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.

Support Our Troops

Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Platform has an overarching category addressing Support Our Troops: Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veteran (p. 36).
Democrats believe America must continue to have the strongest military in the world. Donald Trump has called our military “a disaster.” We reject that view of our brave men and women in serving in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. They perform admirably while sacrificing immeasurably.
Defense Spending (p. 36)
We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration. We must prioritize military readiness by making sure our Active, Reserve, and National Guard components remain the best trained and equipped in the world. We will seek a more agile and flexible force and rid the military of outdated Cold War-era systems.

We must end waste in the defense budget. We will audit the Pentagon, launch a high-level commission to review the role of defense contractors, and take greater action against those who have been involved in fraud. And we will ensure that the Department of Defense invests its budget wisely.

Veterans and Service Members (p. 36)
. . .We must take care of those who have put their lives on the line to defend us. . . we will push for more educational benefits and job training, end chronic homelessness and combat suicide, and protect and preserve the post-9/11 GI Bill for future generations. . . ensure that reservists and Guard members are treated fairly when it comes to employment, health, education benefits, deployment, and reintegration.
We are outraged by the systemic problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We will fight for every veteran to have timely access to high-quality health care and timely processing of claims and appeals. . . make certain the VA provides veteran-centric care, such as providing women with full and equal treatment, including reproductive health services; expanding mental health programs; continuing efforts to identify and treat invisible, latent, and toxic wounds of war; treating post-traumatic stress; and expanding the post-9/11 veteran’s caregiver program to include all veterans.
We reject. . . privatizing the VA. We believe that the VA must be fully resourced so that every veteran gets the care that he or she has earned and deserves, including those suffering from sexual assault, mental illness and other injuries or ailments.

This section was shortened from 234 to 202 words. For full text, see page 36 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Military Families (p. 37)
Democrats honor the sacrifice of military families who serve alongside our service members. We recognize the unique concerns and challenges they face, especially after 15 years of continuous deployments. We will support military families with jobs, education, childcare, and health care. We will promote family-friendly policies and champion efforts to care for our military family members, especially for the spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of a loved one or life-altering injury or disability.
A Strong Military (p. 37)
Democrats welcome and honor all Americans who want to serve and will continue to fight for their equal rights and recognition. We are proud of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and we commit ourselves to insuring fair treatment for LGBT veterans, including by proactively reviewing and upgrading discharge records for veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation. We are also proud of the opening of combat positions to women. Our military is strongest when people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities are honored for their service to our country.

Democrats are committed to addressing the scourge of military sexual assault. We must increase efforts to prevent sexual assault and rape, and aggressively investigate and prosecute allegations. And we must make sure victims receive timely, appropriate and comprehensive treatment for physical, emotional, and psychological trauma resulting from sexual assault.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has an overarching category addressing Support Our Troops: America Resurgent (p. 41)
Supporting Our Troops: Resources to do Their Job (p. 42)
We owe it to the American people and to those who fight our wars that we remain the strongest military on earth and be prepared to defeat any adversary under any circumstances on any battlefield. . . Successive years of cuts to our defense budget have put an undue strain on our men and women in uniform. This is especially harmful at a time when we are asking our military to do more in an increasingly dangerous world. . . We support lifting the budget cap for defense. . . should work together to approve military spending at the level necessary to defend our country. . . America’s incredible talent and ingenuity must be unleashed by modernizing the military procurement system and embracing competition among traditional and non-traditional suppliers. Competitive acquisition and maintenance of weapon systems. . . will benefit the U.S. economy, U.S. taxpayers, and most important, the American warfighter. Increased competition will enable new Department of Defense suppliers. . . to participate in the defense sector. That will promote new demand for skilled-labor jobs, while making the Department’s procurement more cost-efficient. The increased agility and effectiveness will ensure that our troops are equipped with the right resources more quickly. . .

This section was shortened from 261 to 203 words. For full text, see page 42 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Supporting Our Troops: Standing by Our Heroes (p. 43)
. . .The National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 begins to correct the shortfalls in our military readiness by reversing troop cuts, increasing investments in training and maintenance, and rebuilding facilities. . . this represents a sound start in supporting those who put their lives on the line in defense of our country, while protecting our national security in a dangerous world.
Military families must be assured of the pay, healthcare, housing, education, and overall support they have earned. In recent years, they have been carrying the burden of budgetary restraint more than any other Americans. . . About 75 percent of enlistees come from military families. We cannot expect that level of patriotic commitment to continue among young people who have experienced the way their families have been treated.
We must ensure that the nation keeps its commitments to those who signed on the dotted line of enlistment. The repeated troop deployments during conflicts in the Middle East have been unusually hard on all members of their households. . . We must strengthen existing programs that offer families readjustment information and counseling, and we urge states to help by providing job programs, license reciprocity, one-stop service centers, and education.
The burden of our country’s extended military involvement in the Middle East has taken a toll on our service personnel. Suicides among our military. . . are at shocking levels, while post-service medical conditions, including addiction and mental illness, require more and more assistance. More than ever, our government must work with the private sector to advance opportunities and provide assistance to those wounded in spirit as well as in body. . .
We support the rights of conscience of military chaplains of all faiths to practice their faith free from political interference. . . We support an increase in the size of the Chaplain Corps. . . will protect the religious freedom of all military members. . . will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities. . . will also encourage education regarding the religious liberties of military personnel. . .
Our country’s all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose the reinstatement of the draft, except in dire circumstances like world war. . . We support the all-volunteer force and oppose unnecessary policy changes, including compulsory national service and Selective Service registration of women for a possible future draft. We reiterate our support for both the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions. We affirm the cultural values that encourage selfless service and superiority in battle. . . Military readiness should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. We oppose legislative attempts to modify the system of military justice that would undermine its fairness and due process rights for all concerned. . .

This section was shortened from 744 to 472 words. For full text, see page 43 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Citizen Soldiers: National Guard and Reserves (p. 44)
. . .September 11, 2001, the National Guard has transformed from a strategic reserve to a fully integrated operational fighting force. The Guard has bled on missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and the Sinai. Today, more than fifty percent of our Guardsmen have combat experience. The Guard has demonstrated its value to the nation not only in war but during emergencies here at home such as Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy.
To avoid the overextension of our military, we support a larger active force and oppose. . . cuts to the National Guard and Reserves. Those reductions are dangerous and counter-productive because the men and women of the Guard and Reserve tend to be older and more experienced than their active duty counterparts. Guard and Reserve forces are currently deployed at historically high rates. The Army Reserve alone has soldiers in 30 countries. To its credit, the Republican Congress, by passing the National Defense Authorization Act, has moved to ensure these troops have what they need. . . we recommend a permanent line item for National Guard affairs. . . The guard is too essential to our national defense to be a secondary decision.

This section was shortened from 313 to 196 words. For full text, see page 44 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Honoring and Supporting Our Veterans: A Sacred Obligation (p. 44)
. . . our obligation to the one percent who defend the other ninety-nine percent does not end when they take off the uniform. . . we are committed to ensuring them and their families’ care and dignity. The work of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is essential to meet our commitments. . . Providing health, education, disability, survivor, and home loan benefits, and arranging memorial services upon death. . .
. . .The VA has failed those who have sacrificed the most for our freedom. The VA must move. . . to an advocacy relationship with vets. . . we will empower the Secretary to hold all VA employees accountable and will seek fundamental change in the VA’s senior leadership structure. . . We cannot allow an unresponsive bureaucracy to blunt our national commitment. The VA must strengthen and improve its efforts through partnerships with private enterprises, veteran service organizations, technology and innovation, and competitive bidding. . . Therefore, let us look to innovative solutions that allow higher quality VA care, reduce backlogs, and save immense resources all at the same time.
Our wounded warriors. . . deserve the best medical care the country can provide. We must make military and veterans’ medicine the gold standard for mental health, traumatic brain injury, multiple traumas, loss of limbs, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). . .
. . .the VA faces a critical shortage of primary care and mental health physicians. . . which often amounts to prescribing drugs because there are not enough psychologists and psychiatrists to do anything else. Inadequate treatment of PTSD drives other problems like suicide, homelessness, and unemployment. . .
. . .we seek to honor their sacrifice and comfort their families by ensuring all veterans’ cemeteries are adequately equipped and a standard of care established, using Arlington Cemetery as a guide, that is befitting their service.
The level of financial distress and homelessness among vets is a shame to the nation. . . We urge the private sector to make hiring vets a company policy and commend the organizations that have proven programs to accomplish this. We will retain the preference given to veterans when they seek federal employment. We urge closer coordination with the state offices for veterans’ affairs. . . We will halt the. . . automatic denial of gun ownership to returning members of our Armed Forces who have had representatives appointed to manage their financial affairs. We urge state education officials to promote the hiring of qualified veterans as teachers. . .
Over-prescription of opioids has become a nationwide problem. . . We therefore support the need to explore new and broader ranges of options, including faith-based programs. . .

This section was shortened from 892 to 450 words. For full text, see page 44 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.