the unemployment rate is growing almost as fast as when Bush Senior was in charge. More charts are at the "House Budget Committee - Democrats" site.

Taxes at all levels of government absorb 36 percent of the net national product. When the average American family has to work more than four months out of every year to fund all levels of government, it's time to change the tax system, to make it simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone.

It appears that the Republicans picked up this number at the Tax Foundation web site. The number for 2000 was actually 33.6% and is obtained by dividing the "total of all taxes paid" by the "Net National Product" (NNP) -- which is the GDP adjusted for depreciation.

So how did we do in the last 4 years? Looks pretty good -- the number is now 27.8%. We can give credit to the Bush's Tax Cut for most of this but we should note that part of the reduction comes from the NNP being larger. And we further note that the NNP includes such things as wars and, yes, disasters like the "9/11" terrorist incident.

Within the simpler and fairer tax system proposed by Governor Bush, the IRS will be downsized and made less intrusive.

Alright, let's see how we did. The budget for IRS for FY 2000 was about $8.072 billion (see "FY 2001 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE BUDGET REQUEST"). The FY 2005 budget request is $10.674 billion (see "INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Request"), a 32% increase. Now before you get all out of joint, take note that the IRS is complaining heavily about the austere conditions that have been foisted upon them. See "IRS MODERNIZATION: Continued Progress Necessary for Improving Service to Taxpayers and Ensuring Compliance".

Another is the phone tax imposed to finance the Spanish-American War - and still in place a century later. We call for the immediate repeal of the phone tax.

This is a great idea -- for getting votes. But no one has any intention of any such repeal ever becoming law. When we had a Democrat president (Clinton) practically all of the Republican legislators voted on a bill that would repeal the tax -- safe in the knowledge that the President would veto it. But now, we wouldn't want to embarrass President Bush, would we? So, it has not been brought out of committee again. Instead, the representatives are looking favorably at a proposal by IRS for further expansion! See "IRS Publishes Advance NPRM Regarding Expanding the Excise Tax on Telephones. . ." in the Tech Law Journal.

Government also has a responsibility to protect personal privacy, which is the single greatest concern Americans now have about the Information Revolution.

Sure, you bet. That's why we passed the PATRIOT Act. See John Kaminski's "Are You A Patriot?" for a summary of constitutional abuses by this horrible legislation.

A Responsibility Era

The Republican Congress rightly opposed attempts by the Department of Education to establish federal testing that would set the stage for a national curriculum. We believe it's time to test the Department, and each of its programs, instead.
How this could have happened, I do not know; but Bush signed into law the "The Leave No Child Behind Act" on January 8, 2002. That it is another disaster should be no surprise since the Republicans are opposed to such actions in the first place! See the PBS report at "".
A constitutional amendment to protect victims' rights at every stage of the criminal justice system.

I haven't seen any activity on that suggestion, however, I have noted much alarm about the President's henchman, Ashcroft, putting "suspects" in prison for indefinite periods without benefit of council or any other Constitutional rights. See "Ashcroft’s Assault on the Constitution" at the People For the American Way site.

We will reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House as a symbolic expression of our confidence in the restoration of the rule of law.

On second thought, maybe we will leave it closed for now. It seems to me, then, the fact that the barriers are still there is also symbolic -- of our lack of confidence in the restoration of the rule of law!.

We support Governor Bush's call for a 100 percent above-the-line tax deduction for premiums for long-term care insurance, recognizing and rewarding individual responsibility.

Support maybe, but not actual passage of a law. The proposed legislation is bottled up in committees.

American Partners in Conservation and Preservation: Stewardship of Our Natural Resources

For reasons both constitutional and environmental, therefore, we will safeguard private property rights by enforcing the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and by providing just compensation whenever private property is needed to achieve a compelling public purpose.

Government "takings" of private property have become rampant under the Bush regime. Fortunately, while we wait for the promised legislative relief by the Republicans, some progress is being made in the courts. See the article, "Public Power, Private Gain", at the Institute for Justice site, an organization that is in the forefront of fighting this abuse.

As a sign of that partnership, we applaud Governor Bush's intention to make all federal facilities comply with the environmental laws by which the American people live.
EPA is looking into it -- see "Cleanup Enforcement". They will get back to us.
A farm income savings plan: tax-deferred accounts to soften fluctuations in farm earnings.
  1. Total repeal of the death tax.
  2. Immediate 100 percent deductibility for health insurance costs.
  3. A one-time exemption from capital gains tax on the sale of farms.

Item 1: They are working on it; see "About the Death Tax" at the Citizens for Sound Economy site.
Item 2: Ditto. See "President's address highlights issues critical to small-business" at the National Small Business Association site.
Item 3: Ditto. See "Rep. Tom Osborne’s Legislation Geared to Help Family Farmers and Ranchers" at the House of Representatives site.

This [National Energy Security Act] agenda will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, help consumers by lowering energy prices, and result in lower carbon emissions than would result from the current administration's policies.
The National Energy Security Act was introduced to Congress in 2001. No progress to date. The concept did get minor applause in the President's State of the Union address for 2004.

Government for the People

Trust, pride, and respect: we pledge to restore these qualities to the way Americans view their government. It is the most important of tasks and reflects the overwhelming desire of our citizens for fundamental change in official Washington.
Hmm. It does not seem to be "trust, pride, and respect" that characterizes our attitude toward the government, but fear. And that seems to be on the increase.
To end pork barrel abuses on Capitol Hill, we will:
  1. Eliminate the "baseline budgeting" that artificially boosts spending.
  2. Create a constitutionally sound line item veto for the president, and direct the savings from items vetoed to paying down the national debt.
  3. Prevent government shutdowns by enacting a "Permanent Continuing Resolution" so the spending lobbies can never again extort billions from the taxpayers by blocking the regular order of appropriation bills.
  4. Define legislatively the conditions for "emergency" spending.

Item 1: A Google search only returned the "Republican Platform, 2000", the document under review here.
Item 2: Who says Republicans don't have a sense of humor!
Item 3: Same comment as Item 1.
Item 4: Ditto

Bureaucracy will be reduced and trimmed in size at its upper echelons.

I'm trying not to lose faith but this one is just a bit too much -- so I had to carefully check it out! And I have a great source -- Paul Light, highly respected author from The Brookings Institution, author of the book, The True Size of Government. As luck would have it, he has an update to the book on line at "Fact Sheet on the New True Size of Government". Therein, he confirms that government has only grown from 11 million in 1999 to 12.1 million in 2002 (includes government contractors). Which is about 10% in 3 years. Just be thankful it was "reduced and trimmed in size".

Principled American Leadership

A humanitarian intervention in Somalia was escalated thoughtlessly into nation-building at the cost of the lives of courageous Americans.
A military intervention in Haiti displayed administration indecision and incoherence and, after billions of dollars had been spent, accomplished nothing of lasting value

The Invasion of Iraq should make it clear to all how these things should be handled.

Over the past seven years, a shrunken American military has been run ragged by a deployment tempo that has eroded its military readiness. Many units have seen their operational requirements increased four-fold, wearing out both people and equipment. Only last fall the Army certified two of its premier combat divisions as unready for war because of underfunding, mismanagement, and over-commitment to peacekeeping missions around the globe. More Army units and the other armed services report similar problems. It is a national scandal that almost one quarter of our Army's active combat strength is unfit for wartime duty.

Actually, getting a handle on what exactly "military readiness" means is apparently very difficult. Congress continues to increase the reporting requirements on the military and GAO continues to complain that the reports are garbage.

In view of the quoted assessment, I would think it would be very risky to send these ill-prepared troops off to war without first correcting these problems. Actually, the military brass objected to this statement when made and insisted they were in fact, "ready", for whatever.

Al Franken, in his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who tell Them, has this to say about this magical transformation of our Armed Forces:

"Nine months after Bush took office, we went to war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Soviets couldn't conquer Afghanistan. Neither could the British in 1919. But somehow, we did it in a few weeks. With no new funding (the first Bush defense budget went into effect on October 1, 2002), Donald Rumsfeld had taken our "gutted" military and, with a little string and some baling wire, turned it into the greatest fighting force in the history of the planet."

And then he quotes Dick Cheney:

"A commander-in-chief leads the military built by those who came before him. There is little that he or his defense secretary can do to improve the force they have to deploy. It is all the work of previous administrations. Decisions made today shape the force of tomorrow." - Vice-Presidential Candidate Dick Cheney, 2000 Campaign

So, I'm confused on this one. Do I believe the authors of this "Platform" or Cheney?

Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness.


We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.

This is going to need some creative thinking before we make this issue part of the 2004 platform. The challenge is to come up with something that will keep the party faithful in line but not turn off lots of gay or gay-supporting voters. Surely we have the talent to do this.

A few Jewels from an Older Platform - 1996

Why bother with planks from older platforms? Well, because the claim was loudly and repeatedly made by the Republicans that if only they were in charge, these are the things they would do. They have been in total control (presidency, congress, and the courts) for the last 4 years now and it bears repeating what they said they would do.

Well then, what did the Republican Regime actually do?

To find out what the legislators actually have been up to in this session, the best source is the "Thomas" web site. There you will find a huge array of proposed bills in various stage of adoption or non-adoption, many of which are really weird and some of which are even hysterical. But there are far too many to take seriously so let us limit ourselves to what actually got passed and are now "Public Laws". One of the best sources for the list of Public Laws is GPO Access, from which I have linked to a few interesting examples below.

Lots and lots of appropriations (like for the Iraq war!), and Post Office naming, but let's skip that. Here's some of the more interesting laws passed:

The 2004 Republican Platform

There is little correlation between the 2000 platform and the 2004 platform. The impression one receives is that it is for some other political party. For example, the major issue of Republicanism and government growth is hardly mentioned in the 2004 platform! Take a look at the web page, "2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America" in which the platform is outlined extensively, and you will notice that there is no mention of "limiting government growth". Under "Government Growth", the only item mentioned is "Stop activist judges from banning Pledge & Ten Commandments." Apparently that is the content of "Government Growth", as far as Republicans are concerned.

In fact, it appears that over half of the 2004 platform is devoted to the achievements of Bush and the Republicans in ridding the world of terrorism. But even that is strange in its emphasis. If you search the platform for "Osama" only one hit comes up and that is in a paragraph criticising the Clinton regime for failing to take appropriate action. A search for "Saddam", on the other hand, results in 9 hits. Apparently Saddam is 9 times as important as Osama, the alleged organizer of the 9/11/01 attack on the USA.

Further Comparisons

Many of the failed promises of the 2000 platform were discussed above. Here I will make just a few more comparisons to the contents of the 2004 platform - especially what is missing!


Gosh, after all this analysis, I really don't know what to say! I am confused as to what the GOP really stands for. It was obvious that the 2000 platform had to be junked (and all those before) and the Party had to start all over -- but with what?. What can we say that Republicans now stand for? Would anyone believe whatever they say?

Are we still for "conservative" values? Family values? Christian values? I think we could be criticised in these areas. Minimal government? No, better not mention that one. Freedom and privacy of the individual? I suppose we could say we will get back to that just as soon as we win the "War on Terrorists". Fiscal responsibility? Not a chance. Shut down the massively wasteful and dishonest "Drug War"? Too scary -- it is a sad commentary on our citizens that many still support this fiasco.

Thank goodness the Party faithful came up with something to fill the pages of the 2004 platform. And what was that? The president heroically saved our country from the terrorists! I would say over 50% of the new platform is devoted to that.

And that generates a most disturbing question: What chance would George Bush have of being elected if the the terrorist attack of 9/11/01 had never happened? By the emphasis being placed on that one aspect of his governance, I would say, not much. But an even more disturbing question is, what incentive does he and his regime have to end the war on terror?

About as much as there is to end the "War on Drugs" and the massive military structure whose goal is to defend us against threats that only our friends have the capability to implement.

We need to get the Republicans out of power so that they can get back to denouncing big government, advocating responsible spending, promoting Constitutional values and other Conservative beliefs!

Mr. Felkins is a retired former military officer, college professor, and computer systems engineer. He maintains a web page on Political Philosophy, "A Rational Life", and another on the history of politics, "The Political Almanac". Email is welcome.