The Platform, Transformed?

June 17, 2020

To some Republicans, the party platform is "nothing but trouble." But take it away, and I guarantee: conservatives will find out exactly how much it matters.

Bill Gribbins is an expert on the tradition. He helped write the 2016 version for the GOP in Cleveland, so he has a definite opinion about its place in the political process. And that place, he argues in the Wall Street Journal, is not on a 5x7 card. He's heard the rumblings about an overhaul of the party document, but -- like a lot of us -- knows that shorter isn't necessarily better. "White House senior adviser Jared Kushner wanted the platform replaced by a statement of principles..." he explained. "The proposal was thwarted, thankfully; the party can have both lovely principles and detailed policy."

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) agrees. As someone who's been intimately involved in the process, he knows what a mistake it would be to water down 58 pages of views and values. "The platform," he told listeners on "Washington Watch" is the one vehicle that defines "who we are as a party, what we stand for." It's the one way, he insists, of holding Republicans and elected officials accountable. "If you get outside those lanes," he says, "this is the tool" to bring you back in bounds -- or that voters can use to find someone else to run.

These are the issues, Rep. Roy reminds everyone, that we care "passionately about-- whether they're fiscal conservative issues, or whether they're national security issues, or important social conservative issues. We want to make sure those issues are reflected in a platform so that everybody knows what we expect out of our leaders."

And, as I know from being a delegate to the platform committee, it's a very representative process. Every state has two delegates, who are a part of crafting that platform. So it's very reflective of where Republican voters are on important debates across the nation. The end product is, as Congressman Roy said, a guiding document. So much so, in fact, that Lee Payne, an associate professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, did an in-depth study that concluded that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers voted with their platforms 82 percent of the time. In other words, this isn't just about vision casting -- it's a way to hold people accountable.

This is why we painstakingly go through the process, Chip explained, because it's important to provide the guardrails for the party. With the country imploding from the streets to the courts, we need that vision more than ever. Not just for the party, but for the president and all of us who care about America going forward.