Standing Up, Standing Firm
STANDING UP, STANDING FIRM
The California Republican Party needs you.
Earlier this summer, certain members of the Platform Committee wrote a draft of a new platform, the document they hope will set the Party’s course for the next four years.
Reading it, conservatives found, to their shock and dismay, that the writers had deleted whole sections of carefully wrought material dealing with the sanctity of human life, the importance of resisting the gay agenda, immigration policy, and Second Amendment rights.
Fearing for the future of the Party, many are taking action. My good friend (and former candidate for office) Lawrence Wiesner and I wrote a firm but respectful letter to the leaders of the Drafting Committee, and sent copies to all 220 members of the Platform Committee (who will vote on the proposed platform at the convention this September). Our hope was to get the framers to restore all or most of the deleted material.
As you will see from the letter below, our hopes were disappointed. The leaders stood their ground, arguing that the way forward in our liberal state is to soft-pedal divisive social issues and focus instead on what people (supposedly) care about: the deficit, jobs, and education.
So Lawrence and I decided to write a second letter to the entire committee, urging the members to vote “no” on the new platform unless and until the committee creates a document around which all Republicans can rally. God willing, we will prevail.
For several reasons, I am posting our letter here. I hope it will stimulate your thinking about how our Christian faith properly intersects with the world of politics. I hope it will move you to pray that the Republican Party does not lose its way in the midst of our great fight for truth, righteousness, and the future of our culture. I hope it will stir some of you to contact Republican leaders with whom you may be familiar, reminding them we are about MUCH more than money, jobs, and big business.
And I hope it will impress you once again with the tremendous importance–in all spheres of life–of standing up, and standing firm.
August 18, 2011
Fellow Members of CRP Platform Committee,
With a heavy heart, but with firm resolve, I am writing to ask you to join me in voting “no” on the proposed platform of the California Republican Party. Please allow me to explain why.
As you will remember, I recently contacted you, expressing my concern about radical changes in the platform. In my view, these changes represent slightly less than an outright repudiation of decades-old Republican tradition on such controversial but weighty issues as the sanctity of human life, the gay agenda, immigration reform, and second amendment rights. Yes, the authors have draped some one-sentence fig leaves over these urgent questions, fig leaves that embolden them to describe this is a pro-life and pro-family document. The loyal members of those constituencies know better.
I expressed my concerns in writing to the Drafting Committee and they have responded. They are unmoved, arguing that in (supposedly) liberal California conservatives should soft-pedal their views on divisive social issues and concentrate on matters of concern to all: the deficit, jobs, education, etc. By using this “stealth strategy” we (supposedly) can win elections, get into office, and advance our conservative agenda.
Doubtless those who hold this position are sincere, but I believe they are sincerely wrong. I also believe that if we allow them to gut the platform, it will only weaken and further marginalize the CRP.
Here, then, are my five best reasons for urging you to insist upon a platform that addresses all the issues of concern to all Republicans; to insist upon a platform that does not conceal our traditional banners, but lifts them high.
First, it will establish our identity. A political party is an institutional center of gravity, a rallying point for like-minded people who share common values and public policy objectives. A party’s platform is its DNA, a public declaration of its identity. It reminds us of who we are and what we stand for. It holds us together. It introduces us to newcomers. It distinguishes us from our opponents. These are great goods. A truncated party platform jeopardizes them all.
Secondly, it will hold in place our existing constituencies. Contrary to liberal caricatures and widespread public opinion, we Republicans stand for more than money, jobs, and big business. We stand for God-given values and constitutional rights that modern liberalism threatens to sweep away. Because of this, a great kaleidoscope of Republican interest groups passionately clings to the party’s bosom. A platform that neglects or downplays any of their concerns only serves to marginalize valued members of our family, and tempts them to depart.
Thirdly, it will connect with untapped constituencies. California is home to many communities that might well join our party, if only they knew that it stands for things they care about. I have in mind the Latino’s, who are largely Catholic and pro-life. I have in mind Asian-American immigrants, steeped in traditional pro-family cultures. I have in mind Afro-Americans, many of whom now express growing alarm about astronomical abortion rates among black women, and who largely oppose a gay agenda that will further undermine their fragile families. At present, these communities lean Democrat. But who’s to say what might happen if they saw a pro-life and pro-family banner flying high over our party?
Fourthly, it will call, guide, and encourage Republican candidates. The party platform is our constitution, the document upon which all our candidates should run. It is the party’s best vehicle for attracting quality public servants, educating them in Republican values and positions, and strengthening them to fight the good fight when the going gets rough. While there is always room for slight differences of opinion or emphasis, it is not fitting that Republican candidates should deviate widely from the platform. If we are a Big Tent, it should be because our fulsome platform attracts people with a wide variety of interests. It should not be because it attracts people with one (economic) interest and leaves everything else up for grabs. The Whigs went down that road, and we all know where it got them.
Finally, and most importantly, it will secure the blessing of our Creator. Do we truly believe that our core values and policy positions reflect the heart of God? If so, we should passionately, reasonably, and courageously stand up for them. If indeed they are His values, in due time they will prevail. Till then, we need only be patient and faithful, remembering that in the end it is His vote, and his alone, that truly counts.
If you share my concerns about the platform and the present direction of our Party, please consider contacting the appropriate leaders. Also, please remember that a full-convention vote on the platform is currently scheduled for late Sunday afternoon. I hope you will join me in remaining for the vote, and also in voting “no” unless and until the Drafting Committee gives us a platform that truly unites us all.