Putting the "Plat" in Platform


Pretty psyched up about the Republican Party Pledge to America, either pro or con? Well, remember this: The GOP platform of 2008, cobbled together as a Republican administration was neck-deep in a bailout season of its own creation, included this passage:

We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.

How'd that one work out?

The 2008 platform also asserted, as Jacob Sullum pointed out at the time, that "the Constitution assigns the federal government no role in local education," then later in the document offered

opinions on all manner of local educational issues, including the virtues of phonics, the evils of sex education, the wisdom of merit pay for teachers, and the folly of social promotion. […]

Far from shrinking the federal government, the Republicans want to enlarge it, providing "aid to those hurt by the housing crisis," solving "the energy crisis" (undeterred by the Carteresque connotations of that phrase), "expanding access to higher education," seeking "a major expansion of support" for certain kinds of stem cell research, even "returning Americans to the moon as a step toward a mission to Mars." The platform does not explain how these initiatives qualify as "legitimate constitutional functions."

The Republicans are committed to "continuing the fight against illegal drugs," even though that fight, unlike alcohol prohibition, was never authorized by a constitutional amendment. They want to impose national bans on gay marriage, human cloning, assisted suicide, and online gambling, even while declaring that "Congress must respect the limits imposed by the Tenth Amendment," which reserves to the states or the people "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution." Despite their eagerness to trample individual freedom in all these areas, Republicans claim "the other party wants more government control over people's lives," but "Republicans do not."

There's a reason why people mostly ignore political platforms, and will likely forget about this one, too: They're heavily lawyered political documents from parties most people dislike, and they bear at best a symbolic relationship to how their signatories will govern, particularly during times of stress. They lack even the human face and individual specificity that you get from candidate BSathons like this:

As for the document itself, I'm still waiting for a non-PDF version, but any response to the Continuing Crisis that doesn't involve specifics on entitlement or defense cuts seems to have successfully created symbolism of another kind: We know you're not serious about our unsustainable spending problem. Read Nick Gillespie's preview from yesterday for more.

For those who are serious about it, while desperately seeking a larf or two, subscribe now to our November 3-D issue: "How to Slash Government Before it Slashes You."