The Most Fascinating Read of the Summer ... The Republican Party Platform of 2000

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Excerpts from the Republican Party Platform, 2000:

"The duties of our day are different. But the values of our nation do not change. Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power — or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness. This is the strong heart of America. And this will be the spirit of my administration."
- Governor George W. Bush...

Our powerful economy gives America a unique chance to confront persistent challenges....

A Uniter, Not a Divider

The twenty-fifth man to receive our party’s nomination is equal to the challenges facing our country. After a period of bitter division in national politics, our nominee is a leader who brings people together....

Cutting Spending

In the four decades from 1954 to 1994, government spending increased at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent, and the public’s debt increased from $224 billion to $3.4 trillion. Since 1994, with Republicans leading the House and Senate, spending has been held to an annual 3.1 percent rate of growth, and the nation’s debt will be nearly $400 billion lower by the end of this year. The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over ten years.

That wasn’t magic. It took honesty and guts from a Congress that manages the nation’s purse strings. That wasn’t magic. It took honesty and guts from a Congress that manages the nation’s purse strings. Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus. That’s what we mean by our Lock-Box: The Social Security surplus is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched. We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative....

We will reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House as a symbolic expression of our confidence in the restoration of the rule of law....

Honesty in Government

The rule of law, the very foundation for a free society, has been under assault, not only by criminals from the ground up, but also from the top down. An administration that lives by evasion, coverup, stonewalling, and duplicity has given us a totally discredited Department of Justice....

Social Security Must Be Saved!

The current administration has treated Social Security as a slogan rather than a priority, demanding billions for new government programs instead of attending to the stability of our most important domestic program. Even worse, their proposal to let the government buy stocks on behalf of the Social Security trust fund was an unprecedented power grab over the entire American economy. Doing nothing is no longer an option, for it leads to three bitter choices in the near future: crippling levels of payroll taxation, significantly reduced benefits for Social Security recipients, or a crushing burden of public debt for generations to come....

The Environmental President

Today’s Republican party stands in the proud tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, the first president to stress the importance of environmental conservation. We approach both the national and individual stewardship of natural resources in the spirit of his maxim:"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value."...

Energy: What happened? Eight years ago, the nation was energy confident. Our standing in the Middle East was at its zenith. The oil cartel was in retreat; gasoline was affordable, even as automotive progress reduced emissions from cars. Today, gas prices have skyrocketed, and oil imports are at all-time highs. Foreign oil now accounts for one-third of our total trade deficit. Meanwhile, domestic oil production has fallen 17 percent over the last eight years, as vast areas of the continental U.S. have been put off limits to energy leasing — though we depend on oil and natural gas for 65 percent of our energy supply. Additional oil reserves and deposits of low-sulfur coal may be out of reach because of unilateral designation of new national monuments....

Why the Future Holds So Much Promise

The Twenty-First Century opens with unique promise for the United States. Democratic values are celebrated on every continent. The productivity and ingenuity of American business are the envy of the world. American innovation is leading the way in the information age. New technology speeds an exchange of ideas that often bear the mark of American inspiration. No other great power challenges American international preeminence. There is every reason for Americans to be extraordinarily optimistic about their future....

In the last eight years the administration has squandered the opportunity granted to the United States by the courage and sacrifice of previous generations:

  • The administration has run America’s defenses down over the decade through inadequate resources, promiscuous commitments, and the absence of a forward-looking military strategy....
  • The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration’s diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries. ...
  • With weak and wavering policies toward Russia, the administration has diverted its gaze from corruption at the top of the Russian government, the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Chechnya, and the export of dangerous Russian technologies to Iran and elsewhere. ...
  • A generation of American efforts to slow proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has unraveled as first India and Pakistan set off their nuclear bombs, then Iraq defied the international community. Token air strikes against Iraq could not long mask the collapse of an inspection regime that had — until then — at least kept an ambitious, murderous tyrant from acquiring additional nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
  • A humanitarian intervention in Somalia was escalated thoughtlessly into nation-building at the cost of the lives of courageous Americans. ...

We can restore our country’s sense of international purpose and national honor....

Our Military Is Overstretched

Americans are justly proud of their armed forces. But today, only nine years after the tremendous victory in the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military faces growing problems in readiness, morale, and its ability to prepare for the threats of the future. The administration has cut defense spending to its lowest percentage of gross domestic product since before Pearl Harbor. At the same time, the current administration has casually sent American armed forces on dozens of missions without clear goals, realizable objectives, favorable rules of engagement, or defined exit strategies.

Over the past seven years, a shrunken American military has been run ragged by a deployment tempo that has eroded its military readiness. Many units have seen their operational requirements increased four-fold, wearing out both people and equipment. Only last fall the Army certified two of its premier combat divisions as unready for war because of underfunding, mismanagement, and over-commitment to peacekeeping missions around the globe. More Army units and the other armed services report similar problems. It is a national scandal that almost one quarter of our Army’s active combat strength is unfit for wartime duty....

We Need to Fix the CIA

In a time of fluid change and uncertainty, intelligence is truly America’s first line of defense. The current administration has weakened that defense by allowing a series of shocking security breaches, from blatant espionage and its virtual abandonment of national security-related export controls, to sheer sloppiness at the highest levels of government. This must stop, immediately. Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments. A Republican administration working with the Congress will respect the needs and quiet sacrifices of these public servants as it strengthens America’s intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities and reorients them toward the dangers of the future....

The Threat of WMD

Ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction threaten the world’s future. America is currently without defense against these threats. The administration’s failure to guard America’s nuclear secrets is allowing China to modernize its ballistic missile force, thereby increasing the threat to our country and to our allies. The theft of vital nuclear secrets by China represents one of the greatest security defeats in the history of the United States. The next Republican president will protect our nuclear secrets and aggressively implement a sweeping reorganization of our nuclear weapons program.

Over two dozen countries have ballistic missiles today. A number of them, including North Korea, will be capable of striking the United States within a few years, and with little warning. America is now unable to counter the rampant proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their missile delivery systems around the world.

The response of the current administration has been anachronistic and politicized. Stuck in the mindset and agreements of the Cold War and immune to fresh ideas, the administration has not developed a sensible strategy that responds to the emerging missile threat....

We will seek a negotiated change in the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty that will allow the United States to use all technologies and experiments required to deploy robust missile defenses....

In this context, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is another anachronism of obsolete strategic thinking. This treaty is not verifiable, not enforceable, and would not enable the United States to ensure the reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. It also does not deal with the real dangers of nuclear proliferation, which are rogue regimes — such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea — that seek to hide their dangerous weapons programs behind weak international treaties. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons, but we cannot wish them away with unwise agreements. Republicans in the Senate reacted accordingly and responsibly in rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

A new Republican president will renew America’s faltering fight against the contagious spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery. The weak leadership and neglect of the administration have allowed America’s intelligence capabilities, including space based systems, to atrophy, resulting in repeated proliferation surprises such as Iraq’s renewed chemical and biological weapons programs, India’s nuclear weapon test, and North Korea’s test of a three-stage ballistic missile. Again in a partnership with the Congress, a new Republican administration will give the intelligence community the leadership, resources, and operational latitude it requires....

NATO Has Been Damaged

The current administration has damaged the NATO alliance with years of insensitivity and episodic attention. In the Yugoslav war the administration bungled the diplomacy, misjudged the adversary, and ignored the advice of our military commanders. Even after NATO’s operations in Bosnia and Kosovo laid bare Europe’s lagging military capabilities, the administration failed to persuade the allies to enhance these capabilities. The next Republican administration will work to repair this damage....

Russia should also display such self-restraint in its shipments of sensitive nuclear and military technology to Iran. As long as Iran remains an international outlaw, preventing such transfers must be a priority for U.S. policy. Americans stand ready to cooperate with Russia in sharing technology for missile defense that can promote a more stable world, but Russia must also choose lasting stability over transitory profit and support the effort against proliferation....

We Need Coalitions in the Middle East

In the Middle East, the advancement of U.S. national interests requires clear and consistent priorities as well as close cooperation with America’s friends and allies. We have four priorities for the Middle East. First, we seek to promote and maintain peace throughout the region. Second, we must ensure that Israel remains safe and secure. Third, we must protect our economic interests and ensure the reliable flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. And fourth, we must reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the region. Because America cannot achieve these objectives by acting alone, U.S. policy must rest on leadership that can build strong coalitions of like-minded states and hold them together to achieve common aims.

As American influence declined during the current administration, the OPEC cartel drove up the price of oil. Anti-Americanism among the Arab people redoubled. Iran continued to sponsor international terrorism, oppose the Arab-Israeli peace process, and pursue nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile capabilities with extensive foreign assistance. America’s closest allies expanded their political and economic relations with Iran. A Republican president will work to reverse these damaging trends....

The Anti-Iraq Coalition Was Allowed to Disintegrate

Perhaps nowhere has the inheritance of Republican governance been squandered so fatefully as with respect to Iraq. The anti-Iraq coalition assembled to oppose Saddam Hussein has disintegrated. The administration has pretended to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, but did nothing when Saddam Hussein’s army smashed the democratic opposition in northern Iraq in August 1996. The administration also surrendered the diplomatic initiative to Iraq and Iraq’s friends, and failed to champion the international inspectors charged with erasing Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic missile programs. When, in late 1998, the administration decided to take military action, it did too little, too late. Because of the administration’s failures there is no coalition, no peace, and no effective inspection regime to prevent Saddam’s development of weapons of mass destruction.

A new Republican administration will patiently rebuild an international coalition opposed to Saddam Hussein and committed to joint action. We will insist that Iraq comply fully with its disarmament commitments. We will maintain the sanctions on the Iraqi regime while seeking to alleviate the suffering of innocent Iraqi people. We will react forcefully and unequivocally to any evidence of reconstituted Iraqi capabilities for producing weapons of mass destruction. In 1998, Congress passed and the president signed the Iraq Liberation Act, the clear purpose of which is to assist the opposition to Saddam Hussein. The administration has used an arsenal of dilatory tactics to block any serious support to the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella organization reflecting a broad and representative group of Iraqis who wish to free their country from the scourge of Saddam Hussein's regime. We support the full implementation of the Iraq Liberation Act, which should be regarded as a starting point in a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein and the restoration of international inspections in collaboration with his successor. Republicans recognize that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is impossible as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq.

It's Time to Confront Iran

All Americans hope that a new generation of Iranian leaders will rise to power seeking friendlier relations with the United States and a less threatening posture in the region. But Iran’s record of supporting terrorism, opposing the Middle East peace process, developing weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and its denial of human rights, most recently demonstrated in the trial and conviction of Iranian Jews on unfounded espionage charges, demonstrates that Tehran remains a dangerous threat to the United States and our interests in the region. The next Republican administration will form its policy toward Iran based on Iranian actions, not words. It will stop making unilateral gestures toward the Iranian government which, to date, have failed to result in a change in Iranian behavior. We will work to convince our friends and allies, most importantly the Europeans, to join us in a firm, common approach toward Iran....

Our Response to Terrorism Should Be Resolute but Not Impulsive

Republicans support a response to terrorism that is resolute but not impulsive. The most likely highly destructive terrorist attack remains a large bomb hidden in a car or truck. Yet, as with the rest of our defense posture, we must prepare for the most dangerous threats as well as the most likely ones. Therefore the United States must be extremely vigilant about the possibility that future terrorists might use weapons of mass destruction, which are increasingly available and present an unprecedented threat to America. In many instances the military will have to rethink it traditional doctrine and begin to focus on counterterrorism, human intelligence gathering, and unconventional warfare.

Republicans endorse the four principles of U.S. counterterrorism policy that were laid down originally by Vice President George Bush’s Commission on Combating Terrorism in 1985. First, we will make no concessions to terrorists. Giving in simply encourages future terrorist actions and debases America’s power and moral authority. Second, we will isolate, pressure, and punish the state sponsors of terrorism. Third, we will bring individual terrorists to justice. Past and potential terrorists will know that America will never stop hunting them. Fourth, we will provide assistance to other governments combating terrorism. Fighting international terrorism requires international collaboration. Once again, allies matter....

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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

We can anticipate the Rovian answer to this one.
It will appear in many guises. The essence is as follows:

9-11 happened therefore "everything has changed".

Inept leaders who ignore warnings are "heroes".

Draft dodgers are "war leaders".

"Fighting enemies of freedom" means detaining them
indefinitely them without charges, torturing them, and
constantly encouraging them to replenish their numbers.

"Regime change" means replacing senior tyrants with junior ones.

"Mission accomplished" means "in search of a plausible mission."

"Leadership" means never apologizing, never listening to critical advice, and launching a new marketing campaign whenever the old one flops.

"Strong economic leadership" means unprecedented white collar crime and a bankrupt treasury.

"Sound science" means fudging the evidence to fit prefabricated but test-marketed conclusions.

"Patriotism" means embracing ignorance.

"Family values" means whatever the latest opinion polls suggest the target audience might most gullibly and unthinking support.

"We will uphold our traditions" means we will support whatever our sponsoring "news" corporation tells us those traditions are.

"Winning the war" means obtaining a war the can never end; armies of occupation and mercenaries sent abroad to be shot at, blown up, and booby-trapped for the rest of our lives.

Welcome to the Republican Party of 2004. The first pro totalitarian party in the history of America.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Totalitarian" is certainly not a historically precise categorization (improvements hereby invited) but I don't think it is "silly" either. Once totalitarianism is clearly visible, it is too late to do anything about, and the path of the "ignorant by design" (the term is John Dean's) Bush II administration lies, I think, clearly in that direction. Amend my concluding statement along such lines, add a reference to the abuse of language ala 1984, and I would stand by the restated result

The point about Lincoln and Roosevelt encroaching on the constitution is perfectly valid in a limited sense, but it does not consider historical context. Roosevelt and Lincoln presided over major world-changing (and justified) wars. Bush is pretending to preside over a bungled occupation disguised as a war. If we are to resort to terms such as "breathless rhetoric", I would suggest that any mention of a diplomatic midget like Dubya alongside of towering giants like FDR and Honest Abe, might be a better candidate for the application of such terminology.


Graham Hick - 9/6/2004

Yet in order for a message to be broadly spread, it needs to be simple and perhaps emotionally charged. This is an administration that caters to smaller souls, thus, in my opinion, the best way to combat that is to use their tactics, and their words, against them. Fight fire with fire. The Right has framed the argument and focused on simple messages to great success for many years. The Left has wimpered and waffled, afraid to lower themselves. Now it's almost too late, and lowering ones self to a more successful posture seems to be the only option left.

Totalitarian, fascist, evil, whatever works to get the message across. Most people aren't interested in subtlties and philosophical consistency, so why keep trying to give it to them? To quote the evil capitalist and enemy of labor Marshall Field, "sell the lady what she wants".

Don Adams - 9/5/2004

Totalitarianism is a real practice with real consequences. Its real victims, who number in the billions, would not list "workplace ergonomics" as one of its hallmarks. I am no supporter of the Bush Administration, and I agree that it has used all the tools at its disposal -- including, as you say, judicial selection and scientific research -- in pursuit of its goals. But that hardly merits such expressions as "totalitarianism" or "imposing a radical agenda." All administrations use such tools, and indeed doing so is the very essence of liberal politics.

My argument is that there is a difference between being wrong and being evil, and I believe that it is dangerous when people fail to make that distinction. It was not enough, for example, for Republicans to disagree with Bill Clinton, and to serve as the loyal opposition; they villified him until neither they nor their followers could see him as anything but a caricature, and the weakness this created in his Presidency was at least one small reason we were so vulnerable to Al-Qaeda on 9/11.

Making a respectful and nuanced argument against one's political opponents is more difficult than, say, name calling, but that is what civil society and representative democracy require. I say disagree with George Bush all you like, but leave the hyperbole to smaller souls.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/5/2004

To supplement Mr. Clarke's point:

The Bush administration, though, it not just claiming emergency powers related to the crisis at hand. They are imposing radical policy on a moderate population in areas as far afield from terror and security as workplace ergonomics, judicial selection, and scientific research. Not to mention their counterintuitive moves in areas of diplomacy, nuclear weapons, privatization of security screeners, etc.

Don Adams - 9/4/2004

While I agree with a number of your individual characterizations of the Bush Administration, your comment that the Republican Party is the "first pro totalitarian party in the history of America" is just silly. The Bush Administration is neither the first nor even the most notable example of an administration claiming special powers for itself in a time of crisis. Lincoln and Roosevelt both actively accumulated far greater powers over the government and the nation than has Bush, up to and including obviating the Constitution.
Andrew Jackson, without even the excuse of a crisis, simply ignored Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution whenever he saw fit. One may agree or disagree with the Bush Administration, but such breathless and factually untrue rhetoric diminishes the broader debate of which it is a part.