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Published August 22 2012

Forum editorial: A shaky political platform?

Political party platforms often are divisive. One party’s platform is the other’s recipe for disaster. But when a party platform is divisive within the party – say among the party’s national leaders – it is a different kettle of fish altogether. In that regard, the National Republican Party platform, which was adopted without much fanfare on Tuesday, is raising enough of a stink to suggest there’s a bad fish in the kettle.

“Platforms” are policy positions made up of individual “planks.” The plank causing some consternation among Republicans is the party’s rigid abortion plank, which, as expected, is strongly anti-abortion – so much so that it does not even give a mention to an exception for rape. This is problematic because the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates – allegedly the leaders of the party – said they would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.

The issue is especially prickly for Republicans these days because one in their ranks – the candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri – made some astonishingly ignorant remarks about rape, pregnancy and abortion that caused party leaders all over the nation to urge him to drop out of the race. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan were among those saying Rep. Todd Akin should step aside. Akin has refused.

But the larger issue is whether the party’s anointed presidential and vice presidential candidates should be running in sync with their party’s platform, specifically the abortion plank. The party has been consistent in its anti-abortion stance, so the Romney camp had to know the 2012 version of the abortion plank would be hammered into the platform without the exception for rape that Romney favors.

Which raises questions:

Of what value is the platform if the party’s presidential candidate does not support one of its most enduring and important planks?

How does a sincere no-exceptions pro-life Republican cast a vote for the Romney-Ryan team when both men are OK with the rape exception?

When does compromising one’s values devolve into hypocrisy in the voting booth?

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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