X Close

GOP’s new party platform divides the Right

There's tension between populist and conservative principles. Credit: Getty

July 10, 2024 - 9:00pm

The Republican Party’s updated platform has adopted a suite of populist policies, exacerbating divisions on the Right.

The document, dedicated to “the forgotten men and women of America”, distances the GOP from its longtime allies, religious and social conservatives, and solidifies the party’s rejection of foreign policy hawkishness. While some on the Left are portraying the platform as the final step in solidifying Trump’s control of the party, conservatives are deeply divided on the new creed.

For the first time in 40 years, the Republican platform did not mention support for a national abortion ban. Instead, it stated opposition to “late-term” abortions, which constitute about 7% of total abortions, and otherwise left the issue up to the states. This omission, among other issues, has exposed a rift on the New Right not only on policy positions but on the virtue of political compromises.

Former vice president Mike Pence called the move “a profound disappointment’, while Senators J.D. Vance and Marco Rubio, two favourites to become Trump’s next vice president, have come out in support of the party’s softened stance on abortion. Sohrab Ahmari, a conservative commentator who opposes abortion but supports the new platform, came under criticism after arguing that “politics is the art of the possible”, and that a strategic retreat on abortion was a practical move. Conservative legal scholar Adrian Vermuele, who, like Ahmari, is a prominent member of the post-liberal Right, publicly disagreed. “Higher politics is the art of changing what is politically possible”, he wrote, “the reshaping of the political constraints themselves.”

Abortion was not the only issue that angered social conservatives. Mentions of God were reduced from 15 times in 2016 to twice in 2024, and marriage was mentioned once in 2024 compared to 19 times in 2016. Language defining marriage as between a man and a woman was dropped, a move opposed by social conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley. The issue remains incredibly divisive in the GOP, with only 38 House Republicans voting for legislation formally recognising same-sex marriage in late 2022.

The new platform says conspicuously little about foreign policy, making no mention of Ukraine, Russia or Nato, and only one mention of Israel, compared to 19 mentions of the Jewish state in its 2016 platform. Instead, it focuses on promoting peace in both Europe and the Middle East and encouraging American allies to bolster their own military defences. This change cements a longstanding drift in the GOP away from foreign policy interventionism and toward what this platform labels “America First” foreign policy.

In doing so, it further isolates the party’s hawks, who increasingly find themselves on the party’s fringes. Nikki Haley, for instance, wasn’t invited to the upcoming Republican National Convention, nor were Mitt Romney or Liz Cheney. Despite the isolationist tone of the party’s new official platform, there remains a strong contingent of Congressional Republicans who support further American aid for foreign conflicts, including Ukraine.

The 2024 platform also softens its language in support of gun rights, making it more palatable to moderates, and calls for an end to the taxation of tips, an easy political win for Trump’s increasingly working class base.

The Republican National Convention will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 15-18 June, with an expected 50,000 in attendance. The party’s delegates will nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates, formalising Trump’s candidacy and his role as leader of the party. Rubio, a vice presidential frontrunner, recently told CNN’s Dana Bash, “Our platform has to reflect our nominee, and our nominee’s position happens to be one grounded in reality.”


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.

laureldugg

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

10 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
14 days ago

Big nothing burger.

T Bone
T Bone
14 days ago

So divisive!! You cant just abandon performative cliches for policy positions with 80% approval rates. That is so Anti-Democratic!

Unless you’re alienating, you’re dividing!

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
14 days ago

Trump will be the great divider, surprise surprise

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
14 days ago

This is how political re-alignment works.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
14 days ago

If he wasn’t such an ass, Trump might be a good president.

David Yetter
David Yetter
14 days ago

In terms of what was actually done during his first term, he was a reasonably good president. His one serious policy misstep was slavishly following Fauci, rather than allowing debate with the ideas of the Great Barrington declaration. We could have followed Sweden (where by some odd happenstance I am on holiday) and not wrecked our economy and blighted our children’s education, but no…
But he is as you say, an ass, and like both of his opponents a wannabe Caesar.

John Galt
John Galt
14 days ago

It is truly amazing the more either side campaigns the less popular they become. It’s truly a paradox.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
14 days ago

When the GOP is following on from 4 years of Biden’s hysteria and damage, then undoing the top 10 crazy things that the Dems did is all you need to talk about. Start with restoring appropriate punishment for crime, fair elections, a secure border, ending wars, a sound military and a return to transparent Constitutional government.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
14 days ago

Ok, the foreign policy area has a lot of division, but there is no serious disagreement anywhere else, sure abortion sorta but not really as hardline pro-lifers will not hesitate to support Trump and the party down the road.

0 01
0 01
7 days ago

There is a world of difference between what politicians say and what they do, never take anything they say at face value. Trump is notorious for this and is rarely ever consistent or coherent even knows what he wants beyond his ego needs let alone cares, it a feature not a bug with with him. The same can be said about Biden to a certain extent. Both of them are snakes and American is the Hens egg they lust for.