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Gil Mertz: This election: A tale of two party platforms

Posted: September 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Most voters pay little attention to party platforms, but this year both political parties experienced their share of controversy.

Republicans came under fire for the language they adopted on the issue of abortion, which normally wouldn’t be newsworthy. They’ve had similar planks in their platform for years.

What made this year different began with a narrative that the Republican Party had a “War on Women.” This is a common theme used by Democrats during an election cycle but it was fueled this time around by two significant events.

First came Rush Limbaugh’s bashing of Sandra Fluke as a slut for her testimony before members of Congress regarding contraceptives. This gave national prominence to the story as Democrats tried to align the Republican Party with Limbaugh’s demeaning remarks.

The second was an inexcusable comment from Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., regarding “legitimate” rape.

This provided Democrats with an opening to bring the Republican platform into question by saying the GOP’s stand on abortion did not provide wording for exceptions of rape or incest, which is true.

This sounded pretty harsh, so I went online to check out the language for myself. Here is the exact wording of the Republican Party platform on the issue of abortion: “Faithful to the self-evident truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

As you read it again, I will leave it up to each reader to determine if this is anti-women and if there needed to be wording added to provide an exception for rape or incest. Romney himself says he supports these exceptions, but we’ll see.

The Democrats were not immune to platform controversy this election cycle, either. The platform was approved without a single mention of the word “God” or recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Regardless of how you feel about a divine entity or the separation of church and state, it just makes good political sense to add the word God somewhere. Whether they mean it or not, there’s a good reason why nearly all politicians end their speeches with “God bless America!”

A simple solution to this criticism was an amendment to add both items back into the platform, but the vote required a two-thirds majority.

Democratic National Convention Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa presided over the amendment vote, which has been posted has been posted on and several other websites.

It appears he was expecting a quick vote and that the delegates would vote to put God’s name back in the DNC platform and also acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

As you can see by the video, Villaraigosa is ready to pass the amendment when he realizes he doesn’t have the two-thirds needed to pass it based on the crowd noise of “Aye” or “Nay.”

He then repeats the motion a second time, perhaps thinking the delegates may not have understood. They understood and made it even clearer he didn’t have the two-thirds majority he needed.

It becomes painfully obvious when you watch the video that Villaraigosa knows he’s in trouble. It would be catastrophic for the Democrats if they actually voted down an amendment to add God’s name or to support Israel in their platform.

However, he also knows he simply doesn’t have the votes. I give him credit as it appears he wants to do the right thing, at least initially.

After several awkward seconds, a third vote is taken. The “no” vote is loud and unmistakable, but he passes the amendment anyway. It’s painful to watch, but you should see it for yourself and make your own judgment.

Those Republicans who defended the abortion language (or lack thereof) in their platform by dismissing it as meaningless are wrong to now criticize the Democrats for their faux pas.

Those Democrats who insisted that the platform process is how we should judge a party are wrong to now dismiss the “no” vote from their delegates about adding the name God to their platform.

There’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around. God help us all.

Gil Mertz is an Agua Dulce resident.


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