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The Six Strangest Items in the GOP Party Platform

The GOP’s party platform, on which the delegates will vote tonight, is not yet out in full. Of course, drafts of it have already leaked to various outlets.

Much of it is unsurprising. The draft platforms promise, among other things, that a Republican administration would defend DOMA in federal court, support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and require a supermajority for new taxes (except in cases of war and national emergencies). The draft also adopts Paul Ryan’s controversial plans to convert Medicare to a voucher system.

But some of it offers glimpses of the specific methods Republicans hope to use to remake the federal government. Below, some of the most interesting changes a Republican administration and Congress would hope to usher in.

Apply the Fourteenth Amendment to unborn children

The GOP party platform supports a Constitutional amendment banning abortion:

“We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the [Fourteenth Amendment’s] protections apply to unborn children.”

The platform does not specify at what point in a pregnancy the unborn child would be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment—but in the minds of conservatives who support the expansion of the Constitution in this way, the Supreme Court can pick any moment, leading all the way back to conception.

No women in combat

The GOP’s platform reaffirms its support of women’s advancement in the military—just not through the military’s most fundamental function, direct combat. From a draft of the platform obtained by Politico:

“We support the advancement of women in the military, which has not only opened doors of opportunity for individuals but has also made possibly the devoted, often heroic, services of additional members of every branch of the Armed Forces. We support military women’s exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.”

Elaine Donnelly, the president of the conservative Center for Military Readiness who helped draft the GOP platform, praised the measure last week in Human Events, likening the current administration’s approach social experimentation. (Under President Obama, the Pentagon slightly loosened restrictions on women serving in dangerous missions.)

Science, subject to a vote

That Republicans are deeply dismayed by EPA and OSHA regulations put in place by the Obama administration is no secret. But now, their platform makes clearer how they would actually reign in those agencies. For one, they endorse legislation requiring Congressional approval for all new major regulations.

A critic of this proposal might say that regulations belong in the domain of experts—particularly the kind of scientifically complex regulations that come out of the EPA. But if that doesn’t convince you, remember: Rep. Todd Akin, who believes that the female body can naturally prevent pregnancy in cases of rape, sits on Congress’s science and technology committee.

Bring back the gold standard?

Perhaps thanks to the fervor of Ron Paul acolytes, one plank of the GOP platform calls for an inquiry into the pros and cons of pegging our currency to a gold standard. I’ll leave it to Matt O’Brien, The Atlantic’s senior gold-hater, to explain why that’s an empirically terrible idea.

Voter ID laws in the clear

While Democrats are fretting that voter ID laws, which discriminate against minority voters, will cost them this presidential election, Republicans are already thinking of the future of these laws. Under a Republican administration, the draft platform promises, the Department of Justice “will stop abusing its preclearance authority to block photo-ID voting laws.”

Clamping down on the District

One draft of the Republican party’s platform roundly rejects affirmative action for minorities achieved through “quotas and set-asides.” Unless, that is, we’re talking about Republicans in the District of Columbia—then it’s OK.

For the uninitiated, under current law, D.C. must set aside two at-large seats on its city council for members of “minority parties”—i.e., non-Democrats. Due to the city’s overwhelming identification with the Democratic party, these two at-large council members are often Democrats thinly disguised as Independents.

But some cryptic language on minority representation in the GOP’s draft platform suggests that they find the city’s choice of at-large members unacceptable. In response, they support unspecific “congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act ensuring assuring minority representation on the City Council.”

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