Putting the "Plat" in Platform


Now THAT'S a platform I can get behind

Pretty psyched up about the Republican Party Pledge to America, either pro or con? Well, remember this: The GOP platform of 2008, cobbled together as a Republican administration was neck-deep in a bailout season of its own creation, included this passage:

We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.

How'd that one work out?

The 2008 platform also asserted, as Jacob Sullum pointed out at the time, that "the Constitution assigns the federal government no role in local education," then later in the document offered


opinions on all manner of local educational issues, including the virtues of phonics, the evils of sex education, the wisdom of merit pay for teachers, and the folly of social promotion. […]

Far from shrinking the federal government, the Republicans want to enlarge it, providing "aid to those hurt by the housing crisis," solving "the energy crisis" (undeterred by the Carteresque connotations of that phrase), "expanding access to higher education," seeking "a major expansion of support" for certain kinds of stem cell research, even "returning Americans to the moon as a step toward a mission to Mars." The platform does not explain how these initiatives qualify as "legitimate constitutional functions."

The Republicans are committed to "continuing the fight against illegal drugs," even though that fight, unlike alcohol prohibition, was never authorized by a constitutional amendment. They want to impose national bans on gay marriage, human cloning, assisted suicide, and online gambling, even while declaring that "Congress must respect the limits imposed by the Tenth Amendment," which reserves to the states or the people "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution." Despite their eagerness to trample individual freedom in all these areas, Republicans claim "the other party wants more government control over people's lives," but "Republicans do not."

There's a reason why people mostly ignore political platforms, and will likely forget about this one, too: They're heavily lawyered political documents from parties most people dislike, and they bear at best a symbolic relationship to how their signatories will govern, particularly during times of stress. They lack even the human face and individual specificity that you get from candidate BSathons like this:

As for the document itself, I'm still waiting for a non-PDF version, but any response to the Continuing Crisis that doesn't involve specifics on entitlement or defense cuts seems to have successfully created symbolism of another kind: We know you're not serious about our unsustainable spending problem. Read Nick Gillespie's preview from yesterday for more.

For those who are serious about it, while desperately seeking a larf or two, subscribe now to our November 3-D issue: "How to Slash Government Before it Slashes You."

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: GOP "Pledge to America," Facebook Friends Newark Public Schools, Unintended Consequences in the Health Care Bill

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  1. Ok that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.


  2. Matt, did you feel pressured to make this anti-GOP post because of your rant against the D.C. Democrats from last week? You hate the Democrats, you hate the Republicans, you hate the Tea Party Movementarians. Maybe you’re just a hater!

    (But, yeah, campaign promises are the stuff nothing is made of.)

      1. Well, if you aren’t, I am.

    1. Maybe he remembers what happened when a bunch of people voted for Democrats to “punish” Republicans in 2008 and sees a lot of people **cough** **cough** now saying they will vote for Republicans to “send a message” to Democrats and wants to remind everyone that Republicans are also shitbags who shouldn’t be trusted and will more than likely continue to fuck everything up.

      1. ^ This.

        If you consider yourself a libertarian, vote Libertarian or for independents and / or third party candidates who most closely support the policies that matter to you.

        And if you can’t, or won’t, do that, then don’t vote. Voting R or D as “the lesser of evils” is what is exactly what is keeping evil in power.

        1. I retain a deep sympathy for the inclination to just throw the bums out.

        2. “Voting R or D as “the lesser of evils” is what is exactly what is keeping evil in power.”

          So if 80% of the country just didn’t vote, the people who won the majority of the 20% who did wouldn’t take power?

        3. Voting R or D as “the lesser of evils” is what is exactly what is keeping evil in power.

          It took me an embarrassingly long time to come to this realization. I’ve been holding my nose and pulling the lever for “the guy who I’m least put off by” for too many years.

          The problem that concerns me, though, is what John says. Even if all libertarians didn’t vote – or voted for the person they beleived to truly be the better candidate (despite the hard reality that this person simply is not going to get enough votes to win), who would it take votes away from – or, conversely, who would it help in the election? Either way, we’re pretty well guaranteed to end up with an R or a D, and the result is pretty well guaranteed to be more or less shitty.

        4. I wholeheartedly agree with your premise.

          However, is “voting for the greater of two evils” a better plan? Just fuck the whole thing up. Is it possible to vote in the biggest R or D fucktard (often a fine line) and let the rest take care of itself?

          I say this because so far, voting with one’s principles isn’t working either.

          People love to be part of something – a “gang” if you will. It’s also easier to point the finger at the other guy than to solve a problem. So, two parties make sense to the proles (“ummm we got da checks and balances now dangit”).

          1. Ever hear the term king maker?

            I am proposing the term King Killer.

            libertarians have no hope. We are doomed and will never get what we want. This being true there are still people in government today who are stealing your liberties. These poeple are still flesh and blood and if removed from office will be hurt.

            In local elections even for house representatives these people with little effort can be hurt in the polls and can be removed from office.

            I propose rather then getting the candidate we want we should instead hurt those who hurt us…regardless of who takes their spot.

            There is no hope…

            …but there is revenge.

  3. What do they actually intend to do in power? It took them 20 months to come up with a 5th grader’s report on the founding fathers.

      1. What do they actually intend to do in power?

        Abuse it, of course. Happens every time the majority shifts from left to right and vice-versa.

  4. Here’s what they should do. They should enter into an actual contract with some entity, say Cato, that they will do (or at least try really hard to do) certain things or face forfeiture of all of the money they have to pony up for escrow. I mean the individuals as well as the party.

    1. How about a pledge of “A pound of flesh, nearest the heart, with blood and exacta”?

    2. Fat chance. The problem is that the very top of the party benefits just as much from the system as the Democrats do. The top guys in either party didn’t spend their lives whoring themselves out just to tear the government down and end all of the bennies right when they finally get in power again.

      The sorry fact is that the Republican leadership is mostly made up of people like Mike Castle, Trent Lott, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Grahm. They call themselves “moderates”. That just means they play the game a little bit less shamelessly than the Democrats. But it is the same game with the same interests.

  5. When I sit down, furrow my brow, and try really really hard to think up a prioritized list of government responsibilities, a mission to Mars never seems to make it into the top ten thousand things on the list.

    I wonder why that is.

    1. It is my fervent hope that SpaceX or some company like SpaceX will be the sole means for transporting the first men to Mars.

      It would be funny if those first men and women were the film crew and actors for a live, adult film industry first.

      1. My Master’s project is being launched by SpaceX…

      2. May I modestly suggest a Congressional/Presidential trip to Mars?


        One way, of course.

        1. I’d pay taxes for that.

        2. I’m in. I’ll send a donation.

        3. Only if you can guarantee it will be built to government specifications.

    2. Because you’re anti-space.


  6. Mars is old hat. Which politician will be brave enough to promise a Journey to the Center of the Earth by the end of the decade?

    1. I hear TransOcean and BP got the no bid contract for that project. What could possibly go wrong?

  7. “Enforce sanctions in Iran” sounds an awful lot like the things we heard during the build-up to the Iraq war.

    Are we really set on war with Iran again? After all we’ve seen over the last ten years? Really?!?


    1. Well, Iran is at war with us, you know. It seems only fair.

  8. ^I meant “war again? With Iran?”

    I know we haven’t ever been at war with Iran directly…

  9. I know we haven’t ever been at war with Iran directly…

    The time has come to rectify this terrible oversight!

    And, watch you step, EastAsia.

  10. From Obama’s ad:

    1) STFU about ‘historic moments’ or ‘defining moments in history’. This is rapidly becoming one of my biggest pet peeves.

    2) We need to end this ‘era of partisanship’ and just agree with the guy with the Senate’s more liberal voting record?

    1. Agreed, I’d like to see the phrases “historic moment” and “defining moment in history’ laughed out of the language.

  11. WTF?!?!

    Ok Nick’s article yesterday was forgivable simply because “The Plague on America” had not officially been released yet.

    But you guys at reason had been bitching, at least for the last 2 months, that the republicans had no plan to cut spending…..now they have a plan and you guys are telling us we should ignore it..

    What the Fuck?

    1. So far as I can tell, there is no “Plan to Cut Spending” in this pledge.

      Just the usual mealy-mouthed crap.

      1. Then you have not actually read it.

        So far as I can tell, there is no “Plan to Cut Spending” in this pledge.

        This is actually kind of pissing me off. The dip shit republicans did not make an HTML page or text document so it is impossible to cut and paste sections of it to prove when poeple are talking out of their ass.

        Who the fuck uses PDFs but crappy bloated government agencies?

        1. Dude. You can cut and paste from PDFs. Try it out.

          This was hilarious:

          Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.

          It’s for teh Childrenz that we will reduce spending from absolutely insane dickdonkulous levels to just insanely dikdonkulous levels.

          1. It’s for teh Childrenz

            What you think gen X is going to pay down the debt before their children hit the work force?

            Dude even reason staffers have made the argument that our growing debt will hurt later generations.

            Why is it ok for libertarians to make this argument but is somehow bad when Republicans do it?

            If this is the worse you can find the Republican’s “Plague on America” is looking better and better with every post you make.

            1. I have to assume you misunderstood my point.

              I can’t even begin to comprehend yours.

  12. I haven’t read in any of the learned and prolific analyzes of ‘The Pledge’, where the real culprit of the problem lies. The voting populous has been disengaged for decades and have allowed a minority of the electorate to determine the players. If, and when, the electorate becomes engaged and stays engaged in choosing the players, we will see a different outcome. You can’t place all the blame on the players because you weren’t paying attention to who was being chosen to represent your interest. If everyone made these political offices a revolving door, there would be the opportunity to screw us on a continual basis. As far as I am concerned, they all need to be replaced after one(1) term for about 20 cycles.

  13. So, this new GOP set of promises says that they will:
    -Not increase taxes
    -Not touch Social Security or Medicare
    -Not cut military spending, beyond the usual promise to “cut waste and fraud” perhaps, which always means finding a handful of really egregious contracts but not looking at the overall size of the institution and whether that size (and associated price tag) is appropriate.
    -Balance the budget

    So, um, no additional revenue, and won’t touch the 3 biggest programs, but they will balance the budget. Unless they propose to ax literally (Joe Biden) everything else (which I don’t see happening realistically) then the math simply doesn’t add up. You needn’t be conservative, libertarian, liberal, or whatever else to see that this just isn’t credible.

    1. -Not touch Social Security or Medicare

      I did not see a promise not to cut those…

      what page is that on?

      1. There is no mention of any actual plan for SS or the medical handouts. There is this crystal-clear gem though:

        That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.

        Let the freebies and ponzi schemes continue unabated!

        1. setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.

          does not equal

          Let the freebies and ponzi schemes continue unabated!

          l0phty, who are you? The designated thoreau bullshit apologist?

          I can appreciate that Republicans probably cannot do what they are promising to do…a veto stamp in the white house tells that story…but that fact is a far cry from attributing claims to their “Pledge” that are the exact opposite to what is actually written in the document.

          1. It doesn’t say “cut” anywhere in that paragraph now does it?

            Preventing the expansion does not equal cutting.

            Take a logic course or three.

  14. I like what they are saying. It has so much substance that ANYTHING Obowma has ever said in his entire life! If we were currently truly being governed by the principles in the pledge we would be in great shape.

    1. Whatever you are smoking, I want some.

  15. in addition to what Matt and others here have already said about the problems with the GOP manifesto, the Repubs also caved in to values voters again by putting themselves on a pedestal as the paragons & protectors of marriage and family. These dimwits still haven’t learned that by making all-inclusive proclamations of their group’s moral superiority, it only takes one of them to have a personal scandal for all of them to be labeled as hypocrites.

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