Comparing Party Platforms

A close examination of each Party’s most recent Platform (2016) reveals its core beliefs and could provide a powerful indication of how that Party’s nominee will vote.

For your convenience, we have broken the lengthy party platforms into digestible portions based on topic and placed them side-by-side for comparison.


Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Platform has two overarching categories addressing safety: Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities (p. 13) and Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans (p. 30).
Democrats believe that everyone deserves the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. We know that there are barriers standing in the way of that goal, from the enduring scourge of systemic racism to our deeply broken immigration system to discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—and we are committed to facing those problems and fixing them. Being stronger together means reaching communities that have been left out and left behind for too long, from coal country to Indian Country to neighborhoods held back by multigenerational poverty. In America, we do not tear each other down—we lift each other up.
Reforming our Criminal Justice System (p. 13)
. . .Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. Research and evidence, rather than slogans and sound bites, must guide criminal justice policies.
We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. . .
We will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force. We will encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, and stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities. We will end racial profiling. . . We should report national data on policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability. We will require the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings, and we will support states and localities who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent. . . We will assist states in providing a system of public defense that is adequately resourced and which meets American Bar Association standards. And we will reform the civil asset forfeiture system. . .
Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society. . .
Whenever possible, Democrats will prioritize prevention and treatment over incarceration. . . We will build on effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs. . .
. . .we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization. We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana. . .
We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. . .
We have been inspired by the movements for criminal justice that directly address the discriminatory treatment of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians. . .

This section was shortened from 694 to 383 words. For full text, see page 13 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Democrats have been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and we are proud to be the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being stronger together means finally achieving that goal. We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We will tackle the problems that remain in our health care system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood. And we will tackle the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence, which each claim tens of thousands of lives every year.
Ending Violence Against Women (p. 34)
Democrats are committed to ending the scourge of violence against women wherever it occurs —whether in our homes, streets, schools, military, or elsewhere. We will continue to support the Violence Against Women Act to provide law enforcement with the tools it needs to combat this problem. We will support comprehensive services for survivors of violence and increase prevention efforts in our communities and on our campuses. Democrats will fight to bring an end to sexual assault—wherever it occurs, including on campuses— because everyone deserves a safe environment where they can learn and thrive, not live in fear. We will provide comprehensive support to survivors, and ensure a fair process for all on-campus disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system. We will increase sexual violence prevention education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has an overarching category addressing safety: Great American Families, Education, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice (p. 31)
Ensuring Safe Neighborhoods: Criminal Justice and Prison Reform (p. 39)
The men and women of law enforcement. . . deserve our gratitude and support. Their jobs are never easy, especially in crisis situations, and should not be made more difficult by politicized second-guessing from federal officials. . .
The next president must restore the public’s trust in law enforcement and civil order by first adhering to the rule of law himself. . . must not sow seeds of division and distrust between the police and the people they have sworn to serve and protect. . . must make clear in words and action that every human life matters.
Two grave problems undermine the rule of law on the federal level: Over-criminalization and over-federalization. . . Congress and federal agencies have increased the number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code from 3,000 in the early 1980s to more than 4,500 today. That does not include an estimated 300,000 regulations containing criminal penalties. . .
. . .we urge caution in the creation of new “crimes” and a bipartisan presidential commission to purge the Code and the body of regulations of old “crimes.” We call for mens rea elements in the definition of any new crimes to protect Americans who. . . act unknowingly or without criminal intent. We urge Congress to codify the Common Law’s Rule of Lenity, which requires courts to interpret unclear statutes in favor of a defendant.
. . .The essential role of federal law enforcement personnel in protecting federal property and combating interstate crime should not be compromised by diversion to matters properly handled by state and local authorities.
We applaud the Republican Governors and legislators who have been implementing criminal justice reforms. . . with diversion of first-time, nonviolent offenders to community sentencing, accountability courts, drug courts, veterans treatment courts, and guidance by faith-based institutions with proven track records of rehabilitation. . . restorative justice to make the victim whole and put the offender on the right path. . . we urge the Congress to learn from what works. In the past, judicial discretion about sentences led to serious mistakes. . . Mandatory minimum sentencing became an important tool. . . Modifications to it should be targeted toward particular categories. . . and should require disclosure by the courts of any judicial departure from the state’s sentencing requirements.
The constitutionality of the death penalty is firmly settled by its explicit mention in the Fifth Amendment. . . we condemn the Supreme Court’s erosion of the right of the people to enact capital punishment in their states. . . we call for mandatory prison time for all assaults involving serious injury to law enforcement officers.
We call on the Congress to make the federal courts a model for. . . protecting the rights of victims and their families. They should be told all relevant information about their case, allowed to be present for its trial, assured a voice in sentencing and parole hearings, given access to social and legal services, and benefit from the Crime Victims Fund established under President Reagan. . .
Public officials must regain control of their correctional institutions. . . Persons jailed for whatever cause should be protected against cruel or degrading treatment by other inmates. . . We encourage states to offer opportunities for literacy and vocational education to prepare prisoners for release to the community. Breaking the cycle of crime begins with the children of those who are prisoners. Deprived of a parent through no fault of their own, youngsters from these families should be a special concern of our schools, social services, and religious institutions.
The internet must not become a safe haven for predators. Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis. . . We en¬courage states to continue to fight this public men¬ace. . . We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography, which is closely linked to human trafficking.

This section was shortened from 999 to 648 words. For full text, see page 39 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.