Nailing down the platforms

Posted August 22, 2012

— So, can you guess what this is? 

(Scroll down a bit to the funny looking triangle thing.) 

Yes, the title of this post was kind of a hint. 

It's a word cloud developed from the North Carolina Libertarian Party's 2012 Platform.

Parties, particularly party activists, go to a great deal of time and trouble to develop their platforms. It seems unrewarding since you hardly ever hear candidates refer back to it and when they come up in news stories, it's usually about when a candidate breaks from the party orthodoxy. (See recent stories on Mitt Romney and the GOP's position on abortion.)

Still, you will hear a fair amount over the next few weeks about party platforms with the Republican and Democratic national conventions kicking off in Tampa and Charlotte. 

And recently, Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam sent along his comparison of the NC Republican Party and NC Democratic Party platforms. Thus inspired, it seemed like a good time to take a quick look at what the parties say they're standing for.

The Republican Party platform doesn't offer that many surprises. It's heavy on language endorsing abortion restrictions, talks up economic freedom, gives a nod to second amendment rights and says "government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions." Somewhat unusually, it weighs in on legislative procedure, saying "Every bill heard in committee should receive a recorded vote. The budget bill should be made public at least two legislative days before the final vote in each house." That bit about recorded votes was not followed over the past two years during which Republicans controlled the House and Senate.

Or if you want it in a nutshell, the GOP platform looks like this in a word cloud: 

As for the Democratic Party platform, it too should produce few surprises. It spends a lot of time on policies to protect individuals, decries racism and sexism, explicitly supports public schools and contains a long section on voting rights. On taxes it reads: "We believe that all taxes - especially those that fall hardest on middle-class and poor families - should be kept as low as is possible, consistent with the maintenance of an appropriate level of government services." 

As a word cloud, it looks like this:

Of course, you could be boring and look at the platforms this way:

Comparison of the N.C. Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties platforms.
Abortion"Unborn children have Constitutional rights to life and liberty. We urge the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. We support a human life amendment. We oppose efforts to mandate the provision of abortion or to fund with taxpayer dollars organizations that provide or promote abortion services.""Furthermore, abortion must be safe, legal, accessible to all North Carolina women regardless of ability to pay; therefore, the State abortion fund should be fully funded and accessible to indigent women."Not specifically mentioned, but a section on making adoption easier reads: "Easily available adoption will significantly lower abortion and child abuse. We support the rights of individuals and non-traditional families to adopt."
Gun Rights"The Second Amendment and Section 30 of the North Carolina Declaration of Rights guarantee the right of the individual to keep and bear arms. We support the ownership, sale, purchase and “lawful carry” of firearms by law-abiding citizens."The platform doesn't specifically deal with gun ownership or carry rights."The LPNC acknowledges every individual’s inalienable right to choose to own and carry firearms or other means of self-defense, without government licensing, registration, monitoring, or interference of any kind."
Taxes"To protect this inherent right, government ought to provide an environment for individual initiative and enterprise unencumbered by excessive regulation and taxation....The government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions. Government should not use the tax system to control our behavior, steer our choices or change the way we live our lives. North Carolinians pay the highest tax rates in the southeast which is hurting industrial growth, imposing economic pressure on families and crushing the entrepreneurial spirit. We support zero-based budgeting and a taxpayer’s bill of rights. We applaud the efforts of the North Carolina General Assembly to reduce spending.""Government services are not free. We believe that all taxes - especially those that fall hardest on middle-class and poor families - should be kept as low as is possible, consistent with the maintenance of an appropriate level of government services. The use of a progressive tax system is the only way to fairly pay for the government services needed to build a solid foundation for our future economic security. We oppose reliance on regressive taxes, which unfairly burden the poor and the middle class. We believe that any future changes in the tax laws should increase the progressivity of our tax system.""Taxation is by its very nature a coercive and destructive act against the people. All people have the basic right to keep the fruits of their labor and enterprise. The costs of government should be paid for by voluntary means only."
Gas Drilling"We support energy security and energy independence. A comprehensive energy policy includes offshore and on-shore oil and natural gas, nuclear power, coal, solar, wind, and alternative fuels that do not adversely impact the food supply. We support efforts to develop oil and natural gas through safe, clean, hydraulic fracturing.""We recognize that our coast is an outstanding natural resource that must be protected for future generations of North Carolinians. We oppose any offshore exploration for oil or natural gas adjacent to this State.""Gas drilling or fracking are not specifically mentioned, but sections on the environment read: "The basis for effective environmental protection is found in upholding property rights. The LPNC calls for the repeal of any laws that inhibit owners from taking action to legally protect and defend their property....Pollution is a violation of rights and should be treated as such. Polluters, either public or private, should be required to make full compensation for any personal injuries or property damages that they cause. Criminal penalties are appropriate only when deliberate or willfully negligent pollution poses a serious threat or causes serious harm to innocent people or their property."
Immigration"Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels and criminal gangs, unidentified persons who enter this country pose grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States. Furthermore, the Federal government should enforce its immigration laws.""We recognize that we are a nation of immigrants. We have consistently fought for the rights of working immigrants. Immigrants are a vital part of North Carolina’s progress. We believe the State should provide access to important information about State services and benefits in the primary language of legal immigrants but with a goal toward English proficiency.

While we recognize that immigration laws are enacted at the federal level, our State government and grassroots citizens can impact such policies by influencing our federal representatives to strengthen our national borders, protect homeland security, and to enforce existing laws while honoring our shared humanity. We strive for a just and comprehensive immigration law which includes a path to citizenship for hard-working, tax-paying immigrants that have contributed to making our State great."

"The LPNC welcomes immigrants to our state. There should be no laws that set different standards for immigrants and non-immigrants. People who are not citizens should enjoy equal treatment under the law."
Voting"1. A free society demands an honest and accurate election process. Our laws and our policies at every level of government should insure both.
2. We support legislation requiring poll judges at all election sites.
3. We support state-wide procedures for updating voter rolls to insure accuracy.
4. We support photo identification to deter voter fraud.
9. We encourage state and federal prosecutors to promptly investigate and prosecute voter fraud."
"Voting rights are fundamental rights because they are protective of all other rights. We will work to fully protect and enforce the fundamental Constitutional right of every American to vote—to ensure that the Constitution’s promise is fully realized...we oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote, which create discriminatory barriers to the right to vote and disenfranchise many eligible voters; and we oppose tactics which purge eligible voters from voter rolls. We are committed to passing the Count Every Vote Act.....We support greater enforcement efforts to eliminate voter fraud. However, elections officials shall immediately inform all individuals denied their ability to vote of their right to cast a provisional ballot. We vigorously support efforts to ensure the right to vote for all citizens without discrimination or intimidation. We also encourage efforts to increase the turnout of North Carolina's voting-age population. "Access to the ballot should be open to all constitutionally qualified candidates. All candidates for a given office should be held to the same requirements, regardless of party affiliation. The people should have easy access to state their will to the government through as many democratic methods as possible, including, but not limited to, initiative, referendum, recall, proportional representation, and write-in votes."
K-12 Education"1. Parents have the right to educate their children. As dictated by the N.C. Constitution, the state has the responsibility to provide it. Parents should expect excellent public education. All children should have access to an education that empowers them to reach their full God-given potential and contribute to the betterment of our society.
2. Choice and competition insure quality education. We support tax credits for parents who educate their children in private or home schools.
3. We oppose caps on charter schools. Quality public charter schools should be encouraged.
4. Education reform requires local control of curriculum, budget, textbooks and personnel. Parents must have access to all curricula.
6. It is an appropriate goal for students to perform at grade level. Every effort should be made to ensure that all students learn to the greatest extent of their abilities. A high school diploma should mean that a student is fully prepared to enter college, technical school or the workforce...."
"We support the principles behind Head Start, Smart Start and More at Four programs: Our young deserve the tools they need for success in school and in life....We support superior educational opportunities for all North Carolina children, including efforts to reduce class size, and increased support for home-to-school transition programs. We support emphasizing the fundamental skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic while exposing children to innovative ideas, information about other cultures, and advancement in technology. We applaud the teaching of effective citizenship, civic involvement, and legal and social responsibility. We believe that every child in North Carolina should have equal access to all educational opportunities. We support the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education and believe that racial segregation of our schools is incompatible with equal opportunity for all. We support adequate funding for construction and maintenance of school facilities. as well as equipment and support services for at risk students and for after school programs in our public schools. We oppose any under funded or unfunded federal mandates, such as “No Child Left Behind.” All children have the right to a public education that respects their religious freedom and traditions. We believe that any governmental mandates should be accompanied by appropriate funds by the mandating entity. Furthermore, we support the Leandro decision and full funding by the General Assembly to comply with it.""The LPNC supports any attempt by parents and students to take control of their education. The state should uphold its NC constitutional mandate to ensure that children have access to a quality education by lifting the burden of regulation from private education and home schooling and by allowing as much school choice as possible."
Gay marriage"The ideal environment for raising children is a two-parent family with a mother and father who are married and committed to that life-long relationship. We support policies and laws that encourage the stability of marriage. We oppose taxpayer-funded initiatives that support cohabitation, include taxpayer-funded benefit plans for unmarried partners....We oppose adoption by same sex couples....We support federal and State constitutional amendments to limit marriage to the union of one man and one woman.""We support marriage equality and domestic partnerships. We therefore call for repeal of the constitutional amendment known as NC Constitutional Amendment 1, voted on and passed in May 2012...Government must respect individual liberties and refrain from intruding into our private lives and interfering with our personal decisions.""The idea that governments should give “license” or permission for marriage is inconsistent with the principles of liberty. A person’s union with another is of no concern of the state except for the purpose of establishing next of kin and for that purpose, all adults must be treated equally. Accordingly, the LPNC calls for the state to leave marriage to religious institutions or private contracts and to repeal or amend all laws making distinctions based on a state of marriage.


The government has absolutely no place telling consenting adults which adults they can love or how they can love one another. The LPNC calls for the immediate repeal of all laws that encourage or discourage any consensual sexual or family relationships."

Mental Health  "The mental health system needs to be reformed. The needs of patients must be the first priority. This requires diagnosis, comprehensive care, follow-up, and stiff penalties for those who abuse or exploit patients.""We support a mental health system that provides access to appropriate treatment for mental, behavioral, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse. Such a system must provide a comprehensive array of services that emphasizes community-based treatment offering equal access for those in need. There should be equivalent insurance coverage for all physical and mental health disorders." 
Healthcare"Wise health choices are best made by individuals guided by sound medical opinion. We urge Congress to repeal of the federally mandated the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Choice and information will allow a reduction in costs. We support medical savings accounts which combine personal responsibility with access to affordable healthcare.... We support health care freedom to encourage disease prevention and to reduce costs. Legal barriers to competition among insurers and health care should be eliminated.""We encourage healthy lifestyles. Health care issues such as teen smoking and youth obesity cost taxpayers heavily in medical costs and associated costs. Moreover, we recognize that health care decisions are best made within the context of the healthcare provider and the patient. Thus, we believe that each person has the right to choose his or her own physician without interference from government or insurance companies. We support health care reform that provides universal and portable coverage, expanded preventive health care, and public efforts to provide the prenatal care needed to reduce infant mortality....We North Carolina Democrats authored and continue to support the Patients’ Bill of Rights, established to improve the relationship between patients, doctors and insurance companies.""The LPNC calls on government to get out of the healthcare industry entirely. When people are allowed free choice, they will be more able to choose the care they want at a price they can afford. We advocate a compassionate approach towards those currently dependent on government healthcare, and would take care to not increase their suffering in pursuit of this goal."



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