Comparing the Texas Republican and Democratic Party Platforms

Click here for a downloadable, printable copy of this article, including the comparison table.

In 2002, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a letter to all Catholics regarding the responsibilities of Catholics in political life. He addressed his doctrinal note not only to the Catholic bishops around the world but especially to Catholic politicians and all lay members of the faithful.

He wrote, “Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in Political Life, 11/24/2002)

He further explains that it is  the “lay Catholic’s duty to be morally coherent, found within one’s conscience, which is one and indivisible. ‘There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called ‘spiritual life’, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social responsibilities, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.’”

What are these “non-negotiable ethical principles” and “fundamental and inalienable ethical demands” according to Pope Benedict XVI:

  • Abortion
  • Euthanasia
  • Protecting the human embryo
  • Family is based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman
  • Freedom of parents to educate their children
  • Freedom from modern forms of slavery
  • Right to religious freedom
  • Development of an economy at the service of the human person and the common good
  • Peace and the rejection of violence and terrorism

Within the framework of these Catholic “non-negotiable ethical principles”, let us compare the 2012 Political Platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties of the state of Texas.

Forgoing the high sounding preambles of both state parties, let us compare side by side the social and moral principles as espoused by the political leaders of the Texas state parties:

Principles Republican Party of Texas1 Democratic Party
of Texas2
Protecting Life “Sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death” “We believe … [in] the right to privacy … in  freedom from
government  interference in our private lives and personal decisions”; recognize that the product of a joined egg and sperm has no independent status, standing, entitlements, or rights”
Marriage “We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society”; “We believe in the sanctity of marriage.” “[R]epeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Texas Defense of Marriage Act … oppose other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to same sex couples”; “We, along with our President and Vice- President, recognize that same sex marriages should be valid and legal in America.”
Religious Freedom “[A]merica is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principle”; “return to the original intent of the First Amendment”; “[E]ncourage legislation …hospitals and clinics to inform all health care personnel of their right to refuse  to become involved in abortion and euthanasia” “We also recognize that no Texan should be forced to live under religious doctrines to which he or she does not subscribe”
Law Enforcement
Public Safety
“The state of Texas has the right to protect… citizens, businesses, and ranches”; “Properly applied capital punishment is legitimate” “Ending racial profiling in searches and traffic stops”; “support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana”; “abolish the death penalty in Texas”; “defeat restrictive voter ID and proof of citizenship legislation”
Homosexuality “Homosexual behavior is contrary to the
fundamental, unchanging truths that havebeen ordained by God”
“Democrat support: actions against all forms of discrimination”; the full inclusion of all families”; “We support the Dignity for All Students Act”; We support adoption… regardless of …sexual orientation, gender identity”
Pornography/
Free Speech
“We encourage the enforcement of laws regarding all forms of pornography … detrimental to the fabric of society”; “We oppose … the ‘fairness doctrine’” “[P]rotection of free speech, including on the internet”; “rejection of ideological censorship of public libraries and textbooks”; “reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine
Roe V. Wade “We are resolute regarding the reversal of Roe v. Wade”; “We support the Life at Conception Act” “[T]rust the women of Texas to make personal and responsible decisions about when and whether to bear children … “
Public Funding
of abortion
“We  strongly 0ppose any federal or state require-ment or other mandate to provide abortions or contraception and sterilization”; “We support the elimination of public funding for organizations that advocate or support abortion” “Democrats support the legislation’s (Obamacare)
elimination of co-payments for preventive services”; “programs include family planning and birth control including emergency contraception”
Euthanasia “We are opposed to genocide, euthanasia and assisted suicide …withholding of nutrition and hydration to the terminally ill or handicapped” No statement
Stem Cell
Research
“We oppose … the creation and/or killing of human embryos for medical research” “Texas Democrats strongly and unconditionally support research into stem cell and state funding for research”
Human Cloning “Each human life … deserves protection”; “Weseek a ban on human cloning for reproductive purposes  … on research cloning” No statement
Parental Rights/ Education “Parents have the right and responsibility
to direct and guide their children’s moraleducation”; “The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct …”
“Texas Democrats believe a world class education system is a moral imperative … that requires parents, educators, and community leaders to work together”; “We support a Children’s Bill of Rights”
Welfare “Welfare should offer a hand up to transition families and individuals through hard times”; “The current system encourages dependency on government and robs individuals and generations of healthy motivation and self-respect” “More than one-third of working families in Texas are defined as ‘low income,’… We believe government should make sure appropriate supports are in place and accessible…”
Health Care “We urge the passage of health care reform which results in more affordable health care … including tort reform”; “We urge the immediate repeal of the PPACA (‘Obamacare’)” “Texas Democrats believe health care is a right … oppose Republican attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare); “support the right of a woman to acquire contraception or other reproductive through her health care provider”
Sex Education “We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage” “Support … effective, comprehensive age-appropriate sex education programs”
School Choice “Encourage … maximum freedom of choice in
public, private, or parochial education for all”
“Oppose private school vouchers in all forms”; “strengthen state oversight of homeschools”
Sources:  12012 Texas Republican Party Platform    (http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/2012-Platform-Final.pdf?docID=3201)
                 22012 Texas Democratic Party Platform   (http://txdemocrats.org/2012/platform.pdf)

It appears clear that when comparing the political platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties in Texas, though neither party’s platform is perfectly aligned with Catholic moral principles, the Republican Party platform in Texas is significantly more closely aligned with Catholic moral principles than the Democratic Party and it behooves all Catholic voters to seriously consider Pope Benedict XVI’s instruction and vote with an informed conscience according to the doctrines of the Church. If we do not, then we are materially cooperating with evil when we vote for political candidates and their party that undertake particular political programs and policies that are directly opposed to Catholic moral principles.

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in the Gospel of Life, one of his most highly acclaimed encyclicals, that when we vote with full knowledge for politicians whose executive and legislative actions promote, support, and advance the cause of legalized abortion and other intrinsic moral evils, we share as voters in the immoral intention of the person (the abortionist and the politician) committing the act against innocent human life:

“Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law…Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it.”  (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, No. 74)

About Phil Sevilla

Mr. Sevilla, prior to assuming the role of President of the Texas Leadership Coalition was the President of Catholic Coalition of New Mexico, a non-profit Catholic advocacy organization and Executive Director for Project Defending Life, a Catholic pro-life ministry in Albuquerque, NM. He held managerial and staff positions serving technology companies in Silicon Valley and Fortune 100 corporations for over twenty years.


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