A personal note: I’ve been away from Peach Pundit for a while as a front page poster. I simply had more on my plate than I could handle. It’s a privilege to be back and whether you agree with me or not, I hope you find that what I write makes you think. – Ken
“God is in the details.” – Gustave Flaubert
There is a movement – and an upcoming resolution – within the Georgia Republican Party to establish a state party platform. The argument generally emphasizes the need for all of us to have the same understanding of where the Georgia Republican Party stands on issues. Once a platform is established, the argument continues, the easier it will be to recruit party members and candidates.
Unless writing a platform is done carefully, then I would argue the opposite.
At a time when the emphasis inside the GOP should be about unity, debating a platform from the ground up may lead to an emphasis on differences. Can you imagine a GOP platform without planks on right to life, a state fair tax to replace the state income tax, Georgia’s level of participation in common core, immigration reform and another dozen contentious issues? Can you imagine positions on these topics sailing through without lengthy and passionate discussion? Frankly, I cannot.
On right to life, will there be exceptions in the case of a risk to the life of the mother? What about rape? Incest? Underage rape victims?
Should an increased state sales tax decrease or replace a state corporate tax and then personal state income tax? Would it be a gradual phasing in or a total replacement? Would unprepared food staples be exempt from the tax?
Common core has some full and partial supporters within the GAGOP. Would the platform reject the entire concept or would it embrace standards as a comparison tool? Regarding immigration, I favor the Hard Work-Cleans Hand initiative that has already passed muster in the Texas GOP. Are metro Atlanta Republicans willing to accept the idea that agri-business in South Georgia needs a more nuanced approach to illegal migrant labor?
Then there is the idea of a biennial budget for Georgia. It’s a great idea, but do enough GOP party members think it rises to the level of inclusion in a platform? Will different groups push to include a plank defunding nominees who disagree with a particular (insert your least favorite) plank or position, thus turning a platform into a litmus test?
The list of topics I chose is the tip of the iceberg. The list could easily triple in size depending upon the wording – and that is the problem. Gustave Flaubert said, “God is in the details” and according to an anonymous soul, so is the Devil. Either way, we may have the Devil to pay.
A vaguely worded, and thus meaningless, platform accomplishes little other than to irritate those who feel passionately about specific issues. An overly specific platform that allows little leeway for candidates’ own beliefs is detrimental. There is a sweet spot in the middle in most cases but it will require cautious and exacting wordsmiths and something the Republican Party does not have in abundance: restraint.
A party platform can affect election outcomes in either a positive or a negative way. If a party platform is to attract more members and candidates then it should be written with that goal in mind. If a party platform is written in such a way that the wording is reflective of those who feel the most passionately about each issue then shouting, confusion and division will win the day and reason and political expertise will be forced into the shadows.
Before we Republicans embark upon the mission of writing a platform, someone must ask, “Do we really need to do this?” If the answer is affirmative then the next question must be, “What costs are we willing to bear?”
Discuss at will.