This election has broken my brain. I feel like I am definitely dumber than I was a year ago.
The election’s endless toxicity—and my dark, insatiable participation in it—has deadened my ability to retain information and differentiate between what is useful and what is simply “word dump” that I use for emotional cutting in the middle of the night. Facts are now a jumble of subjective realities and spokesperson walkbacks that create a sort of low grade ringing in my ears that makes me rub my temples like I’m a stock photography model for “headache.” I saw a movie about dying from cancer rather than watch one of the debates because it seemed less stressful. I can’t remember who said what or when or why. My bandwidth is all used up. It’s like when you talk shit about your roommate after years of contention, but you can’t remember the specifics anymore and all you can really say is, “Well….she knows what she did.”
Fortunately, there is a document that tells me more than enough of what I need to know. On July 11, the Republican Party released its official platform, a 60-page statement of its beliefs and policy proposals, vetted and approved at the party’s convention in Cleveland. So much has transpired since its publishing (including my brain turning to monkey meat) that it seems appropriate in these final days to return to its very clear ideas:
Make Christianity the national religion: “We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities.”
Build a border wall to keep immigrants out: “Our highest priority, therefore, must be to secure our borders and all ports of entry and to enforce our immigration laws. That is why we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry. The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”
Pass an pro-life constitutional amendment: “We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”
Require bible study in public schools: “A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high schools.”
Repeal Obamacare: “Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare.”
Loosen gun controls nationwide: “We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in all 50 states. We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle.” *Please note this was issued less than one month after 49 people died at the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices: “Only a Republican president will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.”
Support traditional marriage but no other families: “Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation.”
Restore the death penalty: “The constitutionality of the death penalty is firmly settled by its explicit mention in the Fifth Amendment. With the murder rate soaring in our great cities, we condemn the Supreme Court’s erosion of the right of the people to enact capital punishment in their states.”
Replace sex education with abstinence-only approaches: “We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior.
Legalize anti-LGBT discrimination: “We endorse the First Amendment Defense Act, Republican legislation in the House and Senate which will bar government discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Allow states to shut down abortion Clinics: “We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.”
Make English the official U.S. language: “We both encourage the preservation of heritage tongues and support English as the nation’s official language, a unifying force essential for the advancement of immigrant communities and our nation as a whole.”
This is only some of a proudly archaic platform that also includes barring military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source, and declares pornography as a “public health crisis.” These are not veiled values. Nothing here is up for reinterpretation. This is word-for-word what they drafted, debated and released. This is how they would carve the future. This is their radically regressive heart.
This vision is too close to coming to pass. If you consider yourself remotely progressive or liberal, you should be offended by both the content of this agenda and the crassness of the party promoting it as it continues to panders for power. Not only should you reject it, you should be outraged with a fire that no amount of media densensitization can dampen. “Abstinence-only sex education”? “Bible study is mandatory”? It flies in the face of everything I’ve ever learned in even the most elementary textbooks about America and the notion of liberty and justice for all.
We must do everything we can to combat these values from becoming the status quo. And while you may be disgruntled by our two-party electoral system, any attempt to dismantle it will require years of organization, perseverance, and activism, not a last minute Hail Mary for a third-party candidate who has lost almost every election they have ever participated in.
To stomp your feet because you feel personally unmoved by or suspicious of the Democratic candidate, you are definitively pledging allegiance to this extremist and retrograde “future” for America. You are no friend to any of the people it persecutes. There is no confusion or grey area in this. To abstain from voting, or to vote for any other candidate besides the Democratic candidate, you endorse the Republican Party’s vision for America. And fortunately for my poor squished-up mind, I can refer to its principles and values which the G.O.P. has so kindly laid out.