Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Standing Up for US Exceptionalism in Cleveland

The first line in the Republican platform adopted at the Convention this week sums up the party's position on US human rights:  "We believe in American Exceptionalism." 

In this explicitly partisan document, human rights is a standard for other countries.  For other countries, the Republican platform promises a "'whole of government' approach to protect fundamental freedoms globally, one where pressing human rights and rule of law issues are integrated at every appropriate level of our bilateral relationships and strategic decisionmaking."

On the domestic front, however, human rights is not a concern.  Perhaps that's because, again, "[w]e believe that American exceptionalism — the notion that our ideas and principles as a nation give us a unique place of moral leadership in the world — requires the United States to retake its natural position as leader of the free world."

Moral leadership does not, apparently, require that the US serve as a global model for domestic implementation of human rights, striving alongside other countries.  We are exceptional.  So, according to the Platform, "[w]e do not support the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, as well as various declarations from the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development."  Further, Presidential executive agreements that might address some of these issues must be nullified.  

Under the Republican platform, marriage is only for a man and a woman.  Obamacare must be repealed, and women shielded from full equality in military institutions. 

And immigration is for those who are already here, or who can buy their way in.  According to the Platform, "[t]hat is why we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry.  The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic."  

This is an exceptional document, for sure, but hardly one that sets up the US as a global moral leader. 

For a terrific perspective on the importance of exceptionalism to Americans on both sides of the aisle, see this blog by Hilde Restad at the LSE.

Next week in Philadelphia, we look forward to seeing how the Democratic Party Platform measures up from a US human rights perspective.




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