• Range Writing

Your Party, Your Choice Part 1: The GOP Platform

The GOP has become the minority party in Congress. We lost the Senate, the House, and the Presidency. I believe that the divisions within our party are becoming stronger than the ties that bind us. The choice is this: Do we want to perpetuate these divisions, or do we want to strengthen the party by welcoming other Republicans within our ranks?

If we continue to perpetuate divisions, I believe it will continue to weaken the Republican party as a whole. Some Republicans will no longer be active in party functions and making supportive contributions, and some will even drop their affiliation because they feel alienated. It won’t be because they are joining another party, but because they belong to this party but now feel unwelcome.

Some of you will say that’s fine, that these people are just RINOs. We all know that is a derogatory term that expresses no regret for the alienation of many traditional Republicans. They may have views that differ from yours, but they are Republicans.

Are you willing to have diverse views in this party, views that don’t perfectly align with yours? What if these people share the same core values and principles that this party is based on, but you disagree with them on the finer points of a policy? Are you willing to welcome these people and their views, or are they to be regarded as RINOs, whose opinions should be excluded? For traditional Republicans, are you willing to serve alongside others who are more conservative than you, or will you dismiss their views outright as too extreme?

Is it possible to find a middle ground? Can we be hosted under one big tent once again? While I personally support the big-tent philosophy, and know others who don’t, the platform itself is what provides for unity or division, so Iet’s start there.

The Platform

The basic platform of the Wyoming Republican Party (adopted unanimously in June 2020) has been altered to take a hardline stance on numerous issues, in a way that is problematic to many traditional Republican members. For example, while we all acknowledge our Second Amendment rights, under the current platform the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms has been amended to include the right to ammunition. While our Constitution says the right to bear arms cannot be infringed, the platform now says that our right to keep both firearms and ammunition shall not be infringed, restricted, or denied.

The current platform doesn’t include a provision for any restriction of rights to both guns and ammo for any reason. That means all individuals – including convicted felons, and those adjudicated to be a danger to themselves and others – can carry loaded firearms into schools, government meetings, or anywhere else they want. According to the platform, their ability to do so “shall not be infringed, restricted, or denied.” Do you support this policy statement as written, or do you believe that this position (Plank 3 in the current platform) needs some work?

That same platform plank says that individuals “must never be prevented from defending life, liberty, or property.” This could be interpreted as justifying killing people who work in a clinic that performs abortions, i.e., in defense of life. Does it also mean that this party believes that it’s acceptable to shoot a trespasser in an open pasture, since that is defense of property? Do you support this current GOP policy as written, or do you believe it needs some work?

We all agree that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are foundational. But the current GOP platform has amended those words in a way that we lose Republican support. For example, rather than affirming the eloquent words of the Declaration of Independence that all individuals “are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” “to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the platform adds the unalienable right to property, and declares that all these rights exist “from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.” The logistical, legal, and moral nightmare that enacting this policy could cause is beyond imaging, such as: to what property does the fetus have a right; how do we separate the property right held by the fetus from the individual rights of the human woman carrying that fetus; and how to determine if a fetus is able to pursue happiness within the womb.

Unalienable means “cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred to another person.” Since property is a possession, which is often transferred in commerce, it logically can’t be “unalienable,” but the platform claims that it is.

As if that isn’t complicated enough, the platform puts the safeguarding of this huge bundle of rights into the hands of government while declaring, “The only purpose of government is to protect these rights for all.” In other words, the purpose of government is not to do what we as individuals cannot do well for ourselves (such as law enforcement, fire protection, public road maintenance, administration of government, etc.), but to protect things like the property rights and pursuit of happiness of that aforementioned fetus.

Do you support this current GOP policy as written (Plank 1 in the current platform), or do you believe it needs some work?

Numerous planks in this platform have been amended in similar problematic ways. The Constitution’s equal protection clause has been written into the platform to only apply to citizens of the United States, rather than to all individuals as granted by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. That means that according to our party, even legally present residents and visitors who are not citizens should not have equal protection under the law, and it is acceptable to deprive them of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

Do you support this current GOP policy as written (Plank 2 in the current platform), or do you believe it needs some work?

I am inviting feedback on these first three planks, and how they might be improved. I don’t want to be talking into an echo chamber, so If you like the planks the way they are, then say so. If you have ideas on how to improve the planks, let's hear them.

I do have basic ground rules for comments:

1. No calling people names, being vulgar, or engaging in personal attacks.

2. This discussion of the party platform has nothing to do with former President Donald J. Trump or U.S. Representative Cheney, so don’t even go there.

3. Stay on topic. How would you amend these planks to improve them? Suggestions for specific wording are welcome.

4. No anonymous comments. Put your name with your words. If you don’t want to post your feedback publicly, you can send an email to rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

Thanks for engaging in this effort, and for considering how we might join together to improve our political party.

{The author, Cat Urbigkit, is a Republican from Sublette County, Wyoming.}

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