The 2004 Democratic and Republican party platforms have a lot in common. In fact, they arguably have more commonalities than differences. Each party is apparently attempting to appeal to the middle. Nevertheless, each party’s leanings are still evident to the discerning reader. Each of the two platforms discusses many of the same issues, each using it’s own rhetoric to dance around them in a non-committal way. The similarities between the two parties’ platforms is evident from the start in the striking resemblance between the title of each party’s platform, both of which make reference to national security and foreign policy. Additionally, each platform deals with “the war on terror,” the economy, healthcare, community, family, and energy independence. There are, however, notable differences between the two parties’ platforms. These difference show up mainly in the way each party addresses the issues at hand.
Notable among the differences in each party’s rhetoric is their take on how to strengthen the economy. Although both parties speak of creating jobs to strengthen the economy, the Democratic party’s rhetoric regarding the economy focuses on job creation and retention from offshoring through tax reforms. The Democratic party emphasizes the worth of America’s working middle class and claims that it is underserved and overtaxed by the Republican party. This, they say, the Republican party does to inure to the benefit of America’s upper class and big businesses. Their solution: add tax cuts for the middle class and eliminate those for the wealthy and for big businesses. The Republican party speaks of tax reform also, but its rhetoric contradicts the Democratic party’s. The Republican party claims that it is already working on cutting taxes for the very same “hard-working Americans” the Democratic party claims it disdains.
Another notable difference in rhetoric between the two party platforms is each party’s take on energy independence. The Democratic party’s rhetoric paints a picture of a Republican party which would put the interests of “big oil” ahead of national security, and which takes no thought for the rising prices of gasoline and heating oil, presumably for the sake of higher profits for the aforementioned interests of “big oil.” The Democratic party proposes to eliminate the United States’ dependency on Middle East oil by negotiating with other producers and advancing technology focused on alternative energy sources to reduce overall dependency on oil. Once again, the Republican party’s rhetoric on this issue is in direct contradiction to the Democratic party’s. It claims to support renewable energy through tax credits and the expanded use of alternative fuels to decrease dependency on foreign oil. Additionally, the party claims to support research and investment toward alternative fuel technology.
There is however, at least one significant difference between the two parties’ platforms: their take on marriage. The Republican party is clearly committed to upholding and protecting the sanctity of marriage and the traditional family for the sake of society, by pushing for a constitutional amendment designed to define marriage as it has been traditionally defined, at the federal level, so that states can no longer legitimize same-sex live-in relationships as equal to marriage. The Democratic party, on the other hand, rejects the Republican party’s proposed amendment and supports gay and lesbian “families” as defined by judges at the state level, which the Republican party affirms are overstepping their boundaries.
Both party platforms were comprehensive in addressing most, if not all, of the jugular issues America faces at home and abroad today, although each in its own way. While each party played to the middle, its true colors shone through, nonetheless, in its rhetoric. Underneath the centrist rhetoric, America’s two-party system is alive and well. Vive la difference!