Policy & Platforms
In the 2012 election, each candidate’s policy stance could be broken down into three major categories: social, economic, and foreign policy.
Here is how President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney matched up on each topic:
Socially, President Obama sought to preserve funding for family planning and women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood. In May 2012, President Obama offered his support of gay marriage, and the Democratic Party added marriage equality to their party platform. This represents the first time a major party endorsed same-sex marriage (and in 2015, the Supreme Court required marriage equality in all states). President Obama also supported his signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.” In contrast, Republican nominee Governor Mitt Romney vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office, embracing a key component of the Republican platform, which aims to abolish the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Governor Romney wanted to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood and similar organizations and has stated that the legality of abortion is best left to each individual state. In late August 2012, the Republican Party adopted platform language calling for a constitutional ban on abortions. Governor Romney believed marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples (as did the Democratic Party through 2008); however, he supported civil unions that would provide the benefits enjoyed by married couples to same-sex partners.
Economically, President Obama believed government spending can stimulate the economy. The president would also spread the tax burden more evenly across income brackets by closing loopholes and raising taxes on the wealthy, while continuing efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Conversely, Governor Romney supported tax breaks for all citizens and businesses while reducing the size of government. He also expressed a desire to boost America’s economy by creating new trade agreements that will remove what he perceives as barriers to American dominance in certain markets, particularly China.
In terms of national security and foreign policy, President Obama sought to build upon his efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since removing the vast majority of American forces from Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden, he committed to a deadline for the conclusion of America’s military commitment in Afghanistan. The administration has also imposed harsh sanctions on Iran in an effort to prevent them from continuing their pursuit of nuclear weapons, but signed a historic nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. On many of these topics, Governor Romney agreed with the current president; he also emphasized a desire to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in a timely fashion.
Presidential Adherence to Platforms
Despite the popular notion that presidential candidates make grandiose promises during their campaigns, only to abandon them once in office, studies have shown that most presidents do attempt to act on the goals outlined in their platforms with varying degrees of success due to a number of factors. First, Congress can delay or vote against proposed bills and block portions of the administration’s agenda for political reasons. In other cases, Congress may force a compromise with the president, which may push him to omit portions of a plan in order to pass a number of his other policies.