Part of the Republican Party platform to be voted on at the national convention this week is language that calls for a crackdown on the porn industry.
Before we jump the gun on anything, it’s worth noting that the party platform isn’t binding. The GOP platform has called for lots of things Republicans don’t actually endorse, so we probably shouldn’t panic too much…yet.
So, if it’s not binding, what’s the problem with having issues like this in the platform? Here are a few reasons:
1. It distracts from the real issues.
Today the news isn’t talking about a massive budget overhaul. They’re talking about how Republicans want to prevent adults from accessing pornography. We have a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. We are fighting wars we can’t afford. We are heading toward complete fiscal ruin, and Republicans want to talk about banning porn? It’s nothing more than a distraction to take our eyes off of what’s important.
2. It gives politicians an excuse to expand government.
When a Republican decides it’s time to make legislation to control the behavior of others, he’ll have an easier time getting support for it when it’s part of the platform. Legislators can use the “well, it was in the platform, so I supported it like a good little Republican” excuse and support the expansion of government without fear of blowback from the party.
3. Protecting me from myself is not a legitimate function of government.
There is no scenario in which keeping an adult from viewing pornographic material created by consenting adults is a legitimate function of government. Whether we’re talking about state or federal government, that type of law is inappropriate.
Written by David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Jennifer Rubin, seeking to dispel “myths about conservatives,” takes on the idea that “the GOP doesn’t believe in community:
President Obama likes to say that Republicans want everyone to be “on his own.” In fact, conservatives, as Romney put it in a speech at Liberty University this year, believe family, communities, churches and other civil institutions are critical building blocks in society. They favor investing authority in the level of government closest to the people (locales and states), which they believe is most responsive and governs best.
That’s a nice theory, and it’s one that keeps many libertarians voting Republican.
With concern rising over rule changes dealing with selection of state delegates to future conventions and talk of a floor fight growing, Team Romney has struck a deal with Ron Paul to avoid any embarrassment today:
Republican Party officials struck a last-minute deal Monday night in an attempt to avert a messy convention floor battle with supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Supporters of the libertarian lawmaker were spoiling for a fight over an attempted change to the GOP delegate rules aimed at limiting their ability to gain delegate slots at future conventions. But the bigger concern for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign was assuaging concerns from a number of powerful longtime party stalwarts that the new rule infringed on states’ rights to determine their own delegates.
In an email to Republican National Committee (RNC) members, James Bopp, an Indiana delegate and GOP power player, said he and other conservative power brokers had reached an agreement with Romney’s emissaries to end the dispute, which threatened to be a distraction on the first full day of convention events.
Under the agreement, a bound delegate must vote for the presidential candidate that they are required to vote for under state law or state party rules, leaving the actual selection of delegates up to the states.
Previously, a proposal would have given presidential candidates the power to veto delegates sent by the states — a change that had Paul supporters crying foul, seeing it as an establishment attempt to stifle the upstart contingent.
Julianne Thompson, one of the founders of Georgia Tea Party Patriots and a convention delegate, has written an open letter to Republican National Committee on rule changes made that would allow the party’s presidential nominee to revoke delegates. You can read the letter in its entirety below:
Chairman Reince Preibus, members of the Rules Committee, and the entire voting delegation of the 2012 Republican National Convention:
As a National Delegate to the 2012 RNC, I am extremely disappointed that a rule would be passed throug committee that essentially strips the grassroots of all of it’s representative power by ridding State Parties of their ability to choose whom they will send as delegates and alternates to represent their State to the Republican National Convention. The rules change would allow the Presidential nominee sweeping new power to override that process and choose their own National Delegates. The rule also allows the RNC (with only a 3/4 vote) the power to amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention.
The GOP is the political Party of the grassroots. Our national delegates are the boots-on-the-ground that get Republicans elected. We are there for County meetings, State Conventions, National Conventions, and most importantly we spend our time and money canvassing our neighborhoods, going door to door, making phone calls, writing personal endorsement letters, and getting-out-the-vote for Republicans. We are the worker bees, and we are the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Supporters of Ron Paul are all around Tampa. Even though their guy won’t be the nominee, they did come out for the Paul-themed events. Many still believe it’s unfair that Ron Paul didn’t get a speaking slot during the Republican National Convention, but in a recent interview, Paul explained that he turned down a coveted spot because he refuses to back Mitt Romney:
Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian leader who competed against Mitt Romney in the GOP primary, isn’t speaking at the Republican National Convention because he isn’t willing to give Romney his full endorsement, Paul told the New York Times.
In an interview with the Times, Paul said that he was offered an opportunity to speak at the convention this week on two conditions: that he let the Romney campaign vet his speech, and that he give Romney his full support. He declined the offer.
“It wouldn’t be my speech,” Paul said. “That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.”
Mitt Romney, the soon-to-be crowned Republican nominee, and his campaign haven’t done much in recent days to calm the nerves of conservatives. As mentioned earlier today, Romney’s people have been heavily involved in rules changes that are the beginning of the end of grassroot activism in the party process. Romney once again defended his health care reform law, which was the blueprint for ObamaCare and the main reason many GOP primary rejected his candidacy out of hand.
Another slap in the face of grassroots activists came from Avik Roy, who advises Romney on health policy. During an interview on MSNBC, Roy weighed in on some of the platform positions forged, hinting that they posed a problem to a candidate trying to run close to the middle and that activists wouldn’t have much pull inside Romney’s presidency:
Avik Roy, a health care policy adviser to the Romney campaign, said the GOP platform — which includes provisions like a “human life amendment” to the Constitution that would ban abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother — should not be considered a reflection of Romney’s personal views.
“I think it is a statement of what activists in the party, the consensus among activists in the party believe should be the core of activist conservatism,” Roy said. “But that is different from what a candidate who is appealing to the center of the country is going to try to do.”
Tropical Storm Isaac isn’t the only thing on the minds of many conservatives who made the trip to Tampa for the Republican National Convention. There is also some concern over what is being viewed as a power grab to give unprecedented influence to estasblishment Republicans over the platform and rules beginning in 2016:
The Republican National Convention Rules Committee voted 63-38 to approve a new rule allowing granting the Republican National Committee — and Mitt Romney — sweeping new powers to amend the governing document of the GOP.
The move came at the encouragement of Mitt Romney supporters on the committee, including Romney’s top lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who stressed that it would grant “flexibility” to Romney and the committee to adapt to changing political environments. The rule allows the RNC to amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention. And it offers the Republican Establishment a new tool to keep at by Tea Party initiatives that threaten to embarrass or contradict party leadership and stray from a planned message.
Romney, as his party’s nominee, exerts significant influence over the RNC, which is made up of elected party officials from all 50 states, while the larger Convention Rules Committee is larger and has a more grassroots membership.
“This is necessary for the world in which we find ourselves in,” Ginsberg told the committee, adding that it is “important for the political survival of the party in the electoral context,” for the committee to be able to change the rules as it sees fit in the intervening four years between conventions.
Earlier this week, Public Policy Polling gave Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican nominee for United States Senate, some ammunition to show that he was still in the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill. But, as Jim Geraghty pointed out at the National Review, the poll significantly oversampled Republicans, barely giving Akin an edge.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Show Me State finds McCaskill earning 48% support to Akin’s 38%. Nine percent (9%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
With the distraction of his comments on abortion, most Republicans have disavowed Rep. Todd Akin, who won the GOP primary for United States Senate in Missouri earlier this month. But to this point, Akin has rebuffed calls for him to drop out of the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who had been seen as incredibly vulnerable this fall.
There are still mixed signals as to what Akin will ultimately do. Akin did leave the door open yesterday to dropping out, presumably before an important September 25th deadline, which is the last opportunity for the GOP to find a replacement:
Here’s what Missouri Congressman Todd Akin said when I asked if he was in the race to stay – even if it looked like he would lose and possibly cost Republicans control of the Senate.
“Well George, I’m never going to say everything that could possibly happen. I don’t know the future, but I do know this. I knew that the party voters took a look at our hearts, understood who we were, had a chance to meet us in many, many different ways and made a decision,” Akin told me. “And it makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs as opposed to the election process.”
However, Akin has been in Tampa this week talking with social conservatives about fundraising issues since outside money from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and PACs have dried up.
If you’e heading down to the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, you may run into Vice President Joe Biden. That’s right, folks, the Obama campaign’s worst spokesman, just two weeks after saying that the Romney-Ryan ticket would allow Wall Street to put African-Americans “back in chains,” is going to be in a city crowded with Republicans:
Vice President Joe Biden has plans to be in Tampa during the Republican National Convention next week, the Obama campaign said Tuesday. Biden has events in Tampa and in other cities next Monday and Tuesday, the campaign said.
In addition, “a strong bench” of surrogates will be in the Tampa area as well.
While visiting a Minneapolis high school Tuesday afternoon, Biden seemed to embrace his role in Tampa turning to reporters traveling with him, “Who’s going to Florida with me? Any of you going to be in Florida?
“Well I’m the speaker at the convention,” he continued to laughs. “I’m going to be down there.”
What could go wrong?
As noted earlier this week, American Crossroads launched a rather snarky ad endorsing Biden for Vice President, as opposed to someone else on the Democratic Party ticket, because of his proclivity for gaffes: