Some people think the 2016 Republican and Democratic candidates for president are equally terrible. I think one candidate trumps all the others in being frighteningly despicable, but in addition to candidate personalities, are there differences between the conservative and progressive parties?
We know from linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff that conservatives and progressives have very different values, principles and ways of thinking.
Conservatives view the world as an evil, dangerous place, are motivated primarily by fear and a strong need for security and certainty, and prefer strict, authoritarian leaders, obedience to law and order, and punishment of anyone who deviates from the established norm. They value individual rights over community, fixed rules of morality from an external authority, competition as the best path to success, and freedom to do what you want unencumbered by obligations to your fellow citizens. Success and failure are always earned and deserved.
Progressives view the world as what we make it and prefer nurturing leaders who are empathic and understand the complex causation of systemic problems. Progressives think cooperation is the highest ideal, restitution and reconciliation are preferable to punishment as forms of justice, prosperity has little connection with individual worth, success may be earned or unearned, morals and values develop and evolve from intelligent application of principles that maximize benefit and serve all human beings, and freedom includes protection from economic consequences of bad luck and circumstances.
These differences can be seen in the platforms of the two parties. You can read the full Republican platform and the Democratic platform on line, but here are some of the major differences.
Belief in American exceptionalism; the Constitution is not a flexible document, but an enduring covenant; limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people must be preserved; political freedom and economic freedom are indivisible; the people, not the government, are the best stewards of our country’s natural resources; peace requires strength; government cannot create prosperity, though government can limit or destroy it; and that prosperity is the product of self-discipline, enterprise, saving and investment by individuals.
Out of many, we are one. Cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. We are stronger when we have an economy that works for everyone and prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit-seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. 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.
Lower tax rates that penalize thrift or discourage investment. Eliminate special interest provisions and loopholes. Curb corporate welfare. Oppose retroactive taxation. Do not tax religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies, and donations to them should remain deductible. Any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax. Lower the corporate tax rate to be on a par with, or below, the rates of other industrial nations. Switch to a territorial system of taxation so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home. Reduce barriers so American companies will be headquartered at home.
Revise the tax code to ensure that large corporations pay a fair tax, and eliminate tax loopholes and overseas tax havens. Promote trade that is fair and benefits American workers. Ensure that new spending and tax cuts are offset so that they do not add to the nation’s debt over time. Tackle waste, fraud, and abuse to make sure government dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. Enact evidence-based public policies.
Banking & Financial Industry
Base banking rates on market conditions. Remove Dodd-Frank regulations and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. No financial institution is too big to fail, but any problem can be resolved through the Bankruptcy Code. Properly capitalize FDIC banks to protect taxpayers against bailouts. Scale back the federal role in the housing market, promote responsibility on the part of borrowers and lenders, and avoid future taxpayer bailouts. Review federal regulations, especially those dealing with the environment, that make it harder and more costly for Americans to rent, buy, or sell homes.
No bank can be too big to fail and no executive too powerful to jail. Support stronger criminal laws and civil penalties for Wall Street criminals who prey on the public trust. Extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting major financial fraud, and provide the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more resources to prosecute wrongdoing.
Oppose tax increases for Social Security and support free market solutions.
Protect and expand Social Security and oppose privatizing it. Raise the Social Security tax cap.
Reform Medicare – no change for persons 55 & older, give options for traditional Medicare or a premium-support model, and raise the eligibility age. Reform Medicaid by providing state block grants and allow states to exclude abortion providers. Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Promote price transparency, empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools to expand coverage to the uninsured, protect individuals with preexisting conditions who maintain continuous coverage, and use electronic medical records while affirming patient privacy and ownership of personal health information. Support portability of insurance coverage that can go from job to job. Allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines and repeal the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act which protects insurance companies from anti-trust litigation. Make home care a priority in public policy and implement programs to protect against elder abuse. Oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, including newborns, the elderly, and infirm, and oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. Ban the use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide. Replace “family planning” programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Oppose school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception and mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs. Support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty. Support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children, the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children and require parental consent for their daughter to be transported across state lines for abortion. Prohibit withholding services because a patient’s life is deemed not worth living. Implement a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage. Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Expand stem cell research from adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells without the destruction of embryonic human life. Ban human cloning for research or reproduction and the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research. Withdraw FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation.
Secure universal health care, including ACA, a public option, and expanded Medicare. Support state experimentation in providing health coverage. Repeal the excise tax on high-cost health care. Make premiums more affordable, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, cap prescription drug costs, and oppose excessive premium increases. Oppose any attempt to privatize, voucherize, or “phase out” Medicare or to slash funding and block grant Medicaid and SNAP. Renew and expand Community Health Centers, mental health centers and family planning centers. Make addiction and mental health treatment equal with physical health. Support access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. Ensure long-term care, services and supports. Protect and support public health. Support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe, including expanding the availability of affordable family planning information, contraceptive supplies and safe abortions. Repeal the harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment. Fight efforts by any nation to infringe on LGBT rights or ignore abuse. Enact national paid family and medical leave that would provide all workers at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or address a personal or family member’s serious health issue.
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.” Require courts to interpret unclear statutes in favor of a defendant. Limit federal law enforcement to protecting federal property and combating interstate crime. Divert 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, and emphasize restorative justice. Maintain capital punishment and mandatory prison time for all assaults involving serious injury to law enforcement officers.
Reform our Criminal Justice System and end mass incarceration. Reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. Train police officers on issues such as de-escalation, create national guidelines for the appropriate use of force, encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, stop the use of weapons of war, and end racial profiling. Prioritize prevention and treatment of addiction over incarceration. Remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1″ federal controlled substances. Abolish the death penalty. Build on effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration.
Repeal federal restrictions on political parties in McCain-Feingold, raise or repeal contribution limits, protect the political speech of advocacy groups, corporations, and labor unions, protect political speech on the internet, end the so-called Fairness Doctrine, and support free-market approaches to free speech unregulated by government.
Protect Americans’ right to vote, stop corporations’ outsized influence in elections, rectify the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, ensure that election officials comply with voting protections, including provisions mandating bilingual materials and voter assistance, implement universal automatic voter registration and same day voter registration, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, make Election Day a national holiday, reform our broken campaign finance system, and support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo.
Support the Second Amendment and firearm reciprocity in all 50 states. Oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners, registration of ammunition, and restoration of the Clinton gun ban. Support 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.
End violence against women and prevent gun violence. Expand and strengthen background checks, close gun law loopholes, repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), keep weapons of war off our streets, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues.
Rebuild the U.S. military into the strongest on earth, with vast superiority over any other nation or group of nations in the world. Maintain and, if warranted, increase sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. Abandon arms control treaties that benefit our adversaries without improving our national security. Fund, develop, and deploy a multi-layered missile defense system. Modernize nuclear weapons and their delivery platforms, end the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, and rebuild relationships with our allies, who understand that as long as the U.S. nuclear arsenal is their shield, they do not need to engage in nuclear proliferation. Lift the budget cap for defense. Assure military families of the pay, healthcare, housing, education, and overall support they have earned. Oppose the reinstatement of the draft, except in dire circumstances like world war, whether directly or through compulsory national service. Support for both the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions. Oppose legislative attempts to modify the system of military justice that would undermine its fairness and due process rights for all concerned, both the accuser and the accused.
Be a principled force for peace and prosperity in the world, including rights and opportunities for women and girls, access to education and employment for young people, and safeguarding the rights of minorities. Our military must be the strongest in the world and 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, never the first choice. Prioritize military readiness by making sure our Active, Reserve, and National Guard components remain the best trained and equipped in the world, seek a more agile and flexible force and rid the military of outdated Cold War-era systems. Prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and eventually rid the planet of these catastrophic weapons. Strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), push for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and work to reduce excessive spending on nuclear weapons-related programs.
Pentagon and Defense
Audit the Pentagon and Department of Defense. Prohibit compelling federal employees from paying union dues or being recruited on public time. Reduce public relations budgets of all federal departments. Support discipline and dismissal of ineffective employees.
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.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Halt U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Encourage development of renewable energy by private capital. Expedite permitting of mining on public land. Oppose any carbon tax. Expand international trade and open new markets for American energy. Conservation is best achieved through private ownership. Air and water are healthier than ever, and environmental regulation should be done by the states. Forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide. Support nuclear energy, hydroelectric dams and the Keystone Pipeline. Stop requiring the Department of Defense to use renewable energy sources. Support developing all forms of energy without subsidies. Prohibit protection of species that exist elsewhere in healthy numbers. List only endangered species when based on sound science and with consideration of cost of compliance and the rights of property owners. Oppose the listing of the lesser prairie chicken and the potential listing of the sage grouse.
Combat climate change, build a clean energy economy, and secure environmental justice. Slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Get 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernize our electric grid; and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world. Price carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases to reflect their negative externalities.
The federal government should have no role in education. Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, have primary responsibility for the education of their children and have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing. Support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations. Oppose national standards and assessments and implement alternatives to Common Core. Protect teachers against frivolous lawsuits and allow reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom. Encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high schools. Urge school districts to make use of teaching talent in the business community, STEM fields, and the military. Replace rigid tenure systems with a merit-based approach. Require background checks of all personnel who interact with school children and hold all personnel to the highest standards of personal conduct. Support choice in education; building on the basics; STEM subjects and phonics; career and technical education; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Encourage instruction in American history and civics by using the original documents of our founding fathers. Support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. Support education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits. The bulk of federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for children with special needs should follow the child to whatever school the family thinks will work best for them. Support English first. The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans. Restore private sector participation is student financing.
Make debt-free college a reality. Crack down on predatory for-profit schools. Invest in early childhood programs like Early Head Start and provide every family in America with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality preschool programs.
Freedom of Speech
Colleges, universities, and trade schools must not infringe on freedom of speech and association in the name of political correctness. Condemn the campus-based BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign against Israel. Accreditation should be decoupled from federal financing, and states should be empowered to allow a wide array of accrediting and credentialing bodies to operate.
Protect religious minorities and the fundamental right of freedom of religion. Support strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and equality for women and minorities. Condemn the practice of unlawful detentions or imprisonment, especially of journalists and civil rights activists. Ban torture. Close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay and end indefinite detention without trial or conviction.
Man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights; if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail; and there is a moral law recognized as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Reaffirm limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Oppose discrimination based on race, sex, religion, creed, disability, or national origin. Respect the right of each American to follow his or her deeply held beliefs. Value the right of America’s religious leaders to preach, and Americans to speak freely, according to their faith. Define marriage as “the union between one man and one woman,” oppose adoption by same-sex couples, support protection of businesses that deny services to same-sex couples, call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling establishing marriage equality, call for appointing judges who “respect traditional family values,” promote state laws to limit which restrooms transgender people can use, approve the rights of parents to use “conversion therapy” and enlist a therapist to try to change a child’s sexual orientation, promote the use of the bible in our public school curriculum as elective courses, support the public display of the Ten Commandments, and assert the First Amendment right of freedom of association for religious, private, service, and youth organizations to set their own membership standards. Increase the size of the Chaplain Corps and support the rights of conscience of military chaplains of all faiths to practice their faith free from political interference.
Support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate. Oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Recognized that LGBT people have the right to marry the person they love. Fight for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT Americans to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding.
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. Reverse activist court decisions — including Roe, Obergefell, and Obamacare cases. Impeach judges who unconstitutionally usurp Article I powers.
Rectify the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.
Oppose replacing the Electoral College with any form of popular vote and require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting. Urge that electronic voting systems have a voter-verified paper audit trail. Urge every state to join the Interstate Voter Registration Cross Check Program to keep voter rolls accurate and to prevent people from voting in more than one state in the same election. Ensure that citizenship, rather than mere residency, be made the basis for the apportionment of representatives among the states.
Restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act, and return control of our elections to the American people. Support vote-by-mail to increase voter participation and to help address the scourge of voter suppression. Support voter rights for formerly incarcerated individuals. Stop efforts to disenfranchise people of color, low-income people, and young people, and prevent these voters from exercising their right to vote through onerous restrictions. Ensure that election officials comply with voting protections, including provisions mandating bilingual materials and voter assistance. Make it easier to vote, not harder. Expand early voting and vote-by-mail, implement universal automatic voter registration and same day voter registration, ending partisan and racial gerrymandering, and making Election Day a national holiday. Fight against discriminatory voter identification laws, which disproportionately burden young voters, diverse communities, people of color, low income families, people with disabilities, the elderly, and women. End long lines at voting booths and ensure that all registration materials, voting materials, polling places, and voting machines are truly accessible to seniors, Americans with disabilities, and citizens with limited English proficiency. Upgrade old voting equipment and machines with modern systems, including voter-verified paper ballots, to ensure that all voters are able to exercise this sacred right in the quickest, most convenient, secure and accurate manner possible.
Oppose EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Foster, develop and encourage ranching on public land. Support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production. Allow hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on public lands. Transfer all appropriate federal land to state control. Require Congressional and state approval to establish national monuments and parks.
Keep America’s public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, protect native species and wildlife, and harness the immense economic and social potential of our public lands and waters. Oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast, and reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands.
Empower the Secretary to hold all VA employees accountable and seek fundamental change in the VA’s senior leadership structure by placing presidential appointees, rather than careerists, in additional positions of significant responsibility. Allow veterans to choose to access care in the community and not just in VA facilities.
For our veterans, push for more educational benefits and job training, end chronic homelessness and suicide, and protect and preserve the post-9/11 GI Bill for future veterans. Ensure timely access to high-quality health care and timely processing of claims and appeals. Support military families with jobs, education, childcare, and health care, especially spouses and children after the death or life-altering injury or disability of a loved one. Prevent sexual assault and rape, aggressively investigate and prosecute allegations, and make sure victims receive timely, appropriate and comprehensive treatment for physical, emotional, and psychological trauma resulting from sexual assault.
Mobilize political, economic, and military assets to support the creation of a safe haven in northern Iraq. Act with international consultation, not permission. Not be bound by the Iran deal because it was not ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. Stand up for our friends, challenge our foes, and destroy ISIS, isolate Hezbollah, and restore Lebanon’s independence.
Defeat ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliates; prevent other groups from emerging in their place; and press those in the region, especially the Gulf countries and local forces on the ground, to carry their weight in prosecuting this fight. Reject engaging in war crimes, like torturing prisoners or murdering civilian family members of suspected terrorists. Work with the NATO-led coalition of partners to bolster the democratically-elected government in Afghanistan. Vigorously enforce and implement the nuclear agreement with Iran. Press China to restrain North Korea and sharpen the choices for Pyongyang to compel it to abandon its illegal nuclear and missile programs. Support strong alliances, deter Russian aggression, build European resilience, and protect our NATO allies.