Letter: Platform to Stand On

Letter to the Editor

The Republican Party has decided for now to forgo updating their 2016 platform. A political party in power should want to show responsiveness to constituents’ concerns not addressed in their earlier platform by updating it. The 2016 Republican platform, for example, included no mention of policies designed to protect Americans from the threat of pandemics (compared to four mentions in the 2016 Democratic platform). The 2016 Republican platform included multiple criticisms of the “current administration,” which was the Obama administration in 2016 but is the Trump administration in 2020. Ironically, however, some of the criticisms that the Republicans leveled against the Obama administration in 2016 are even more applicable to the Trump administration in 2020. For example, the Republican platform says, “The current Administration has exceeded its constitutional authority, brazenly and flagrantly violated the separation of powers, sought to divide America into groups and turn citizen against citizen. The President has refused to defend or enforce laws he does not like, used executive orders to enact national policies in areas constitutionally reserved solely to Congress, made unconstitutional ‘recess’ appointments to Senate-confirmed positions, directed regulatory agencies to overstep their statutory authority, and failed to consult Congress regarding military action overseas.” I could not agree more. The larger issue is that Republicans shun making the contest about policies because their positions on healthcare access, on reducing racial inequities, on protecting the environment, on gun control, etc., are deeply unpopular. Instead, Republicans would like the contest to be based on who would be the “strongest” decider-in-chief. Biden has explicitly rejected this framing of the election, however. He has declined to be the exclusive decider-in-chief, saying that the election is not about him but about “us.” He has already committed to sharing every decision with Kamala Harris before a final decision is made. President Trump may be seen as the stronger decider-in-chief but he and his party are nonetheless headed for a historic loss this November because of suburbanites who yearn for the stability and evidence-based nature of consensus decision-making rather than the unpredictability of relying on the whim of a single, strong decider-in-chief.

William McCarthy