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 an overarching category addressing Tribal/Territories: Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities (p. 13).


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.

Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations (p. 19)

We have a profound moral and legal responsibility to the Indian tribes. . .
. . .will work to enact laws and policies that strengthen, not reduce, the powers of Indian nations over people who interact with them in Indian Country. We will. . . continue to empower Indian nations, and to provide sufficient and meaningful resources to Indian tribes to bolster economic development and self-determination. . . ensure that American Indian communities are safe, healthy, educated, innovative, and prosperous.
We will restore tribal lands. . . address chronic underfunding, and provide meaningful resources and financial investments that will empower American Indian tribes. . .
strengthen the operation of tribal housing programs, and reauthorize the Indian Housing Block Grant Program. We will increase affordable and safe housing and fight to significantly reduce homelessness. . .
. . .We will fully fund the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), strengthen self-determination to enable culturally-tailored learning. . . help to recruit and retain qualified teachers for Native learners. . . support the elimination of school and sports mascots that reflect derogatory stereotypes and that perpetuate racism.
We will strengthen tribal sovereignty and tribal jurisdiction . . . build on the important provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. . . address criminal justice gaps that undermine the safety of tribal communities. . . investments in effective tribal law enforcement and tribal courts.
. . .support a robust expansion of the health care provided by the Indian Health Service. We will work to fully fund the Indian Health Service, Tribal, and Urban Indian health care system and to ensure that all American Indians have adequate, safe, and affordable access to primary care providers. . .
We acknowledge the past injustices. . . that resulted in the destruction of the Indian nations’ economies, social, and religious systems, the taking of their lands, and the creation of intergenerational trauma. . .
We will manage for tribal sacred places, and empower tribes to maintain and pass on traditional religious beliefs, languages, and social practices without fear of discrimination or suppression.
. . .the Indian Child Welfare Act is critical to the survival of Indian culture, government, and communities and must be enforced. . .
We will strengthen Indian voting rights. . reduce the disproportionate incarceration of American Indian and Alaska Native men and women, reduce disparities in prison sentencing, protect the religious rights of Native prisoners, reduce barriers to prisoner reentry, and offer access to housing and employment upon reentry.
We are committed to principles of environmental justice in Indian Country. . . We call for a climate change policy that protects tribal resources, protects tribal health, and provides accountability through accessible, culturally appropriate participation and strong enforcement. . .
We will engage in meaningful and productive consultation with Tribal Leaders. . . will work to appoint American Indian/Alaska Natives to key positions. . .will strengthen the White House Council on Native American Affairs. . .
Democrats also support efforts for self-governance and self-determination of Native Hawaiians. . . We support proactive actions by the federal government to enhance Native Hawaiian culture, health, language, and education. . .

This section was shortened from 1,004 to 524 words. For full text, see page 19 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico (p. 21)

And we are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Many stem from the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s political status. Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States. Democrats are committed to promoting economic opportunity and good-paying jobs for the hardworking people of Puerto Rico. We also believe that Puerto Ricans must be treated equally by Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that benefit families. Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. All American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. Finally, we believe that federal officials must respect Puerto Rico’s local self-government as laws are implemented and Puerto Rico’s budget and debt are restructured so that it can get on a path towards stability and prosperity.

Honoring the People of the Territories (p. 21)

We also recognize and honor the contributions and the sacrifices made in service of our country by the Americans living in the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We support self-government and self-determination for the people of the territories, and their right to decide their future status. All Americans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. And all American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. We will work as partners to the people of Guam on military matters, believe veterans from Guam and the Virgin Islands should have access to timely and quality Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care, and take seriously the unique health care challenges that Pacific Island communities face. And we support reviewing the feasibility of extending the ACA to all the territories and increasing the Medicaid cap. For all those who live under our flag, we support strong economic development and will work towards fair and equitable treatment under federal programs.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has an overarching category addressing Tribal/Territories: Government Reform (p. 23).

Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians (p. 28)

. . . Ineffective federal programs deprive American Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.
American Indians have established elected tribal governments. . . We respect the tribal governments as the voice of their communities and encourage federal, state, and local governments to heed those voices in developing programs and part¬nerships to improve the quality of life for American Indians and their neighbors in their communities.
. . .economic self-suf¬ficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges confronting Indian country. We believe that tribal governments and their communities. . . are best situated to craft solu¬tions that will end systemic problems that create poverty and disenfranchisement. . . the fed¬eral government should not . . stifle the development of resources within the reservations, which need federal assistance to advance their commerce na¬tionally through roads and technology. Federal and state regulations that thwart job creation must be withdrawn or redrawn so that tribal governments. . . are not disad¬vantaged. . . Native communities should have the same authority as state govern¬ments in labor matters, so that union bosses and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cannot undermine the authority of tribal governments.
Republicans recognize that each tribe has the right of consultation before any new regulatory policy is implemented on tribal land. . . Before promulgating and imposing any new laws or regulations affecting trust land or members, the federal government should encourage Indian tribes to develop their own policies. . . and should defer to tribes to develop their own standards, or standards in conjunction with state governments.
. . . will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. Better partnerships will help us to expand economic opportunity, deliver top-flight education. . . modernize and improve the Indian Health Service. . . build essential infrastructure. . . Our approach is to empower American Indians, through tribal self-determination and self-governance policies, to develop their greatest assets, human resources and the rich natural resources on their lands, without undue federal interference.
. . .To protect everyone. . . the legal system in tribal communities must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone’s due process and civil rights must be safeguarded.
We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs. . . to preserve their culture and languages. . . we recognize that American Indians have responded to the call for military service in percentage numbers far greater than have other groups of Americans. . .

This section was shortened from 651 to 415 words. For full text, see page 28 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Americans in the Territories (p. 29)

. . .the patriotism exhibited by our brothers and sisters in the territories. . . has often gone unacknowledged. . . We honor the extraordinary sacrifices of the men and women of the territories who protect our freedom. . . the territories and commonwealths. . . are of vital importance to our national security as the outermost line of defense and gateway to America against potential encroachment by foreign powers. We welcome their greater participation in all aspects of the political process and affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.
. . .They need venture capital to retain existing industries and develop new ones. A stronger private sector can reduce dependence on public employ¬ment. . . devel¬opment of local energy options. . . to reduce dependence on costly imported fuel.
The territories’ economic stability and potential for growth must be considered. . . All unreasonable impediments to their prosperity should be removed, including un¬reasonable U.S. customs practices. . .
We call for the appointment of a common¬wealth and territories advisory committee consisting of representatives from all five U.S. territories. . . We further call for the appointment of a Special Assistant to the President responsible for day-to-day interaction with the territories and commonwealths. . .

This section was shortened from 386 to 217 words. For full text, see page 29 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The Territory of Puerto Rico (p. 30)

We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54 percent majority voted to end Puerto Rico’s current status as a U.S. territory, and 61 percent chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. Once the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico’s future admission as the 51st state of the Union.