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At Hot Air yesterday, Noah Rothman asked: “Will opposition to gay marriage disappear from the GOP’s party platform?” Rothman claims that only “vicious partisans” on either side of the aisle care about platforms. I don’t know about vicious, but he’s right to say the whole platform process is outdated.
In national election years, the candidate at the top of the ticket becomes the embodiment of the party platform. Who cares about the student government-like exercise of delegates voting on an official statement of principles? Its sole purpose has become putting a social issues face on the punching bag for media coverage. The prelude to convention coverage becomes a series of divisive stories about how Republicans continue to be out of touch with young voters and emerging trends (as defined by MSM reporters). I do so hate it when they’re right.
Rothman cites polls indicating that voter sentiment on same-sex marriage is trending away from the traditional view, even among Republicans in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Younger voters with strong views about personal freedom are clearly leading the charge. So why not cancel the scheduled media event of a party platform debate on SSM? Isn’t the convention mostly just a kick-off event for the fall campaign anyway? Won’t social issues be pushed enough by the liberal press without Republicans themselves initiating the blood-letting?
In the age before conventions were televised, party platforms had great meaning. You can look it up. In 1860, the Republican Party platform said, “we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.” Now that was a platform — and a winning one thanks to the standard bearer, Mr. Lincoln.
Today, the acceptance speech of the candidate on national television is the de facto party platform. Whichever candidate we choose will want to frame that speech and the issues in the most inspiring, elevating, and unifying terms.
I can’t see how an anti-SSM plank would help the candidate win in November. Wouldn’t dropping the entire platform-by-committee process help to avoid internal conflict, and brand Republicans as newly forward-focused in prioritizing important issues?