The First Amendment enshrines in our Constitution and guarantees indispensable democratic freedoms of speech, press, and association, and, the right to petition our government. The Republican party affirms that any regulation of the political process must not infringe upon the rights of the people to full participation in the political process. The principal cure for the ills of democracy is greater participation in the political process by more citizens. To that end, we have one guiding principle in the development of laws to regulate campaigns: Will any particular proposal encourage or restrict the energetic engagement of Americans in elections? Governor Bush’s agenda for more honest and more open politics meets that standard. It will:
Stop the abuses of corporate and labor "soft" money contributions to political parties.
Enact "Paycheck Protection," ensuring that no union member is forced to contribute to anybody’s campaign — and stopping an annual rip-off of $300 million from union families by Washington-based politicos.
Preserve the right of every individual and all groups — whether for us or against us — to express their opinions and advocate their issues. We will not allow any arm of government to restrict this constitutionally guaranteed right.
Level the playing field by forbidding incumbents to roll over their leftover campaign funds into a campaign for a different office.
Require full and timely disclosure on the Internet of all campaign contributions — so the media and the public can immediately know who is giving how much to whom.
Encourage all citizens to donate their time and resources to the campaigns of their choice by updating for inflation the quarter-century-old limits on individual contributions.
Preserve access to the Internet for political speech and debate.
Gerrymandered congressional districts are an affront to democracy and an insult to the voters. We oppose that and any other attempt to rig the electoral process.
Common Sense In Regulation
Effective government requires regulation for health, safety, and other concerns. By the same token, regulation requires regular review — for efficiency, economy, and plain common sense. That Republican model of regulatory reform is a good fit for an Information Age economy. It will replace a bureaucratic mentality clicking along at a Morse Code pace. We will use the advance of science and information technology to:
Target the most serious risks to health, safety, and the environment, then put regulatory resources where they best serve the public, not politics.
Make sound science, not ideological whim, the basis for regulation, with peer-reviewed risk assessments and full disclosure.
Require periodic review of existing regulations, to strengthen where necessary and change where obsolete.
Require agencies to disclose the cost to consumers and small businesses of any proposed regulations.
Let the American people know the full price they pay for government regulations, through a new regulatory budget that explains the likely cost for meeting regulatory requirements.
Use cost-benefit analyses of regulations to develop alternatives to the outdated command-and-control attitude of recent years.
Retrain civil servants to work with those affected by regulation rather than dictating to them.
The current administration has repeatedly evaded the normal regulatory process through executive orders, some of dubious legality. Withdrawing these orders should be a priority of a new administration dedicated to the rule of law.
We oppose and will work to end taxpayer supported grants for projects and programs that promote religious bigotry in America.
Judicial Reform: Courts That Work, Laws That Make Sense
Americans have the right to a judicial system they can trust. There is no question that the need for reform extends to the judicial branch of government. Many judges disregard the safety, values, and freedom of law-abiding citizens. At the expense of our children and families, they make up laws, invent new rights, free vicious criminals, and pamper felons in prison. They have arbitrarily overturned state laws enacted by citizen referenda, utterly disregarding the right of the people and the democratic process.
The sound principle of judicial review has turned into an intolerable presumption of judicial supremacy. A Republican Congress, working with a Republican president, will restore the separation of powers and reestablish a government of law. There are different ways to achieve that goal — setting terms for federal judges, for example, or using Article III of the Constitution to limit their appellate jurisdiction — but the most important factor is the appointing power of the presidency. We applaud Governor Bush’s pledge to name only judges who have demonstrated that they share his conservative beliefs and respect the Constitution.
Reform of the legal profession is an essential part of court reform. Today’s litigation practices make a mockery of justice, hinder our country’s competitiveness in the world market and, far worse, erode the public’s trust in the entire judicial process.
Avarice among many plaintiffs’ lawyers has clogged our civil courts, drastically changed the practice of medicine, and costs American companies and consumers more than $150 billion a year. Who profits? On average, more than fifty cents of every dollar paid out in tort cases goes to lawyers’ fees, not to an injured party. This amounts to a tax on consumers to fatten the wallets of trial lawyers.
Let’s be blunt about the effects of all that cash: Our civil justice reforms have been blocked in the Capitol and vetoed in the Oval Office. It’s why federal agencies have colluded with the trial lawyer lobby in sweetheart litigation, to advance through the courts what they could not accomplish through the political process. We fully support the role of the courts in vindicating the rights of individuals and organizations, but we want to require higher standards for trial lawyers within federal jurisdiction, much as Governor Bush has already done in Texas — and as we encourage other States to do within their own legal codes. To achieve that goal, we will strengthen the federal rules of civil procedure to increase penalties for frivolous suits and impose a "Three Strikes, You’re Out" rule on attorneys who repeatedly file such suits. We will limit "fishing expeditions" by amending federal discovery rules, curb the use of junk science in testimony, and end the abusive use of the RICO statute. We encourage all states to consider placing caps on non-economic and punitive damages in civil cases. We also support such caps in federal causes of action. We also encourage states to examine the effects on the democratic process of advancing policies through litigation that could not be accomplished through the political process.
We will enact a Teacher Protection Act to protect educators from merit less federal lawsuits against their efforts to maintain discipline in the classroom. We will extend similar protections to non-profit organizations — churches, civic and community groups, and the volunteers who sustain them.
To reduce health care costs and keep doctors practicing in critical areas like obstetrics, we will reform medical malpractice law on the federal level and urge decisive action on the state level as well.
To encourage settlements and to discourage prolonged litigation, a Fair Settlements Rule should be enacted requiring either party in federal court who rejects a timely, reasonable, and good faith pre-trial settlement offer, and who ultimately loses their case, to pay the other party’s costs, including legal fees. We also encourage states to consider enacting such rules. To improve access to justice, we will make it easier for cases of national import to be heard in federal courts.
To protect clients against unscrupulous lawyers, we will enact a Clients’ Bill of Rights for all federal courts, requiring attorneys to disclose both the range of their fees and their ethical obligation to charge reasonable fees and allowing those fees to be challenged in federal courts. Because private lawyers should not unreasonably profit at public expense, we will prohibit federal agencies from paying contingency fees and encourage states to do so as well. Even more important, we will require attorneys to return to the people any excessive fees they gain under contract to States or municipalities.
An integral part of legal reform is a federal product liability law. Without it, consumers face higher costs, needed products don’t make it to the market, and American jobs are lost to foreign competitors. That, too, will change when the American people break the grip of the trial lawyers on our legal system.
The federal government has a special responsibility, ethical and legal, to make the American dream accessible to Native Americans. Unfortunately, the resources that the United States holds in trust for them, financial and otherwise, have been misused and abused. While many tribes have become energetic participants in the mainstream of American life, the serious social ills afflicting some reservations have been worsened by decades of mismanagement from Washington. In its place, we offer these guiding principles:
Tribal governments are best situated to gauge the needs of their communities and members.
Political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency are twin pillars of an effective Indian policy.
Private sector initiatives, rather than public assistance, can best improve material conditions in Indian communities.
High taxes and unreasonable regulations stifle new and expanded businesses and thwart the creation of job opportunities and prosperity.
We will strengthen Native American self-determination by respecting tribal sovereignty, encouraging economic development on reservations, and working with them to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. We uphold the unique government-to-government relationship between the tribes and the United States and honor our nation’s trust obligations to them.
We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their cultures and languages.
The Nation’s Capital
The District of Columbia is a special responsibility of the federal government and should be a model for urban areas throughout the country. Its downhill slide has at least been arrested, both through its internal efforts and the active intervention of congressional Republicans, who have taken unprecedented steps to help the city recover. Their D.C. homebuyers’ tax credit is helping to revitalize marginal neighborhoods; their landmark tuition assistance act has opened the doors of the nation’s colleges to D.C. students.
Now, to enhance the city’s economic security, reverse the movement out of the city, and ensure a safe and healthy environment for families, we advocate deep reductions in the District’s taxes, currently among the highest in the nation, and encourage user-friendly development policies.
We call once again for structural reform of the city’s schools so that none of its children will be left behind. We strongly support both charter schools and the opportunity scholarships for poor kids that have been repeatedly blocked by the administration.
We respect the design of the Framers of the Constitution that our nation’s capital has a unique status and should remain independent of any individual state.
Americans In The Territories
We welcome greater participation in all aspects of the political process by Americans residing in Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico. Since no single approach can meet the needs of those diverse communities, we emphasize respect for their wishes regarding their relationship to the rest of the Union. We affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution, with all the rights and responsibilities it entails.
We support the Native American Samoans’ efforts to preserve their culture and land-tenure system, which fosters self-reliance and strong extended-family values.
We support increased local self-government for the United States citizens of the Virgin Islands, and closer cooperation between the local and federal governments to promote private sector-led development and self-sufficiency.
We recognize that Guam is a strategically vital U.S. territory in the far western Pacific, an American fortress in the Asian region. We affirm our support for the patriotic U.S. citizens of Guam to achieve greater local self-government, an improved federal-territorial relationship, new economic development strategies, and continued self-determination as desired with respect to political status.
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
Principled American Leadership
“The duties of our day are different. But the values of our nation do not change.Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power — or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness. This is the strong heart of America. And this will be the spirit of my administration.”
— Governor George W. Bush
The Emerging Fellowship of Freedom
The Twenty-First Century opens with unique promise for the United States. Democratic values are celebrated on every continent. The productivity and ingenuity of American business are the envy of the world. American innovation is leading the way in the information age. New technology speeds an exchange of ideas that often bear the mark of American inspiration. No other great power challenges American international preeminence. There is every reason for Americans to be extraordinarily optimistic about their future.
Few nations in history have been granted such a singular opportunity to shape the future. Even after World War II the United States had to reckon with a divided world and terrible dangers. Now America can help mold international ideals and institutions for decades to come. Handed the torch by generations that won great battles, our generation of Americans with its allies and friends can build a different and better world, promoting U.S. interests and principles, avoiding the economic convulsions and perilous conflicts that so scarred the century just past. Through a distinctly American internationalism, a new Republican president will build public support for a new strategy that can lead the United States of America toward a more peaceful and prosperous world for us, our children, and future generations.
Almost all Americans know they cannot prosper alone in the world. They know that America is safest when more and more countries share a profound belief in political and economic liberty, human dignity, and the rule of law, when more and more nations join the United States in an emerging fellowship of freedom.
That is what happened during the twelve years of Republican presidential leadership from 1981 to 1992. The Cold War ended with the triumph of freedom. The Soviet Empire collapsed, and the USSR followed it into history. The proud Atlantic community welcomed a united Germany and new friends in Central and Eastern Europe. Iraq tried the law of the jungle and was routed, its aggressive power broken. The Arab-Israeli peace process was revived. Alliances and friendships in Asia were robust and successful. Mexico joined with the United States in an unprecedented new economic partnership as peace and democracy spread through Latin America. Around the globe, the word, the ideals and the power of the United States commanded respect. The American presidency showed bright and purposeful.
In the last eight years the administration has squandered the opportunity granted to the United States by the courage and sacrifice of previous generations:
The administration has run America’s defenses down over the decade through inadequate resources, promiscuous commitments, and the absence of a forward-looking military strategy.
The ballistic missile threat to the United States has been persistently dismissed, delaying for years the day when America will have the capability to defend itself against this growing danger.
The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration’s diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries.
World trade talks in Seattle that the current administration had sponsored collapsed in spectacular failure. Authority to negotiate new fast-track trade agreements was slapped down by the administration’s own party in the Congress. An initiative to establish free trade throughout the Americas has stalled because of this lack of Presidential leadership.
The problems of Mexico have been ignored, as our indispensable neighbor to the south struggled with too little American help to deal with its formidable challenges.
The tide of democracy in Latin America has begun to ebb with a sharp rise in corruption and narco-trafficking.
A misguided policy toward China was exemplified by President Clinton’s trip to Beijing that produced an embarrassing presidential kowtow and a public insult to our longstanding ally, Japan.
With weak and wavering policies toward Russia, the administration has diverted its gaze from corruption at the top of the Russian government, the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Chechnya, and the export of dangerous Russian technologies to Iran and elsewhere.
A chorus of empty threats destroyed America’s credibility in the Balkans, so that promised safe havens became killing fields.
The administration prolonged the war in Kosovo by publicly limiting America’s military options — something no Commander-in-Chief should ever do.
A generation of American efforts to slow proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has unraveled as first India and Pakistan set off their nuclear bombs, then Iraq defied the international community. Token air strikes against Iraq could not long mask the collapse of an inspection regime that had — until then — at least kept an ambitious, murderous tyrant from acquiring additional nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
A humanitarian intervention in Somalia was escalated thoughtlessly into nation-building at the cost of the lives of courageous Americans.
A military intervention in Haiti displayed administration indecision and incoherence and, after billions of dollars had been spent, accomplished nothing of lasting value
Reacting belatedly to inevitable crises, the administration constantly enlarges the reach of its rhetoric — most recently in Vice President Gore’s "new security agenda" that adds disease, climate, and all the world’s ethnic or religious conflicts to an undiminished set of existing American responsibilities. If there is some limit to candidate Gore’s new agenda for America as global social worker, he has yet to define it.
It is time for America to regain its focus. Winston Churchill, after he had lived through other years that the "locust hath eaten," declared: "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences." As idle indulgence gives way to a new Republican president in the coming new "period of consequences," the United States can again regain the hope it lost eight years ago. We can restore our country’s sense of international purpose and national honor.
A Republican president will identify and pursue vital American national interests. He will set priorities and he will stick to them. Under his leadership, the United States will build and secure the peace. Republicans know what it takes to accomplish this: robust military forces, strong alliances, expanding trade, and resolute diplomacy.
Yet this new realism must be inspired by what we stand for as a nation. Republicans know that the American commitment to freedom is the true source of our nation’s strength. That is why, for one example, Congressional Republicans have made political and religious liberty a cornerstone of their approach to international affairs. That commitment is the glue that binds our great alliances. It is strong precisely because it is not just an American ideal. We propose our principles; we must not impose our culture. Yet the basic values of human freedom and dignity are universal.
A Military for the Twenty-First Century
Republicans are the party of peace through strength. A strong and well-trained American military is the world’s best guarantee of peace. It is the shield of this republic’s liberty, security, and prosperity. Only a President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, can ensure that our military stands ready to defend America and triumph against new challenges.
A Republican president and a Republican Congress will transform America’s defense capabilities for the information age, ensuring that U.S. armed forces remain paramount against emerging dangers.
They will restore the health of a defense industry weakened by a combination of neglect and misguided policies. To do all this, the United States must align its military power with the strengths of American society: our skilled people, our advanced technology, and our proficiency at integrating fast-paced systems into potent networks. While we are on the crest of a new age in military technology, we will not forget that the strength of our military lies with the combat soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine.
Americans are justly proud of their armed forces. But today, only nine years after the tremendous victory in the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military faces growing problems in readiness, morale, and its ability to prepare for the threats of the future. The administration has cut defense spending to its lowest percentage of gross domestic product since before Pearl Harbor. At the same time, the current administration has casually sent American armed forces on dozens of missions without clear goals, realizable objectives, favorable rules of engagement, or defined exit strategies.
Over the past seven years, a shrunken American military has been run ragged by a deployment tempo that has eroded its military readiness. Many units have seen their operational requirements increased four-fold, wearing out both people and equipment. Only last fall the Army certified two of its premier combat divisions as unready for war because of underfunding, mismanagement, and over-
commitment to peacekeeping missions around the globe. More Army units and the other armed services report similar problems. It is a national scandal that almost one quarter of our Army’s active combat strength is unfit for wartime duty.
When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness. When it comes to military health, the administration is not providing an adequate military health care system for active-duty service members and their families and for retired service members and their dependents. The nation is failing to fulfill its ethical, and legal health care obligations to those that are serving or have honorably served in the Armed Forces of the United States.
It is no surprise that the all-volunteer force — the pride of America — is struggling to recruit and retain soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. As recruiting lags, well-trained personnel are leaving in record numbers. Those dedicated military personnel that stay in the force face a pay gap of some, 13 percent relative to their civilian counterparts. Thousands of military families are forced to rely on food stamps. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that two-thirds of the nation’s military housing is substandard. The calculated indifference of the administration to national defense has forced thousands of our most experienced and patriotic warriors to leave the military. We will once again make wearing the uniform the object of national pride.
The new Republican government will renew the bond of trust between the Commander-in-Chief, the American military, and the American people. The military is not a civilian police force or a political referee. We believe the military must no longer be the object of social experiments. We affirm traditional military culture. We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
The U.S. military under the leadership of a Republican President and a Republican Congress will focus on its most demanding task — fighting and winning in combat. Readiness prevents wars. Also, by being prepared for this most exacting mission with an uncommon sense of urgency, our military will know, unlike today, that its loyalty and self-sacrifice have meaning and purpose.
In a time of fluid change and uncertainty, intelligence is truly America’s first line of defense. The current administration has weakened that defense by allowing a series of shocking security breaches, from blatant espionage and its virtual abandonment of national security-related export controls, to sheer sloppiness at the highest levels of government. This must stop, immediately. Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments. A Republican administration working with the Congress will respect the needs and quiet sacrifices of these public servants as it strengthens America’s intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities and reorients them toward the dangers of the future.
A Republican president will challenge America’s military leaders to envision a new architecture of American defense for decades to come. Our next president will balance the need to prepare for information age battles while keeping our conventional fighting skills second to none. To pay for profligate deployments, the administration’s defense budgets have been eating their seed corn — slashing spending on modernization to levels not seen since before the Korean War, undermining the health of our defense industry and producing what one administration official admitted was a "death spiral" for the U.S. defense capability of the future. Even our elite combat units are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find funds for basic training.
A Republican president, working in partnership with a Republican Congress, will push beyond marginal improvements and incorporate new technologies and new strategies — spending more and investing wisely to transform our military into a true twenty-first century force. A Republican government will use this time of relative American strength in the world to prepare for a different kind of future. In the twenty-first century U.S. forces must be agile, lethal, readily deployable, and require a minimum of logistical support. They must also be fully prepared for possible enemy use of weapons of mass destruction.
To build such U.S. military forces will require foresight and steadfast commitment. We must be willing to act now to give the next generation of Americans what they will need to protect our country. This will also require a new spirit of innovation. Republicans believe that our military leaders will welcome and meet these challenges. Moments of national opportunity are either seized or lost. America’s opportunity beckons: to demonstrate that a new approach to U.S. defense can shape the future with new concepts, new strategies, and new resolve.
The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve are an important part of the nation’s military readiness, and we will maintain their strength in the States. Their role as citizen soldiers must continue to be a proud tradition that links every community in the country with the cause of national security. The Republican party created the all-volunteer force and opposes reinstitution of the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the advancement of women in the military, support their exemption from ground combat units, and call for implementation of the recommendations of the Kassebaum Commission, which unanimously recommended that co-ed basic training be ended. We support restoration of sound priorities in the making of personnel policies, and candid analysis of the consequences of unprecedented social changes in the military. We will put renewed emphasis on encouraging the best and brightest of our young people to join our armed forces.
As the traditional advocate of America’s veterans, the Republican Party remains committed to fulfilling America’s obligations to them. That is why we defeated the administration’s attempt to replace veterans’ health care with a national system for everybody. It is why Congressional Republicans enacted the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, to thwart attempts to water down veterans’ preference in federal civil service hiring and retention, and why they created the National Veterans Business Development Corporation to assist vets in becoming entrepreneurs. The same holds true for their Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, a first step toward correcting the deficiencies in medical care for vets and ensuring a medical infrastructure that will better honor the nation’s commitment to those who served. In a Republican administration, a true advocate for veterans will become Secretary of Veteran Affairs.
The maintenance and expansion of our national cemeteries is a solemn duty; a Republican administration will attend to it. Many of the programs designed to assist veterans cry out for modernization and reform. The American people cannot be content with the current unemployment rate of recently separated veterans, or with the significant number of veterans among the homeless. With a backlog of almost a half million cases, the Veterans Benefit Administration needs to be brought into the Information Age. The work of the Veterans Employment and Training Service needs a stronger focus on vocational education, and the nation as a whole must reconsider the ways restrictive licensing and certification rules prevent fully qualified vets from moving up the opportunity ladder.