Imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be supported at the Republican National Convention next week. And imagine that Trump leads the charge on his agenda for America along with some revision of the traditional party platform.
The Republican Platform & American Culture
I went to the GOP website to locate the current list of issues per the party "platform." What is available today is the 2012 platform, which provides a basis to see if there are any changes coming out of the 2016 convention so, if you want a Republican vision of a significant swath of U.S. culture, read it now or download the pdf for later reference (platform link).
A lot of groups will be at the convention attempting to get their voices heard and drawing attention to what about U.S. culture they would like to maintain or change. If you vote Republican, you are in part endorsing the platform to the extent they are serious about changing laws to conform to the platform.
A vote for president matters of course but a party platform also helps to identify the values of the people. ALL political parties have rhetoric so I suggest looking past the slogans at the details.
Of course, you ought to look at the revised platform at the end of the week along with Trump's speech to get a sense of the direction a lot of Americans desire.
Reading Political Platforms for Culture
American Dream: For example, if you wanted to support the "American Dream" what are the bits in the dream you want and what bits do you not want? Also, who should be allowed to share the dream (e.g., only Christians born in the U.S. to American citizens or some others too)? Asked another way, are there people you do not want to include in the American Dream?
I'm an immigrant. My father brought us to the U.S. and was a life-long believer in the American Dream. He became a citizen as soon as he could. Like me, lot's of Americans are naturalized citizens and want the best for America. And none of us can run for President (except Ted Cruz). But we have access to the other rights as do natural born citizens. It's a great country-- no wonder so many people want to share the dream. I do care about those kids who are in limbo--people without a country-- those brought in by illegal immigrants. What do you think? Should these kids only have a nightmare instead of a dream?
Big Government. Republicans generally have a reputation for being against big government but the 2012 platform includes a number of government programs dependent on taxes. What's your favorite government program (e.g., military, airport security, social security, FBI, CIA, IRS, CDC)? Should we get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, Disability programs and other health care assistance? Details matter because the federal budget is huge and we taxpayers without off-shore tax havens have to foot the bill.
If you favor smaller government, what government programs and services do you consider essential to our well-being as a nation? I actually don't mind helping the poor and funding basic education. I don't mind my taxes helping those who cannot work due to disability. I'm note sure about higher education for all.
I've seen a lot of waste in programs run by governments, nonprofit organizations (religious and secular), and for-profit corporations-- I think the problem with bloated budgets and excess spending is more a matter of human nature. We all suffer when some shirk work or spend to excess then go bankrupt-- sticking someone with a massive bill to pass on to others if they can.
God. Does every American pray to the same God? The Republican platform includes references to God. Conservative Christians have been strongly linked to the Republican party. Does the word "God" here refer to the Christian God meaning Jesus (in Christian theology, Jesus is God) or does the party include the God of the Jews and Muslims? Can the reference to God include the Hindu Gods too? I'm just wondering if the party is just for Christians.
I presume that no atheists are welcome in the Republican Party or their endorsement of the platform would be hypocritical. I also wonder if it would not be more honest for religious groups to have their own party like Christian Republicans and Christian Democrats- at least we would have a little better idea of the faith-politics connection.
Military. Military strength is a common concern of Republicans. Nowadays it seems like a we can't be too skimpy on military spending; though I suspect there's still a lot of waste -- not because of Republicans per se but because of human nature. I happen to support a strong military but I hate waste and I can't imagine how we can police the entire planet. Leadership must include plans to wisely allocate tax dollars to defense-- don't you think?
Budgets and Debts. Regardless of who is in congress and who is president, I have seen no evidence of a serious effort to reduce the size of the U.S. budget. Perhaps of more concern to me is balancing the budget given the huge debt we currently owe. I'm a fiscal conservative. My wife and I seek value and try to be careful with our money. I happen to think government leaders ought to be more careful with our hard earned money taken in the form of taxes.
In principle, I'm not opposed to paying taxes but I hate to see wasted funds and people acting as if they are "servants" of the people while living in luxury off of taxpayers. The bottom line is, budgets and debts affect the kind of culture we will enjoy.
Pro-life. Republicans have typically been the party with a stance against abortion. However, some Republicans support a woman's right to choose. Abortion is clearly a hot button issue. Throughout the U.S., various laws have been passed that increase restrictions on access to abortion.
I believe pro-life is a moral good. And equality for women is a moral good. I wonder what the new platform will say about abortion? I wonder if it matters if a party is pro-life but not all members of a party support the platform.
I wonder if it matters if a politician says they are pro-life. If they swear to uphold the law and the law permits abortion, doesn't that cause some inner conflict if they are seriously anti-abortion? What does it really mean for a candidate to be pro-life-- is it just a feel-good slogan?
There's more to Republican values than what's in the platform and even more in speeches. I'm not out to increase or decrease support for Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians. I am primarily concerned that people think about the issues before voting.
I actually believe there are patriots in all three parties and I believe one can be a sincere Christian and be a member of any of these parties. I do not comment on the perspective of other religious faiths because as a Christian I do not think I could do justice to the perspectives others might have. I do respect the right of free speech for people of other faiths or no faith at all
More to come- Democrats and Libertarians
I write about culture in general and Christian culture in particular. To read more, see my recent book.