As some readers here are aware, I’ve been very involved in the Republican Party here in Texas and am a past and current delegate to the state party convention. I’ve also been an outspoken critic of past Texas Republican Party platforms which have drifted from a core message of economic and personal liberty and become a hodgepodge of overly specific planks pandering to special interest groups.
The process is fundamentally broken, but this year I have been making an effort to engage with the committee before they produce another terrible platform, both directly and through intermediaries and through writing about and publicizing my efforts and those of others who share my concerns. My hope is that this year things may change and it won’t be necessary to write more scathing articles about another embarrassing platform.
The platform committee is meeting in Fort Worth this week and in response to reports that they were planning to add even more planks to the already cumbersome platform and not edit out the many problem sections, I wrote this appeal to their better instincts with some strong general suggestions.
We’ll see if they listen.
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Dear Members of the RPT Platform Committee:
Initial reports from your meetings suggest that the procedure being followed by the committee is to use the 2010 platform as a starting point and add new resolutions received this year as additional planks to the platform without significantly editing or trimming the content significantly. I do not believe that this will produce a platform which reflects well on the Republican Party of Texas or performs the basic function of expressing the common beliefs of party members. Nor will it result in a platform on which our candidates can effectively run for office. If you are serious about producing a platform the party can be proud of you must also find this process to be inadequate.
The 2010 platform was the target of derision and harsh criticism from within the party, from our political opponents and from the media. It became a national laughingstock for several months after it was made public. It contained so many different and sometimes contradictory positions on so many specialized issues that it was impossible for any candidate to run on honestly or for any Republican to fully embrace as reprsenting their beliefs. It was a cumbersome monstrosity produced solely to satisfy the demands of vocal special interest groups without regard for the best interests of the party and the beliefs of the general membership.
Something is very wrong with the process when delegates are receiving robocalls about the platform from powerful interest groups, like the one I received this morning. That group and its powerful opponents as well as other similar groups should have no voice in the platform. It should be an expression of the authentic beliefs and interests of the party membership.
If our platform is to be truly republican in character it should represent strongly held, shared beliefs and not exclude any group or give any group special consideration above others. It should be a document of universal values which any Republican can understand easily, agtee with and proudly support. It should not be overly take positions on overly specific, controversial issues which are not central to the beliefs of the Republican party. Until relatively recently Texas Republican Party platforms followed this model. Through the 1960s and early 1970s they were limited to a short general preamble and no more than a dozen specific platform planks. That is the model which we should be following.
I realize that cutting the current platform back to that kind of simple, universal document is probably infeasible, but I believe that there are three simple steps which could be taken to clarify, simplify and broaden the platform easily.
1. Remove all endorsements of policies in which government would interfere with private businesses, organizations or institutions, either to dictate policy or subsidize their operation, with the exception of reasonable regulations clearly related to public safety. Our nation’s prosperity depends on reducing government interference in the private sector and allowing growth and innovation in the private sector.
2. Remove all statements supporting a government role in defining social policy or interfering with personal liberty in speech, association, movement or religion. I would further recommend striking all specific references to homosexuality or sexual acts from the platform. The Republican party was founded on championing the rights of all people and should not abandon that tradition to support special treatment for any group.
3. Remove all statements on foreign policy relating to specific nations and limit the section on foreign policy to an endorsement of free trade and a strong but restrained national defense on the model of the Reagan administration. This is the platform of a state party, not the national party and excessive specificity on foreign policy is out of place.
If these filters were applied to the prior content from the 2010 platform and to any new resolutions, the resulting platform would be of reasonable length, represent ideas which almost no Republicans could object to, and present a much more positive image of the party to the general public and to potential future party members. It would be a platform which all Republicans in Texas can be proud of and on which the party can grow and become stronger.
These changes will also help avoid lengthy modifications of the platform from the floor of the convention and the very real possibility of the passage of an alternative platform from the floor, making all your hard work wasted.
I appreciate the hard work you are doing on the platform and I hope you will take these suggestions to heart.
Thanks for your attention,
Precinct Chairman, Travis County Precinct 105
Executive Directory, Texas Liberty Foundation