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Republican Platform: No change

The most interesting part of this is that the Trump campaign had tried to move to a simpler, more streamlined platform, which is something I'm broadly in favor of for the Democratic Party.

"Party officials and senior Trump campaign aides had previously discussed ways to pare down the 58-page document to a single note card or abbreviated list of principles, but the effort broke down after several conservative groups registered complaints with the White House....

"Ken Blackwell, a prominent conservative leader who sits on the Trump campaign’s advisory board, used an appearance on Perkins’ radio show to send a blunt warning.

"“The bottom line: We cannot afford to think of the platform as something that is just a marketing instrument that you can get and put in your vest pocket on a 5-by-3, 8-by-5 card. You just can’t do it,” Blackwell had said. “While I think the president is well positioned, it is not a slam dunk, and we cannot afford to, in fact, weaken the enthusiasm that people have built up over the last four years.”

"Grassroots conservatives view the platform as a mechanism for accountability and worried that eliminating its explicit language on social issues would open the door for Republican candidates to be deliberately vague on key issues. Among their concerns was that mentions of abortion — which comes up 35 times in the 2016 version — would be reduced.

"“The full platform is still essential for guiding policy, holding legislators accountable, and for distinguishing policy differences between Republicans and Democrats,” the Eagle Forum had written in its Monday letter to Trump and McDaniels. “We respectfully request that all efforts to streamline the overall platform, which has been forged over more than a century of committed grassroots activism, be resisted.”"

I don't know how things work in the GOP, but as far as CADEM is concerned, I'm generally inclined to think that the extreme detail in our platform makes it less useful as a tool for accountability, not more useful. I could see a consensus platform being extremely powerful, because someone who goes against the platform would be going against the consensus. When the platform weighs in on divisive issues, though, that increases the number of people within the party who disagree with it, which makes it harder to enforce.

For example, let's say that 99% of CADEM agrees that the "Frisco" is a terrible nickname for the city of San Francisco and that anyone who uses it should be socially ostracized. If some disagreeable state legislator starts going around talking about "Frisco", the overwhelming consensus would be that they should be drummed out of the party.

On the other hand, if 52% of the party thinks that "San Fran" is a dumb nickname, but 39% think it's perfectly fine, then it's not practical to expel the 39% that disagree with the slim majority. Sure enough, it's extremely unusual to see any kind of disciplinary action for people going against the party platform. That means that a lot of people continue to say "San Fran", but it also allows a small number of people to get away with saying "Frisco", because there aren't any other mechanisms for enforcing it.

The worst case scenario, of course, is one in which the platform gets pared down, and then even the streamlined consensus platform doesn't get enforced. That would give you the worst of both worlds, and is the most likely outcome of trying to streamline the platform. But it would be great if we could turn the platform into an actual enforceable consensus.

Marshall Lewis, June 12