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Dorian de Wind Headshot

Mentions of 'God,' 'Troops,' 'Afghanistan' in Party Platforms and Conventions: Does it Matter?

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There was quite a commotion among Republicans when they discovered that the word "God" did not appear in the 2012 Democratic Party platform.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly jumped into the fray saying, that the omission of the word "God" in the Democratic platform proved that the party is "veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize."

Similarly, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, said that the absence of the word God in the platform was "rather peculiar" and "is not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision."

After the decisive, personal intervention by president Obama, the word "God" was included in the party's platform. This was followed by more Republican temper tantrums.

It was a different story, however, with respect to the Republican Party's platform. Although the Republican Party's nominee for president of the United States has stated that he is in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother, the Republican Party's platform does not include exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape, incest or for the health and life of the mother.

But unlike president Obama, the Republican nominee did not want, or did not have the authority, the standing or the conviction to have the necessary changes made in the Republican platform to reflect his (latest) position on this important issue.

But back to the "God issue."

God is a three-letter-word in English. In Spanish it is a four-letter word. It is spelled Dios and not at all pronounced as in the song "Vaya con Dios." One religion has 101 names for God. I understand that in Hinduism there can be literally millions of names for deities or supreme beings.

The Republican platform mentions God 12 times, but the word "God" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution.

I do not know how many times the word "God" appears in the Bible or the word "Allah" in the Koran -- I am sure many, many times -- nor do I know what the word for "God" is or how it is pronounced in the many religions and faiths around the world.

However, there is one thing I am absolutely sure of.

God does not care by what Name humans refer to Him.

God does not care how humans write or pronounce His Name.

God does not care how many times His Name appears on a piece of paper, whether it is a Holy Book, a nation's Constitution or a political party's platform.

What God cares about is how human beings treat, respect and take care of their fellow human beings, especially the most poor, most sick and most disadvantaged among us -- without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.

But since Republicans have decided to count words, the New York Times just happens to have kept track of how often speakers at both conventions used certain words and phrases based on an analysis of transcripts from the Federal News Service.

Some of the numbers are interesting.

Starting with the word "God," God-fearing Republicans mentioned "God" 95 times and those God-hating Democrats mentioned Him 86 times, or as the Times documents it, Republicans mentioned God 35 times per 25,000 words and Democrats mentioned God 22 times per 25,000 words.

After the entire hullabaloo, not much difference, is there?

Let us look at some other words (Number of mentions per 25,000 spoken words)

WORD OR PHRASE...............DEMOCRATS.......REPUBLICANS

Work, workers, jobs........................................167.......................135
Middle class......................................................47...........................7
Education..........................................................33.........................10
Community.......................................................11...........................4
Equal Pay...........................................................6...........................0
Level playing field..............................................2...........................0

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Women.......................................................69.......................26
Choice.........................................................22......................15
Values.........................................................22........................8
Vote............................................................29.......................11
Justice..........................................................6.........................4
Equality........................................................3.........................1
Fair, fairness, fair share.............................21........................1
Diversity.......................................................2........................0
Women's rights............................................2........................0

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Compromise, cooperation, work together.....6........................2

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Health, health care.........................................62.......................17
Medicare, Medicaid........................................28........................7
Health insurance...............................................4........................1

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Military, armed forces, troops, service
members........................................................20........................5
Veterans.........................................................16.........................2
Military families...............................................3.........................0
Iraq....................................................................9.........................3
Afghanistan.......................................................6.........................1

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Israel.................................................................7.........................1
Foreign policy, foreign relations,
diplomacy.........................................................3..........................1

The presence or absence of words, the frequency in which they are used may or may not reflect the character or views of the person, or party, using those words.

Republicans apparently believe that the absence of one word, "God," on a piece of paper denotes something sinister, heretical, "not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision."

Democrats can make similar inferences.

For example Democrats at their convention mentioned the words and phrases "military, armed forces, troops, service members, veterans, military families and Afghanistan" 45 times and Republicans -- at their convention -- mentioned those words only eight times per 25,000 words spoken (Above).

I find it interesting that Republicans, who have traditionally claimed to be the "support-the-troops," gung ho party, used those words so sparingly. There may have been acceptable reasons for this departure from tradition.

However, I was astonished to hear GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney answer Fox's Brett Baier question as to whether Romney regretted opening himself to criticism by not mentioning U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in his nomination acceptance speech.

Mr. Romney's answer:

I only regret you're repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don't go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president's decision to cut our military. And I didn't use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

The use of certain words may or may not matter, but explanations of why those words were or were not used certainly do matter.

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