Party platforms are the distilled forms of a party’s essence. They are a repository where the various factions of a political party can feel a little love, a small measure of reassurance that they and their typically narrow causes are appreciated.
Just ahead of the Republicans’ convention in Tampa at the end of August, the offensive remarks of a Missouri Republican running for the U.S. Senate brought the GOP platform to the fore. The firestorm over Todd Akin’s distinction of “legitimate rape” led to examination of the Republican Party’s platform, which calls for outlawing abortion regardless of the usual exceptions of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is endangered.
Knowing such an unbending stance turns off swing voters, the Mitt Romney campaign made it known that the presidential candidate’s opposition to abortion was more nuanced, and he was not obligated to follow the dictates of the platform.
That’s a mere trifle compared to the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas. It took the bold stance of opposing the teaching of “critical thinking skills” in public schools. When the section became a controversy, party officials acknowledged it was an “oversight.” You think?
Democrats gathered for their convention in Charlotte dealt with a platform flare-up of their own this week. The platform failed to make mention of the Almighty. Republicans quickly used this as an opportunity to return fire to Democrats who had made hay over Romney’s back-tracking on abortion. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan described the Democrats’ omission as “these purges of God.” For the record, Democrats hastily and somewhat controversially made a divine reversal by adding God to their platform.
Here’s a warning. Partisans wishing to create a ruckus over either party platform had better hurry. Only a few days are left until these platforms return to the subterranean crypts where they will sit undisturbed for the next four years.