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Democratic, Republican platforms miles apart

The party platforms for Democrats and Republicans, finalized ahead of their respective conventions last month, reflect the stark divide between the parties, on both foreign affairs and domestic social issues.

The platforms, officially adopted during the conventions, are road maps of what a party wants to achieve in the next four years, offering a glimpse of what a party wants to accomplish if its nominee makes it to the White House. But they often receive little attention from the public.

Here’s a rundown of where the parties land on key topics.

Climate change

Democrats describe climate change as a "real and urgent threat," and they call for setting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The platform calls for the country to generate half of its electricity from clean sources in the next decade and for cleaner transportation fuels, more public transit and a tax code that creates incentives for renewable energy. The platform also beats back suggestions that protecting the environment would be bad for business.

Republicans say "climate change is far from this nation's most pressing national security issue," as Democrats have labeled it. They oppose international accords such as the agreement crafted in Paris last year that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the climb in global temperatures. Environmental problems are best solved with "incentives for human ingenuity … not through top-down, command-and-control regulations," the platform says.


Democrats support the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., "if vigorously enforced and implemented." They also say the country should "not hesitate to take military action if Iran violates the agreement." The deal, struck last year, aims to curtail Iran's nuclear capability in exchange for lifting debilitating economic sanctions.

Republicans have staunchly opposed the accord as dangerously enabling a longtime adversary; a GOP-led effort to block the deal in Congress failed. The GOP platform rejects the Iran nuclear deal and states flatly, "A Republican president will not be bound by it." The party vows to "retain all options" in dealing with Iran.

Islamic State

Democrats call for congressional authorization of military action "that does not involve large-scale combat deployment of American troops." Their vice-presidential candidate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, has been a leading proponent for new legislation to govern combat operations against the Islamic State. The platform also rejects "Donald Trump's vilification of Muslims," saying it "feeds into ISIS' nefarious narrative." Among Trump's most divisive proposals has been his call for a ban on Muslims trying to enter the U.S.

Republicans call the Islamic State a form of "murderous fanaticism" and support continued partnership with Iraqis to eradicate the terrorist group from the region, where it holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria. In addition to "pushing back its fighters," the GOP calls for aiding victims of the Islamic State. They support creating a safe haven in northern Iraq to protect ethnic and religious minorities targeted by the group.

Gay rights

Democrats "applaud" the Supreme Court decision last summer allowing Americans to "marry the person they love." They call for more steps to fight discrimination against LGBT people, including new federal laws. "LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school; restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people, and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes," the platform says. "That is unacceptable and must change."

Republicans denounce the court's marriage decision. Their platform supports religious liberty laws that allow businesses the right to refuse services that violate their faith, such as baking a cake for a same-sex wedding. It also says efforts to allow transgender people to use bathrooms that conform with their gender identity, instead of biological sex, are "illegal, dangerous and (ignorant of) privacy issues."

Health care

Democrats believe that "health care is a right, not a privilege," and they support President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. They vow to "keep fighting" to ensure more states expand government coverage for low-income people. New steps are urged to reduce costs, and they want to make government-run insurance like Medicare available to more people.

Republicans vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Congressional Republican have held dozens of unsuccessful votes to roll back the legislation. In its place, they want to "simplify the system" to increase health care options and reduce costs. The platform calls for allowing consumers to shop for insurance across state lines. It promotes modernizing Medicare and transforming Medicaid into block grants that give states flexibility in how the money is spent.


Democrats want to protect access to "safe and legal abortion," and their platform says "every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services." For the first time, Democrats are including in their platform the controversial goal of overturning the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has banned the use of federal money for abortion. In addition, the platform says "we will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers."

Republicans crafted a platform that is unambiguously anti-abortion in all cases. It seeks to stop the collection of fetal issue, which is used in medical research, and calls for defunding Planned Parenthood. The GOP also supports codifying the Hyde Amendment. The anti-abortion stance departs from the views of the GOP nominee. Trump, who describes himself as anti-abortion after previously supporting abortion rights, said he backs blocking access to the procedure except in cases of rape, incest or when a mother's life is at risk.

Minimum wage

Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it with inflation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Republicans say minimum wage is "an issue that should be handled on the state and local level."