Comparing the Democrat and Republican Platforms on Military Issues


Wesley Smith

July 26, 2016

4 min read

National Security



The release of both the Democrat and Republican parties’ platforms is thought-provoking. This post notes the similarities and differences of the respective platforms when it comes to the issue of support for the military and national security.  For example, both platforms strongly support Veterans and their care.  Bipartisan support for the men and women who have served our country is encouraging and laudable.  

Both parties call for the defeat of ISIS, though both platforms lack detail as to how this might be accomplished. 

We have no doubt that the members of both the RNC and DNC Platform Committees are patriotic Americans who desire what they deem is best for their country.  The thoughtfulness that went into each party’s work on military affairs is undeniable.

However, though the two platforms have some similarities, the differences between the two parties when it comes to the military, terrorism, and national security are clear and telling.  For example:

The Republican Platform states that the current Commander-in-Chief has weakened the military.
The Democrat Platform states that we have the strongest military in the world.
(Editor’s note:  While troop strength is not the only barometer of military power, we actually have the smallest Army and Navy since 1940.)

The Republican Party Platform calls for rebuilding our military in terms of the budget, troop strength and weapons, including our strategic forces.
The Democrat Party Platform calls for an “agile and flexible” military force. (Note: this is political code for a smaller force.  Under the present plan, the military is well on the way to meeting the administration’s goal of reducing the active Army to 450,000 by 2018. If sequestration is not resolved, that number drops to 417,000.)

The Republicans call for an end to a “budget-based military strategy.” In other words they want to use national defense and the existing threat landscape to determine the dollars needed, rather than rely on an arbitrary dollar figure in the federal budget.
The Democrats want a “smart, predictable” budget and call for auditing the Pentagon’s finances.

The Republican Committee states the party is committed to end the caps on the “Defense Budget.”
The Democrat Committee blames the Republicans for the caps due to sequestration which came about when the GOP controlled Congress, while the Democrats controlled the White House.

The Republicans state that women should not be in combat “Military Occupational Specialties” (MOS) or combat roles.
The Democrats state their support of women in combat specialties and roles.

The Republicans call for an end to the “Iran Nuclear Deal”.
The Democrats applaud the Iran Deal and claim that it prohibits Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, even though much of the text of the agreement remains secret.

The Republicans call for a pay raise for military personnel.
The Democrat Platform does not mention this issue.

The Republican Platform calls for defeating ISIS but does not mention support for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
The Democrat Platform calls for a new AUMF but states that it should include a prohibition of using large U.S. ground forces to accomplish this.

Finally, the Democrat Party platform states “Climate change poses an urgent and severe threat to our national security . . . climate change is a threat multiplier.”
The Republican Platform does not address “Climate Change” in the context of national security.

As always, the ACLJ does not endorse candidates nor do we tell people how to vote.  We do want all voters to have as much information as possible so that voters can make informed decisions.  For those who believe that national security and support of our military is important, we hope that you find this information helpful.