I go to some 25 major league baseball games a year — I’d attend more if I could. When I’m there I, like, watch the game. Every pitch. Most people, it seems, are there for everything but the game. With a 3-2 count on two outs and a runner in scoring position in a tie game — that’s when a pair of dingbats will decide to go for a hot dog and make a whole row in front of me stand up. Grrrr.
And while I read five newspapers a day, I tune out the conventions at this time every four years. This week’s Republican and next week’s Democratic conventions are like the distractions during a baseball game designed to keep fans entertained. Conventions, because their outcomes become known weeks or months earlier, remind me of the dance cams, presidents’ races, boxing pierogis, and fan quizzes. Fun but not the real game.
So, rather than listen to television this week, I’m reading the platforms. They offer at least a semblance of what the parties think and might do.
Today, a bit about the Republican platform. I found a couple of versions online. The shorter one has a section entitled, Reforming the Government. It has 16 subsections. I looked at Modernizing the Federal Civil Service. It consists of three paragraphs. The GOP calls for a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce through attrition. It states, “We must bring the 130-year-old Civil Service System into the 21st century,” but doesn’t say how. It calls for a pay system “sufficiently flexible to acknowledge and reward those who innovate, reduce overhead, optimize processes, and expedite paperwork.” That could mean anything.
Nor is there much detail in the plan on Postal Reform, other than that USPS requires “dramatic restructuring.”
The full version of the platform has a bit more detail. It doesn’t call for wholesale firing of federal employees but rather says the party “reaffirm[s] the existing protections that provide all employees of the federal government the opportunity to pursue their desire to serve their country free from discrimination.” The platform does include special praise for whistleblowers while calling the difficulty of firing bad apples an “affront” to the good people.
Republicans propose letting bargaining unit employees opt out of union membership and the dues it entails. It also calls for an end to “official time,” union work on government time.
A special paragraph on the IRS, while acknowledging the “many good civil servants” there, excoriates the agency for employing tax dodgers and discriminating against conservative nonprofit groups. And it calls for impeachment of the commissioner, without using the name, John Koskinen.
So, no, Republicans don’t declare war on the federal workforce, as some outlets have presumed. But — spoiler alert — the GOP does have a somewhat different worldview than that of the Democrats. More on that one next week, when I won’t be watching that one either.