RNP Platform: Ban Marijuana, Embryonic Stem Cells, Morning After Pill
September 2, 2012 3:48 PM
Party panders to special interests to raise the deficit to take away Americans' personal medical freedoms
(This article deals with politics and the internet -- those who do not wish to read about these topics are forewarned)
The Republican National Party (RNP) published its platform -- entitled "
We Believe in America
" -- on Aug. 29, 2012, presenting the party's federal vision for America. The platform claimed three primary authors --
Senator John Hoeven
Governor Bob McDonnell
Congressman Marsha Blackburn
In our first piece we analyzed the internet policy and free speech side of the platform. In this article we offer up nuggets from the scientific side of the platform.
I. Digging Into the RNP "We Believe..." Platform
Reading the document I think the public may find many appealing aspects in the platform, starting with the subtitle "Reforming Government to Serve People" -- surely a worthwhile goal given today's state of hyper-deficits and inconsistent taxation.
But the troubling aspect of the platform from the perspective of a technology and science observer is the high degree of inconsistency and obfuscation amongst the various platform planks (though to be fair I fear we shall find similar problems in the Democratic National Party's (DNP) platform).
Let's dig into what exactly the platform says -- after weeks of
rumors and speculation
-- but first let's be perfectly clear what the platform is.
It is somewhat of a myth to say that America does not have or has never had viable third parties -- President Andrew Johnson, the man who succeeded President Abraham Lincoln -- was effectively a third-party president after publicly renouncing the Democratic Party while in office, while also refusing to join the Republican ranks.
But in all practicality, the nucleus of political power in America today is largely binary. And today it takes millions of dollars to get elected to office. 2008 marked the first race in which the average "price" of a seat in the House of Representatives
passed the $1M USD mark
. The candidate with more money won 9 out of 10 federal races. Much of that funding comes from the national party, which in turn receives a mixture of money from small donors and hefty special interests.
Against that backdrop, consider that the RNP's and DNP's platforms are non-binding, yet they do carry substantial weight and pressure. Candidates who buck the carefully laid out talking points in the platform risk losing funding, and by proxy losing a job opportunity. Of course there may be some element of pandering to the platform -- so it's not impossible to fathom that either party might adopt a plank (passage) that they have no real intention of enforcing.
II. Science v. Religion: The War on Drugs, Research, and Medical Freedoms
The RNP platform offers an incredible degree of cognitive dissonance. Most of it deals with the Republican party proposing large, intrusive federal expensive expenditures to regulate personal choices on medical interest at the behest of special interests or religion basis, not a scientific basis.
-- restricting scientific research or medical freedoms for religious (and not scientific) reasons, or at the behest of special interests. For example the RNP states (pg. 34):
We call for expanded support for the stem-cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions– with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells–without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning and on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos. We support restoring the Drug Enforcement Administration ban on the use of controlled substances for physician assisted suicide. We oppose the FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception.
So the party's plank basically states: ban
that could be used to treat disease victims, ban the morning after pill, and ban assisted suicide.
The RNP wants to ban embryonic stem cells that could treat paralysis victims. [Image Source: Metrolic]
Likewise (pg. 38) the RNP states:
The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the overcriminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created “tens of thousands” of criminal offenses. No one other than an elected representative should have the authority to define a criminal act and set criminal penalties. In the same way, Congress should reconsider the extent to which it has federalized offenses traditionally handled on the State or local level.
Yet on (pg. 37-38) they comment:
To that end, we support mandatory prison sentences for... repeat drug dealers...
... a comment that alludes to the party's ongoing support of marijuna prohibition. The marijuana issue is notable, as nearly half of criminals in U.S. prison have lost their liberty due to non-violent drug offenses, with a half of those prisoners (a quarter of all prisoners) being imprisoned for marijuana offenses.
To put this in context, the U.S. has lost almost $2T in tax revenue on marijuana alone in the four decade "War on Drugs", launched by Republican President Richard Nixon, while
spending $1T USD in taxpayer money
for bloated federal enforcement. Meanwhile, all three of America's last presidents -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama acknowledge consuming marijuana as youths (though Bill, famously, "did not inhale"). And the world's most prominent medical experts are in general agreement in the peer-reviewed literature -- marijuana
is no more harmful to health and society than alcohol
(legal) or tobacco (legal) -- in fact, in may be substantially less harmful.
To recap the Republican party wants to spend billions in taxpayer to jail, imprison, and otherwise financially ruin the lives of those who use the morning after pill, use a low-harm drug (marijuana), or who do research using embryonic stem cells. It wants to expand federal government to act as moral police dog for the nation. And it wants to ban a person's own right to end their life, even in cases where of chronic pain and suffering.
Yet the party claims it is about personal liberties and reducing the federal budget/deficit.
Some parts of the moral stands (e.g. the reproductive rights parts) may be mere pandering and may not see serious legislative action (although they may). But the RNP is following narrowly the DNP's line of spending billions in the "War on Drugs", which is largely the "War on Marijuana". It is extremely hard to see that war as anything other than an effort to funnel money to the alcohol and tobacco industry.
Both Obama and Romney have accepted around $200,000 from the alcohol industry to keep marijuan illegal. Both candidates plan to rack up billions in deficit debt to pander to the special interest bosses. [Image Source: AFP]
Tobacco Lobbyists have spent almost $2.5M USD this election cycle, with over 2/3rds of that money going to Republicans [
]. The alcohol industry has spent close to $5M USD [source]. Republicans have a slight edge, but overall the alcohol industry is much more equal in funding both parties, with both presidential candidates accepting close to $200,000 in special interest money. Perhaps that's why both candidates want to continue the war on drugs, wasting taxpayer money to manipulate the "free market" -- after all, they've been paid to have that opinion.
Clearly there's a huge contradiction between the various planks in the RNP platform.
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