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.

Unique Focus

Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Platform has two overarching categories addressing their Unique Focus: Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities (p. 13) and Principled Leadership (p. 35).
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.
Ending Systemic Racism (p. 13)
Democrats will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society. We will challenge and dismantle the structures that define lasting racial, economic, political, and social inequity. Democrats will promote racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing of all public-serving institutions and in the formation of public policy. Democrats support removing the Confederate battle flag from public properties, recognizing that it is a symbol of our nation’s racist past that has no place in our present or our future. We will push for a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and that there is no place for racism in our country.
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap (p. 13)
. . .It is unacceptable that the median wealth for African Americans and Latino Americans is roughly one-tenth that of white Americans. These disparities are also stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups, and may become even more significant when considering other characteristics such as age, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The racial wealth and income gaps are the result of policies that discriminate against people of color and constrain their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans. . .
. . .Disparities in wealth cannot be solved by the free market alone, but instead, the federal government must play a role in eliminating systemic barriers to wealth accumulation for different racial groups and improving opportunities for people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to build wealth. Federal policies must remove barriers to achieving sustainable homeownership, provide for greater diversity in federal and state contracting practices, incentivize and expand access to retirement investment programs, increase opportunities for quality jobs and education, and challenge the deeply rooted structures that perpetuate and exacerbate current disparities and ultimately stagnate the nation’s economic growth and security.

This section was shortened from 290 to 193 words. For full text, see page 13 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Guaranteeing Civil Rights (p. 16)
Democrats will always fight to end discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. We need to promote civility and speak out against bigotry and other forms of intolerance that have entered our political discourse. It is unacceptable to target, defame, or exclude anyone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. While freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional principle, we must condemn hate speech that creates a fertile climate for violence. We condemn Donald Trump’s demonization of prisoners of war, women, Muslims, Mexicans, and people with disabilities; his playing coy with white supremacists; and the climate of bigotry he is creating. We also condemn the recent uptick in other forms of hate speech, like anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Guaranteeing Women’s Rights (p. 17)
We are committed to ensuring full equality for women. Democrats will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, health care, or any other sphere. We will combat biases across economic, political, and social life that hold women back and limit their opportunities and also tackle specific challenges facing women of color. After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution by passing the Equal Rights Amendment. And we will urge U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (p. 17)
Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people, and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes. That is unacceptable and must change. Democrats will fight for the continued development of sex discrimination law to cover LGBT people. We will also fight for comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding. We will oppose all state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate. We will combat LGBT youth homelessness and improve school climates. We will support LGBT elders, ensure access to necessary health care, and protect LGBT people from violence—including ending the crisis of violence against transgender Americans. We will also promote LGBT human rights and ensure America’s foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people around the world.
Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities (p. 17)
No one should face discrimination based on disability status. Democrats are committed to realizing the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will protect and expand the right of Americans with disabilities to get the accommodations and support they need to live in integrated community settings. We will improve access to meaningful and gainful employment for people with disabilities. We will provide tax relief to help the millions of families caring for aging relatives or family members with chronic illnesses or disabilities. And we will continue to fight for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Respecting Faith and Service (p. 17)
Democrats know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.

We believe in the power of national service to solve problems and break down barriers by bringing people of all backgrounds together in common purpose. National service expands opportunity for people across America, strengthening our communities and our country. And those who serve earn education awards that they can use for college while building valuable work skills. We will support and strengthen AmeriCorps with the goal that every American who wants to participate in full-time national service will have the opportunity to do so.

Investing in Rural America (p. 18)
. . .increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, with particular attention given to promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. We will encourage programs to protect and enhance family farms. . . will expand local food markets and regional food systems and provide a focused safety net to assist. . . during challenging times. . . promote clean energy leadership and collaborative stewardship of our natural resources. . . While the EPA’s new Agricultural Worker Protection Standard goes a long way to protect farmworkers from harmful pesticides and herbicides, we recognize there is a lot more we can do. . . supports stronger agricultural worker protections including regulation of work hours, elimination of child labor, ensuring adequate housing for migrant workers, and sanitary facilities in the field.
. . .We support strengthening rural water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. . . expand access to equity capital for businesses and expand the New Markets Tax Credit to better serve rural small businesses. We will promote collaborative stewardship of our natural resources, while developing clean fuels. . . provide assistance to producers who conserve and improve natural resources on their farms and double loan guarantees that support the bio-based economy’s dynamic growth.

This section was shortened from 268 to 202 words. For full text, see page 18 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind (p. 18)
. . .We will direct more federal resources to lifting up communities that have been left out and left behind, such as the 10-20-30 model, which directs 10 percent of program funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more. We will also focus on communities that suffer from persistent poverty. . .
In the richest country in the world, no one. . . should go hungry. . . Democrats will protect proven programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). . . help people grow their skills through jobs and skills training opportunities. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program should be expanded for low-wage workers not raising children, including extending the credit to young workers starting at age 21. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) should be expanded. . .
. . .We will create good-paying jobs and enhance opportunities by investing in small business, youth employment, and reentry programs for formerly incarcerated people. . . expand and make permanent the New Markets Tax Credit. . . improve safety by repairing crumbling infrastructure. . . make investments in affordable housing near good jobs and good schools.

This section was shortened from 301 to 201 words. For full text, see page 18 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas (p. 19)
Democrats have a comprehensive agenda to invest in America’s cities, grounded on the premise that local leaders are best equipped to create a better future for their residents—but need the resources and flexibility to get the job done. We also recognize there is no easy way to build strong neighborhoods and strong cities, but rather we must address the challenge across many interconnected fronts—from housing, to schools, to jobs, to transportation, to health.

We will dramatically increase federal infrastructure funding for our cities—making significant new investments in roads and bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems, broadband, schools, and more. Democrats also will revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay by building on programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which have helped cities across the country begin to address these challenges. We will provide resources to help overcome blight, expand Community Development Block Grant funds, provide more housing support to high-poverty communities, and build more affordable rental housing units.

We will support entrepreneurship and small business growth in cities by providing mentoring and training to entrepreneurs and small business owners in underserved communities as well as expanding federal funding for the New Markets Tax Credit, community development financial institutions, and the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

Promoting Arts and Culture (p. 19)
Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education. We are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation’s rich cultural heritage. We will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we protect and promote the unique artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage.
PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP (p. 35)
Democrats believe that America must lead in the world. . . We cannot walk away from our position of global leadership and allow other countries to make decisions about our lives, jobs, and safety.
. . .when America leads, it must be as a principled force for peace and prosperity in the world. . . protecting rights and opportunities for women and girls. . . providing access to education and employment for young people and safeguarding the rights of minorities. . . the smart use of diplomacy, development, and economic statecraft can prevent crises, foster stability, and make us safer. . . Our global network of alliances is a source of tremendous strategic advantage.
. . .while our military must be the strongest in the world, it should only be sent into combat when the terms of engagement are clearly presented to the American people and our troops have what they need to fulfill their mission. . . war must always be the last resort. . .
These principles have underpinned important progress in the last eight years. . . We brought bin Laden to justice, crippled al Qaeda’s core leadership, saved America from a second Great Depression, repaired our alliances, reestablished relations with Cuba while pressing for reforms, and. . . blocked Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon. . .
. . .the next Democratic administration will confront the complex challenges that lie ahead by staying true to our principles and core values.
. . .There has never been a major party candidate less qualified or less fit for the office of President of the United States or to be Commander-in-Chief than Donald Trump. . . His dangerous, incoherent policies would undo the progress we have made.
. . .We believe America is unlike any other nation on earth. Our ingenuity is unparalleled, our military unrivaled, our economy the largest, most dynamic, and innovative, and our values an enduring source of strength and inspiration the world over. We are not a country that cowers behind walls. We lead with purpose. With American leadership, guided by our principles and in concert with our allies and partners, the coming years can be the most stable, secure, and prosperous time we and the world have ever known.

This section was shortened from 621 to 376 words. For full text, see page 35 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has an overarching category addressing their Unique Focus: A Rebirth of Constitutional Government (p. 9).
We the People (p. 9)
. . .The Declaration sets forth the fundamental precepts of American government: That God bestows certain inalienable rights on every individual, thus producing human equality; that government exists first and foremost to protect those inalienable rights; that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights; and that if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail; that there is a moral law recognized as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”; and that American government is to operate with the consent of the governed. . . .the Constitution. . . is the solemn compact built upon principles of the Declaration that enshrines our God-given individual rights and ensures that all Americans stand equal before the law, defines the purposes and limits of government, and is the blueprint for ordered liberty that makes the United States the world’s freest and most prosperous nation.
We reaffirm the Constitution’s fundamental principles: limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. We denounce bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. Therefore, we oppose discrimination. . .
Our Constitution is in crisis. More than 90 percent of federal requirements are now imposed by regulatory agencies. . . The current Administration has exceeded its constitutional authority. . .
Democrats in Congress have enabled, supported, and defended each of these breaches. . . Democrats in Congress have also endorsed an anti-constitutional agenda of their own. Forty-eight Democratic senators, for instance, voted to amend the Bill of Rights to give government officials control over political speech. Democrats in Congress have likewise proposed bills that would limit religious liberty, undermine property rights, and eviscerate the Second Amendment.
In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable rights of its citizens. These constitutional rights are not negotiable for any American. We affirm that all legislation, regulation, and official actions must conform to the Constitution’s original meaning as understood at the time the language was adopted. . .

This section was shortened from 686 to 340 words. For full text, see page 9 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The First Amendment: Religious Liberty (p. 11)
The Bill of Rights lists religious liberty, with its rights of conscience, as the first freedom to be protected. . . protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. . . Ongoing attempts to compel individuals, businesses, and institutions of faith to transgress their beliefs are part of a misguided effort to undermine religion and drive it from the public square. . . Republicans believe the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs, and therefore we urge the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
. . .We endorse the First Amendment Defense Act. . . which will bar government discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This Act would protect the non-profit tax status of faith-based adoption agencies, the accreditation of religious educational institutions, the grants and contracts of faith-based charities and small businesses, and the licensing of religious professions. . . We encourage every state to pass similar legislation. . . We support laws to confirm the longstanding American tradition that religious individuals and institutions can educate young people, receive government benefits, and participate in public debates without having to check their religious beliefs at the door.
Our First Amendment rights are. . . rights we inherently possess. The government cannot use subsequent amendments to limit First Amendment rights. The Free Exercise Clause is both an individual and a collective liberty protecting a right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. Therefore, we strongly support the freedom of Americans to act in accordance with their religious beliefs. . . in their everyday lives.
We. . . condemn public officials who have proposed boycotts against businesses that support traditional marriage. We pledge to protect those business owners who have been subjected to hate campaigns, threats of violence, and other attempts to deny their civil rights.
We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities. We assert the First Amendment right of freedom of association for religious, private, service, and youth organizations to set their own membership standards.

This section was shortened from 634 to 396 words. For full text, see page 11 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The First Amendment: Constitutionally Protected Speech (p. 12)
The rights of citizenship do not stop at the ballot box. Freedom of speech includes the right to devote resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions that would discourage citizens from participating in the public square or limit their ability to promote their ideas, such as requiring private organizations to publicly disclose their donors to the government. Limits on political speech serve only to protect the powerful and insulate incumbent officeholders. We support repeal of federal restrictions on political parties in McCain-Feingold, raising or repealing contribution limits, protecting the political speech of advocacy groups, corporations, and labor unions, and protecting political speech on the internet. We likewise call for an end to the so-called Fairness Doctrine, and support free-market approaches to free speech unregulated by government.

We believe the forced funding of political candidates through union dues and other mandatory contributions violates the First Amendment. Just as Americans have a First Amendment right to devote resources to favored candidates or views, they have a First Amendment right not to be forced to individually support individuals or ideologies that they oppose. We agree with Thomas Jefferson that “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy (p. 13)
Affirming the Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” we call for strict limitations on the use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil, with the exception of patrolling our national borders for illegal entry and activity. We oppose any attempts by government to require surveillance devices in our daily lives, including tracking devices in motor vehicles.
. . .No matter the medium, citizens must retain the right to communicate with one another free from unlawful government intrusion. It will not be easy to balance privacy rights with the government’s legitimate need to access encrypted information. This issue is too important to be left to the courts. A Republican president and a Republican Congress must listen to the American people and forge a consensus solution.
. . .Thus, FATCA not only allows “unreasonable search and seizures” but also threatens the ability of overseas Americans to lead normal lives. We call for its repeal and for a change to residency-based taxation for U.S. citizens overseas.

This section was shortened from 325 to 176 words. For full text, see page 13 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Human Life (p. 13)
. . .we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

. . .We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. . . we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms. . . We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment. . . from individuals with disabilities, newborns, the elderly, or the infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

We affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women who face an unplanned pregnancy. . . we support legislation that requires financial responsibility for the child be equally borne by both the mother and father upon conception until the child reaches adulthood. . . We celebrate the millions of Americans who open their hearts, homes, and churches to mothers in need and women fleeing abuse. We thank and encourage providers of counseling, medical services, and adoption assistance for empowering women experiencing an unintended pregnancy to choose life. We support funding for ultrasounds and adoption assistance. We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives. . . passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which imposes appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion. . . We strongly oppose infanticide. Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which. . . unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version. . . We support state and federal efforts against the cruelest forms of abortion, especially dismemberment abortion procedures, in which unborn babies are literally torn apart limb from limb.

We call on Congress to ban sex-selection abortions and abortions based on disabilities. . . We oppose embryonic stem cell research. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. We support adult stem cell research and urge the restoration of the national placental stem cell bank. . . We oppose federal funding for harvesting embryos and call for a ban on human cloning. . .

This section was shortened from 763 to 500 words. For full text, see page 13 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The Fifth Amendment: Protecting Private Property (p. 14)
. . .when private property is not secure, freedom is at risk. That is why the Fifth Amendment declares that private property may not be “taken for public use without just compensation.” The Supreme Court’s Kelo decision undermined this safeguard by allowing local governments to seize a person’s home or land. . . for “public purpose,” which thus allowed the government to seize it for transfer to private developers or other private entities. We call on any state legislatures that have not already done so to nullify the impact of Kelo within their jurisdiction. . . declaring that private property may be taken only for true public use, and we join House Republicans in supporting the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

The government at every level must always pay just compensation whenever it takes private property to achieve a compelling public use. . .

Civil asset forfeiture. . . has become a tool for unscrupulous law enforcement officials, acting without due process, to profit by destroying the livelihood of innocent individuals. . . When the rights of the innocent can be so easily violated, no one’s rights are safe. We call on Congress and state legislatures to enact reforms to protect law-abiding citizens against abusive asset forfeiture tactics.

This section was shortened from 289 to 208 words. For full text, see page 14 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

The Fifth Amendment: Intellectual Property Rights (p. 15)
Private property includes not only physical property such as lands and homes, but also intellectual property like books and patents. Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to safeguard intellectual property rights for “Authors and Inventors.” By protecting the proprietary rights of creators and innovators, the Constitution promotes the general welfare by providing incentives for investment in all sorts of technology and artistic works. Intellectual property is a driving force in today’s global economy of constant innovation. It is the wellspring of American economic growth and job creation. With the rise of the digital economy, it has become even more critical that we protect intellectual property rights and preserve freedom of contract rather than create regulatory barriers to creativity, growth, and innovation.

Protecting intellectual property is also a national security issue. We must guard against counterfeit parts that can compromise the reliability of our weapons systems and the safety of military personnel. Today, the worst offenses against intellectual property rights come from abroad, especially in China. We call for strong action by Congress and a new Republican president to enforce intellectual property laws against all infringers, whether foreign or domestic.

The Ninth Amendment: The People’s Retained Rights (p. 15)
The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution declares that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This provision codifies the principle that our national government derives its power from the governed and that all powers not delegated to the government are retained by the people. We call upon legislators to give full force to this fundamental principle. We welcome to our ranks all citizens who are determined to reclaim the rights of the people that have been ignored or usurped by the federal and intrusive state governments.
The Tenth Amendment: Federalism as the Foundation of Personal Liberty (p. 15)
Federalism is a cornerstone of our constitutional system. Every violation of state sovereignty by federal officials is. . . an assault on the liberties of individual Americans. Hence the promise of the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Constitution gives the federal government very few powers, and they are specifically enumerated; the states and the people retain authority over all unenumerated powers. In obedience to that principle, we condemn the. . . unconstitutional expansion into areas beyond those specifically enumerated. . . We pledge to restore the proper balance and vertical separation of powers between the federal government and state governments. . . We encourage states to reinvigorate their traditional role as the laboratories of democracy. . . through local and state innovation.
Big government undermines federalism through more than 1,100 grants-in-aid programs that consume more than one-sixth of the federal budget for matters that should be the exclusive responsibility of the states. . . money originating from state taxpayers is returned to the states, usually greatly reduced, with myriad strings attached. These grants turn state and local elected officials into agents of the federal government. . . We call upon Congress to help a Republican president to reduce and ultimately eliminate this system of conditioned grants. . .

This section was shortened from 326 to 234 words. For full text, see page 15 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

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