When he was young, Vance Dean recalls that it was common for nearly everyone in the community to work on farms. But these days, the alternate Macon-area Republican National Convention delegate said, “There are some jobs people, unfortunately, won’t do.”
Stemming illegal immigration is a major plank in the 2016 GOP Platform approved Monday night.
But, as Dean and others realized as they reflected on the details of the 58-page document, there is plenty of work ahead.
For instance, Dean ardently supports the use of the temporary work visas that allow immigrants to stay in the country for a limited amount of time. Ideally, he says, they will then return home to their families.
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Alternate Delegate Bill Knowles noted that immigrants play a large role in Georgia’s agricultural economy. The current GOP platform, though, calls for the ever-infamous wall to be built along the Mexican border, and presidential nominee Donald Trump plans to kick all illegal immigrants out of the country.
Knowles said he recognizes that sending all illegal immigrants back to their native countries does have some caveats. The sheer scale may make it unfeasible, and it could break up families.
Still, delegate Jade Morey said, the real concern with immigration at the moment is security.
Dean said he thinks there is hope for the border wall, depending on the details like whether Trump literally envisions a brick and mortar wall or something like heavy surveillance.
Either way, he says, it won’t be implemented immediately, but he does believe that extensive planning and more details could make the wall a reality.
Trade is a more straightforward issue. Trump promises to put America first in international transactions. For Knowles, the notion means that America will get what it wants in trade negotiations. He sees America as taking a firm stance in any compromise.
“Instead of ‘This is what we can do for you, what can you do for us?’ it’s gonna be, ‘What can you do for us, and this is what we can do for you in return,’ ” he said.
Morey said she believes the key to putting America first is to incentivize doing business with American companies while simultaneously reducing corporate taxes and regulation. To her, it’s the best way to become competitive in an increasingly globalized world.
In a globalized economy, though, she said, “There does come a point where you may be enacting policies that are counterproductive to helping American companies and American workers.”
Dean said he sees some of the current policies as hurting Georgia farmers. He said he believes in a state with so much agriculture, less regulation and taxes on business would help the local economy to thrive.
The social side of the platform marked a divide between the younger and older Georgia delegation members. The GOP platform moved even farther right against the LGBTQ community, condemning multiple marriage rulings as the result of “an activist judiciary.”
Dean, 48, said he sees the GOP stance as common sense, not bigotry like many called it over this past year.
“I don’t see it as being anti-anything,” he said. “I see it as being pro-traditional values.”
Knowles, a 53-year-old Macon businessman, said he finds traditional values to be a personal responsibility, not something that can be enforced by laws.
“You try to work up from the family itself. There’s a lot of responsibility that’s been left by the wayside by churches, by local entities that should be stepping up,” he said.
Morey, though, said she thought the party was heading in a different direction, socially.
“You have to remember, the platform is controlled by a very small number of people who have been involved for a very long time and purposefully wanted to be on that committee,” said the 28-year-old Houston County woman.
Morey said she welcomes members of the LGBTQ community to the party.
“I promise that if you’re LGBT and you believe in limited government and getting rid of the deficit, you’re pro-military, pro-life, we want to talk to you,” she said.