As most readers of this blog undoubtedly know, David Frum was a speechwriter for George W. Bush. These days, he is a “Never Trumper” who contributes to The Atlantic, and he has weighed in on the GOP’s decision to forego a platform in 2020.
Frum says that, despite their reluctance to publish a document outlining where the party stands, there is, in fact, wide agreement among party members on a number of policies.
The Republican Party of 2020 has lots of ideas. I’m about to list 13 ideas that command almost universal assent within the Trump administration, within the Republican caucuses of the U.S. House and Senate, among governors and state legislators, on Fox News, and among rank-and-file Republicans.
As Frum sees it, the question isn’t why the GOP lacks policies to put in a platform. The question is, why is the party so reluctant to publish the policies that virtually all today’s Republicans support? The answer to that question becomes pretty obvious when Frum lists the thirteen areas of substantial Republican agreement.
1. The first–no surprise–is reducing taxes on the rich. (That seems to be the sum total of Republican economic policy.)
2. Cutting taxes has been Republican policy for many years; Frum’s second “plank,” however, is new. The GOP overwhelmingly subscribes to the belief that the coronavirus is a “much-overhyped problem” that will soon burn itself out. Since it’s overhyped and “just a flu,”states should reopen their economies as rapidly as possible. (The casualties that ensue are a cost worth paying.) And wearing masks is useless.
3.Speaking of “overhyped”–Republicans overwhelmingly believe that climate change isn’t a real problem. They doubt that it is happening, but even if it is, they’re confident that it will be countered by the technologies of tomorrow. Meanwhile,” regulations to protect the environment unnecessarily impede economic growth.”
4.. China is our enemy, and our relations with China should be assessed as “zero sum.” “When China wins, the U.S. loses, and vice versa.”
5. Speaking of foreign policy, our longstanding alliances are outdated.
The days of NATO and the World Trade Organization are over. The European Union should be treated as a rival, the United Kingdom and Japan should be treated as subordinates, and Canada, Australia, and Mexico should be treated as dependencies.
6. Health care is a consumer good, and people should make their own best deals. The government shouldn’t be involved in making rules for the insurance market. People who can pay more should get more, and people who can’t pay will just have to rely on Medicaid, accept charity, or go without.
7. Voting isn’t a right; it’s a privilege.
States should have wide latitude to regulate that privilege in such a way as to minimize voting fraud, which is rife among Black Americans and new immigrant communities. The federal role in voting oversight should be limited to preventing Democrats from abusing the U.S. Postal Service to enable fraud by their voters.
8. Racism is no longer a real problem, but “reverse racism” is.
9. The courts should eliminate the notion that a woman has a constitutional right to sexual privacy, or control over her own body.
10. The post-Watergate ethics reforms were too strict, and conflict-of-interest rules simply keep wealthy, successful businesspeople from entering public service. The Trump administration has met all reasonable ethical standards.
11. Build the wall! If immigrants do manage to enter the country, delay citizenship as long as possible.
12. Aside from a few “bad apples,” the policeman is your friend. Lawlessness is a result of groups like Black Lives Matter.
13. In the face of the “unfair onslaught” against President Donald Trump by the media and the “deep state,” his “occasional” excesses should be excused as pardonable reactions.
Frum says that this tacit platform works–to the extent it does– by motivating Trump supporters, exciting the remaining Republican base. If it were to be spelled out, however, even in an abbreviated form, as I have done above, it would invite backlash among a majority of Americans.
As Frum says, “This is a platform for a party that talks to itself, not to the rest of the country. And for those purposes, the platform will succeed most to the extent that it is communicated only implicitly, to those receptive to its message.”
Unbelievable as it is, a substantial minority of voters find these positions rational, even inspiring. That minority will work for the election of candidates wedded to these positions, and they will vote. Those of us who see this “platform” as appalling absolutely must turn out in great numbers. We have to defeat the efforts to suppress our votes. We have to vote early, vote absentee, or mask up and march to our polling places on election day–whatever it takes.
Get out the vote has never been more important. America’s future depends on turnout.