The Washington Post's Marc Fisher wrote a brief history of the Democrat and Republican party platforms for the front page on both Wednesday mornings of the party conventions. But last Wednesday's piece on the GOP was headlined "Over the past half-century, a strong shift to to the right." And for the Democrats, a strong shift to the left since 1960? The headline today was "In search of a balance between ideals and realities."
The Democrats in 1960 didn’t favor abortion on demand “regardless of ability to pay,” gay marriage "equality," and bringing “undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.” But Fisher portrayed the Democrats as much less "linear" in their ideological progression. Somehow, they haven't moved to the left in any consistent or noticeable way:
If Republicans from 1960 to today moved in fairly linear fashion to ever-more conservative stances on the economy, taxes and a slew of social issues, the Democratic evolution over the same period was a more jagged series of experiments with activist and statist approaches, interspersed with more traditional paeans to family, faith and individual initiative.
The contrast is especially egregious on gay issues. Fisher downplays "new ground" as the Democrats lurch left on "marriage equality."
This year's plank breaks little new ground, although for the first time, its support for legalizing same-sex marriage is definitive and clear, and it commits to combating anti-gay activity around the world.
When the Democrats embrace a new extreme, it's "definitive and clear." But last week, the Republican position was ever more "strident" in its opposition:
The '92 plank, the first to mention same-sex relationships, rejects any recognition of gay marriage or allowing same-sex couples to adopt children or become foster parents. The stand against adoption and foster care does not reappear.
The passage about marriage grows longer and more strident every four years, culminating in the 2004 call, echoed in 2008, for the amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. From 1996 through 2008, Republicans repeat that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service."
The Republicans have been transformed into a "conservative party that is suspicious of government, allied against abortion, and motivated by faith." But Fisher strangely ignored that Democrats have dropped any mention of God out of the 2012 platform. This is his version of the Republican platform language on religion:
Words such as "faith" and "heritage" rarely appear until the 1980s. (In 2000, religion plays an even larger role in the platform as the party goes beyond supporting prayer in public schools by seeking to allow them to post the Ten Commandments.)
His passage on the Democrats stops eight years short:
The words "faith" and "God," which appear only in passing or not at all in platforms from the 1960s through the '80s, can be found 18 times in the 2004 document, as in "We honor the central place of faith in the lives of our people."
There are still references to "faith," but "God" is too strong a word, apparently. It's a little funny to read "The first platform of the Barack Obama years proposes to cut poverty in half within a decade, using union organizing and transitional job programs." That looks odd now, with record-high food stamp spending and persistent poverty.
But Fisher ignores how Obama has shifted positions since 2008 on issues the administration has dropped as priorities:
It declares climate change "a national security crisis" and includes the strongest statement on civil liberties since the ’70s.
"We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens," the platform says. "We reject the tracking of citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. We reject torture. We reject sweeping claims of ‘inherent’ presidential power."
Fisher ignores that Democrats promised to close Guantanamo in 2008, and walked back from that in the 2012 platform, and doesn't notice, as leftists have, that there's no explicit reference in the new platform to Obama's use of drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists. We don't torture terror suspects, we kill them without interrogation? Fisher, like the rest of the media, doesn't notice Obama has been very forceful in using "inherent" presidential power.