The 1996 Republican Platform

Adopted August 12, 1996


"We are discovering as a nation that many of our deepest social problems are problems of character and belief. We will never solve those problems until the hearts of parents are turned toward their children; until respect is restored for life and property; until a commitment is renewed to love and serve our neighbor. The common good requires that goodness be common."
Bob Dole, May 23, 1996 in Philadelphia

Upholding the Rights of All

This section of our platform deals with rights and responsibilities. But it deals also with something larger: the common good, our shared sense of what makes a society decent and noble. That takes us beyond government policies and programs to what we are as a people, and what we want to be.

We are the party of the open door. As we approach the start of a new century, the Republican Party is more dedicated than ever to strengthening the social, cultural, and political ties that bind us together as a free people, the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. While our party remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing its historic principles and ideals, we also recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views. We view this diversity of views as a source of strength, not as a sign of weakness, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions. We are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope, and mutual respect.

Americans do not want to be afraid of those they pass on the street, suspicious of strangers, fearful for their children. They do not want to have to fight a constant battle against brutality and degradation in what passes for entertainment. We oppose sexual harassment in the workplace, and must ensure that no one in America is forced to choose between a job and submitting to unwelcome advances. We also oppose indoctrination in the classroom. Americans should not have to tolerate the decline of ethical standards and the collapse of behavioral norms. Most important, they should not have to doubt the truthfulness of their elected leaders.

Reversing those trends won't be easy, but our homes and our children are worth the effort. Government has a small, but vital, role. But most of the burden must be ours: as parents, as consumers, as citizens whose right of free speech empowers us to stand up for the weak and vulnerable - and speak out against the profiteers of violence and moral decay.

That needs to be done, both in our house and in the White House. Bill Clinton can't - or won't - do it. So we will do it without him, and with new national leadership of character and conscience.

We are the party of individual Americans, whose rights we protect and defend as the foundation for opportunity and security for all. Today, as at our founding in the day of Lincoln, we insist no one's rights are negotiable.

As we strive to forge a national consensus on the divisive issues of our time, we call on all Republicans and all Americans to reject the forces of hatred and bigotry. Accordingly, we denounce all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. We condemn attempts by the EEOC or any other arm of government to regulate or ban religious symbols from the work place, and we assert the right of religious leaders to speak out on public issues. We condemn the desecration of places of worship and are proud that congressional Republicans led the fight against church arsons. We believe religious institutions and schools should not be taxed. When government funds privately operated social, welfare, or educational programs, it must not discriminate against religious institutions, whose record in providing services to those in need far exceeds that of the public sector.

The sole source of equal opportunity for all is equality before the law. Therefore, we oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, creed, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We reject the distortion of those laws to cover sexual preference, and we endorse the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent states from being forced to recognize same-sex unions. Because we believe rights inhere in individuals, not in groups, we will attain our nation's goal of equal rights without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment. We scorn Bill Clinton's notion that any person should be denied a job, promotion, contract or a chance at higher education because of their race or gender. Instead, we endorse the Dole-Canady Equal Opportunity Act to end discrimination by the federal government. We likewise endorse this year's Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, to restore to law the original meaning of civil rights.

We renew our historic Republican commitment to equal opportunity for women. In the early days of the suffragist movement, we pioneered the women's right to vote. We take pride in this year's remarkable array of Republican women serving in and running for office and their role in leadership positions in our party, in Congress, and in the states. Two women serve in our House Leadership - a record untouched by the Democrats during their 40 years in power. The full exercise of legal rights depends upon opportunity, and economic growth is the key to continuing progress for women in all fields of endeavor. Public policy must respect and accommodate women whether they are full-time homemakers or pursue a career.

Under Senator Dole's sponsorship, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to ensure full participation by disabled citizens in our country's life. Republicans emphasize community integration and inclusion of persons with disabilities, both by personal example and by practical enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Air Carriers Access Act, and other laws. We will safeguard the interests of disabled persons in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as in federal work force programs. Under a Republican renewal, the abilities of all will be needed in an expanding economy, which alone can carry forward the assistive technology that offers personal progress for everyone. We support full access to the polls, and the entire political process, by disabled citizens. We oppose the non-consensual withholding of health care or treatment because of handicap, age, or infirmity, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which, especially for the poor and those on the margins of society, threaten the sanctity of human life.

The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.

Our goal is to ensure that women with problem pregnancies have the kind of support, material and otherwise, they need for themselves and for their babies, not to be punitive towards those for whose difficult situation we have only compassion. We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion. We salute those who provide alternatives to abortion and offer adoption services. Republicans in Congress took the lead in expanding assistance both for the costs of adoption and for the continuing care of adoptive children with special needs. Bill Clinton vetoed our adoption tax credit the first time around - and opposed our efforts to remove racial barriers to adoption - before joining in this long overdue measure of support for adoptive families.

Worse than that, he vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortions, a procedure denounced by a committee of the American Medical Association and rightly branded as four-fifths infanticide. We applaud Bob Dole's commitment to revoke the Clinton executive orders concerning abortion and to sign into law an end to partial-birth abortions.

We reaffirm the promise of the Fifth Amendment: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This Takings Clause protects the homes and livelihood of Americans against the governmental greed and abuse of power that characterizes the Clinton Administration; we will strictly enforce it.

We defend the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. We will promote training in the safe usage of firearms, especially in programs for women and the elderly. We strongly support Bob Dole's National Instant Check Initiative, which will help keep all guns out of the hands of convicted felons. The point-of-purchase instant check has worked well in many states and now it is time to extend this system all across America. We applaud Bob Dole's commitment to have the national instant check system operational by the end of 1997. In one of the strangest actions of his tenure, Bill Clinton abolished Operation Triggerlock, the Republican initiative to jail any felon caught with a gun. We will restore that effort and will set by law minimum mandatory penalties for the use of guns in committing a crime: 5 years for possession, 10 years for brandishing, and 20 for discharge.

We affirm the right of individuals to participate in labor organizations and to bargain collectively, consistent with State laws. Because that participation should always be voluntary. we support the right of States to enact Right-to-Work laws. We will restore the original scope of the Hobbs Act, barring union officials from extortion and violence. We will vigorously implement the Supreme Court's Beck decision to ensure that workers are not compelled to subsidize political activity, like the $35 million slush fund extorted this year from rank and file members by Washington-based labor leaders. We will reverse Bill Clinton's unconscionable Executive Order that deprived workers of their right to know how their union dues are spent.

A Sensible Immigration Policy

As a nation of immigrants, we welcome those who follow our laws and come to our land to seek a better life. New Americans strengthen our economy, enrich our culture, and defend the nation in war and in peace. At the same time, we are determined to reform the system by which we welcome them to the American family. We must set immigration at manageable levels, balance the competing goals of uniting families of our citizens and admitting specially talented persons, and end asylum abuses through expedited exclusion of false claimants.

Bill Clinton's immigration record does not match his rhetoric. While talking tough on illegal immigration, he has proposed a reduction in the number of border patrol agents authorized by the Republicans in Congress, has opposed the most successful border control program in decades (Operation Hold the Line in Texas), has opposed Proposition 187 in California which 60 percent of Californians supported, and has opposed Republican efforts to ensure that non-citizens do not take advantage of expensive welfare programs. Unlike Bill Clinton, we stand with the American people on immigration policy and will continue to reform and enforce our immigration laws to ensure that they reflect America's national interest.

We also support efforts to secure our borders from the threat of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has reached crisis proportions, with more than four million illegal aliens now present in the United States. That number, growing by 300,000 each year, burdens taxpayers, strains public services, takes jobs, and increases crime. Republicans in both the House and Senate have passed bills that tighten border enforcement, speed up deportation of criminal aliens, toughen penalties for overstaying visas, and streamline the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Illegal aliens should not receive public benefits other than emergency aid, and those who become parents while illegally in the United States should not be qualified to claim benefits for their offspring. Legal immigrants should depend for assistance on their sponsors, who are legally responsible for their financial well-being, not the American taxpayers. Just as we require "deadbeat dads" to provide for the children they bring into the world, we should require "deadbeat sponsors" to provide for the immigrants they bring into the country. We support a constitutional amendment or constitutionally-valid legislation declaring that children born in the United States of parents who are not legally present in the United States or who are not long-term residents are not automatically citizens.

We endorse the Dole/Coverdell proposal to make crimes of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect and child abandonment committed by aliens residing in this country deportable offenses under our immigration laws.

We call for harsh penalties against exploiters who smuggle illegal aliens and for those who profit from the production of false documents. Republicans believe that by eliminating the magnet for illegal immigration, increasing border security, enforcing our immigration laws, and producing counterfeit-proof documents, we will finally put an end to the illegal immigration crisis. We oppose the creation of any national ID card.

From Many, One

America's ethnic diversity within a shared national culture is one of our country's greatest strengths. While we benefit from our differences, we must also strengthen the ties that bind us to one another. Foremost among those is the flag. Its deliberate desecration is not "free speech," but an assault against our history and our hopes. We support a constitutional amendment that will restore to the people, through their elected representatives, their right to safeguard Old Glory. We condemn Bill Clinton's refusal, once again, to protect and preserve the most precious symbol of our Republic.

English, our common language, provides a shared foundation which has allowed people from every corner of the world to come together to build the American nation. The use of English is indispensable to all who wish to participate fully in our society and realize the American dream. As Bob Dole has said: "For more than two centuries now, English has been a force for unity, indispensable to the process of transforming untold millions of immigrants from all parts of the globe into citizens of the most open and free society the world has ever seen." For newcomers, learning the English language has always been the fastest route to the mainstream of American life. That should be the goal of bilingual education programs. We support the official recognition of English as the nation's common language. We advocate foreign language training in our schools and retention of heritage languages in homes and cultural institutions. Foreign language fluency is also an essential component of America's competitiveness in the world market.

We will strengthen Native Americans' self-determination by respecting tribal sovereignty, encouraging a pro-business and pro-development climate on reservations. We uphold the unique government-to-government relationship between the tribes and the United States, and we honor our nation's trust obligations to them. In fulfillment thereof, we will ensure that the resources, financial and otherwise, which the United States holds in trust are well-managed, audited, and protected. We second Bob Dole's call for legislation authorizing tribal governments to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. We endorse efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages.

Getting Tough on Crime

"Women in America know better than anyone about the randomness and ruthlessness of crime. It is a shameful, national disgrace that nightfall has become synonymous with fear for so many of America's women."
Bob Dole, May 28, 1996 in Aurora, Colorado

During Bill Clinton's tenure, America has become a more fearful place, especially for the elderly and for women and children. Violent crime has turned our homes into prisons, our streets and schoolyards into battlegrounds. It devours half a trillion dollars every year. Unfortunately, far worse could be coming in the near future. While we acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of single parents, we recognize that a generation of fatherless boys raises the prospect of soaring juvenile crime.

This is, in part the legacy of liberalism - in the old Democrat Congress, in the Clinton Department of Justice, and in the courts, where judges appointed by Democrat presidents continue their assault against the rights of law-abiding Americans. For too long government policy has been controlled by criminals and their defense lawyers. Democrat Congresses cared more about rights of criminals than safety for Americans. Bill Clinton arbitrarily closed off Pennsylvania Avenue, the nation's Main Street, for his protection, while his policies left the public unprotected against vicious criminals. As a symbol of our determination to restore the rule of law - in the White House as well as in our streets - we will reopen Pennsylvania Avenue.

After the elections of 1994, the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate fought back with legislation that ends frivolous, costly, and unnecessarily lengthy death-row appeals, requires criminals to pay restitution to their victims, speeds the removal of criminal aliens, and steps up the fight against terrorism. Congressional Republicans put into law a truth-in-sentencing prison grant program to provide incentives to states which enact laws requiring violent felons to serve at least 85% of their sentences and replaced a myriad of Democrat "Washington knows best" prevention programs with bloc grants to cities and counties to use to fight crime as they see fit. They put an end to federal court early-release orders for prison overcrowding and made it much harder for prisoners to file frivolous lawsuits about prison conditions.

There's more to do, once Bill Clinton's veto threats no longer block the way. We will establish no-frills prisons where prisoners are required to work productively and make the threat of jail a real deterrent to crime. Prisons should not be places of rest and relaxation. We will reform the Supreme Court's fanciful exclusionary rule, which has allowed a generation of criminals to get off on technicalities.

Juvenile crime is one of the most difficult challenges facing our nation. The juvenile justice system is broken. It fails to punish the minor crimes that lead to larger offenses, and lacks early intervention to keep delinquency from turning into violent crime. Truancy laws are not enforced, positive role models are lacking, and parental responsibility is overlooked. We will stress accountability at every step in the system and require adult trials for juveniles who commit adult crimes.

In addition, not only is juvenile crime on the rise, but unsupervised juveniles (especially at night) are most often the victims of abuse in our society. Recognizing that local jurisdictions have a clear and concise understanding of their problems, we encourage them to develop and enact innovative programs to address juvenile crime. We also encourage them to consider juvenile nocturnal curfews as an effective law enforcement tool in helping reduce juvenile crime and juvenile victimization.

Juvenile criminal proceedings should be open to victims and the public. Juvenile conviction records should not be sealed but made available to law enforcement agencies, the courts, and those who hire for sensitive work in schools and day-care centers.

Because liberal jurists keep expanding the rights of the accused, Republicans propose a Constitutional amendment to protect victims' rights: audio and visual testimony of victims kept on file for future hearings, full restitution, protection from intimidation or violence by the offender, notification of court proceedings, a chance to be heard in plea bargains, the right to remain in court during trials and hearings concerning the crimes committed against them, a voice in the sentencing proceedings, notice of the release or escape of offenders. Bill Clinton hypocritically endorsed our Victim's Rights Amendment while naming judges who opposed capital punishment, turned felons loose, and even excused murder as a form of social protest. Bob Dole, the next Republican president will end that nonsense and make our courts once again an instrument of justice.

While the federal government's role is essential, most law enforcement must remain in the hands of local communities, directed by State and local officials who are closely answerable to the people whose lives are affected by crime. In that regard, we support community policing; nothing inhibits local crime like an officer in the neighborhood. Bill Clinton promised 100,000 more police officers on the beat but, according to his own Attorney General, delivered no more than 17,000. He ignored local law enforcers by tying the program in knots of red tape and high costs. Now he is diverting millions of its dollars, appropriated by congressional Republicans to fight street crime, to state parks and environmental projects. It's time to return those anti-crime resources to communities and let them decide what works best to keep their homes, schools, and workplaces safe. This would result in far more new police officers than Bill Clinton's program and give communities additional crime fighting resources they need.

We will work with local authorities to prevent prison inmates from receiving disability or other government entitlements while incarcerated. We support efforts to allow peace officers, including qualified retirees, to assist their colleagues and protect their communities even when they are out of their home jurisdictions to the extent this is consistent with applicable state and local law. We will amend the Fair Labor Standards Act so that corrections officers can volunteer to assist local law enforcement.

Crimes against women and children demand an emphatic response. Under Bob Dole and Dick Zimmer's leadership, Republicans in Congress pushed through Megan's Law - the requirement that local communities be notified when sex offenders and kidnappers are released - in response to the growing number of violent sexual assaults and murders like the brutal murder of a little girl in New Jersey. We call for special penalties against thugs who assault or batter pregnant women and harm them or their unborn children. We endorse Bob Dole's call to bring federal penalties for child pornography in line with far tougher State penalties: ten years for a first offense, fifteen for the second, and life for a third. We believe it is time to revisit the Supreme Court's arbitrary decision of 1977 that protects even the most vicious rapists from the death penalty. Bob Dole authored a tough federal statute which provides for the admissibility of prior similar criminal acts of defendants in sexual assault cases. This important law enforcement tool should serve as a model for the states. We continue our strong support of capital punishment for those who commit heinous federal crimes; including the kingpins of the narcotics trade.

We wish to express our support and sympathy for all victims of terrorism and their families. Acts of terrorism against Americans and American interests must be stopped and those who commit them must be brought to justice. We recommend a Presidentially appointed "blue ribbon" commission to study more effective methods of prosecuting terrorists.

Only Republican resolve can prepare our nation to deal with the four deadly threats facing us in the early years of the 21st Century: violent crime, drugs, terrorism, and international organized crime. Those perils are interlocked - and all are escalating. This is no time for excuses. It's time for a change.

Solving the Drug Crisis

The verdict is in on Bill Clinton's moral leadership: after 11 years of steady decline, the use of marijuana among teens doubled in the two years after 1992. At the same time, the use of cocaine and methamphetamines dramatically increased.

That shocks but should not surprise. For in the war on drugs - an essential component of the fight against crime - today's Democratic Party has been a conscientious objector. Nowhere is the discrepancy between Bill Clinton's rhetoric and his actions more apparent. Mr. Clinton's personal record has been a betrayal of the nation's trust, sending the worst possible signal to the nation's youth. At the urging of the Secret Service, the White House had to institute a drug-testing program for Clinton staffers who were known to be recent users of illegal narcotics. At the same time, he drastically cut funding for drug interdiction. The Office of National Drug Control Policy was cut by 80 percent, and federal drug prosecutions dropped 25 percent. His Attorney General proposed to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and related crimes, and his Surgeon General advocated legalization of narcotics. Hundreds of suspected drug smugglers have been allowed to go free at the border. Simultaneously, the use of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin has increased, especially among young people. Now narcotics are again fueling the acceleration of crime rates, putting the nation on a collision course with the future.

Bill Clinton's weakness in international affairs has worsened the situation here at home. One case in point: He certified that Mexico has cooperated with our drug interdiction effort when 70 percent of drugs smuggled into the U. S. come across our southern border - and when the Mexican government ignored 165 extradition orders for drug criminals. Discredited at home and abroad, he lacks both the stature and the credibility to lead us toward a drug-free America.

A war against drugs requires moral leadership now lacking in the White House. Throughout the 1980s, the Republican approach - no legalization, no tolerance, no excuses - turned the tide against drug abuse. We can do it again by emphasizing prevention, interdiction, a tough international approach, and a crack-down on users. That requires reversing one of Bill Clinton's most offensive actions: his shocking purge of every U. S. Attorney in the country shortly after he took office. This unprecedented firing destroyed our first line of defense against drug traffickers and other career criminals. Our country's most experienced and dedicated prosecutors were replaced with Clintonite liberals, some of whom have refused to prosecute major drug dealers, foreign narcotics smugglers, and child pornographers.

In a Dole Administration, U. S. Attorneys will prosecute and jail those who prey upon the innocent. We support upgrading our interdiction effort by establishing a Deputy Commissioner for Drug Enforcement within the Customs Service. We will intensify our intelligence efforts against international drug traffickers and use whatever means necessary to destroy their operations and seize their personal accounts.

We support strong penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences, for drug trafficking, distribution and drug-related crimes. Drug use is closely related to crime and recidivism. Drug testing should be made a routine feature of the criminal justice process at every stage, including the juvenile justice system. Test results should be used in deciding pretrial release, sentencing, and probation revocation.

A safer America must include highways without drunk or drug-impaired drivers. We support the toughest possible State laws to deal with drivers impaired by substance abuse and advocate federal cooperation, not compulsion, toward that end.

The Bottom Line:
From The Top Down

Making America safe again will be a tremendous undertaking, in its own way as heroic as was the liberation of Europe from a different kind of criminal half a century ago. At the grassroots, that crusade already has enlisted the men and women of local law enforcement. Now they need a leader worthy of their cause - someone whose life reflects respect for the law, not evasion of it. Bill Clinton need not apply.

Bob Dole will be a president committed to the protection and safety of all Americans. However, his strength is diminished without a court system supportive of the national fight against violent crime. That is the bottom line of this year's presidential election: Who should chart the course of law enforcement for the next generation by naming as many as an additional 30 percent of our federal judges and the next several justices to the U. S. Supreme Court? Bill Clinton, the master of excuse and evasion? Or Bob Dole, whose life has been an exercise in honor and duty?

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