The Republican State Convention is this Saturday. Not until Wednesday night at approximately 9:22 PM did Scott County delegates and alternates with e-mail addresses receive the text of the proposed 2014 rules and platform. It was in a corrupted format PDF that some may not have been able to open anyway. Regardless, at that hour many or most delegates and alternates would not have observed or opened the e-mail until the next day.
The dissemination of the convention documents we believe are later this year than any previous convention in memory. This sequential alternate delegate, #101 of 104, did not receive an official paper copy of the proposed rules and platform until the afternoon mail delivery today, Friday. Did we mention that the state convention is tomorrow? Many or most would not have a chance to review the documents or any opportunity to discuss the proposals prior to the convention.
Those circumstances are reason enough that delegates should reject the proposed platform out of a responsibility to exercise due diligence and not succumb to a rush to judgement when there is no need to do so. Instead it should be simple enough to agree to reinstate the 2012 platform as it has received a more timely presentation and traditional vetting.
But there are more reasons to reject the proposed platform. It is a total rewrite without appropriate warrant or warning. It guts the previous platform, it violates the traditions and process of incorporation of still current planks with new planks edited and tweaked as appropriate. It shows no deference to the priorities of caucus attendees, and the work of delegates to county and district conventions.
What we are presented with is a high handed eleventh hour effort that relies on the dynamics of meetings and the burdensomness of parliamentary procedures to thwart objectors. We believe the Platform Committee has dishonored the grassroots nature, the grassroots responsiveness and the uniqueness of Iowa’s caucus system. Perhaps it was in order to pretend to develop a platform that will obviate future platform discussions on the theory the existing one is so encompassing with its generalities and platitudes that everything is covered.
Their platform ideology seems to be that there will be no need to bring anything specific up in the future. . . “our principles cover everything important.” Responsiveness to grass roots flesh and blood concerns, specifications and prioritizations and timeliness will be pushed aside in favor of generalities and blandishments in the state platform.
Of course principles are important but providing an authentic outlet for flesh and blood applications, consistent with those principles should be our obligation as well.
The proposed platform approach damages the justifications for the deference given to Iowa’s caucus system and the special treatment it receives in the presidential electoral process. The platform development aspect is what lends credence to the caucus system. If the platform is marginalized, as the proposed concept surely does, the straw poll that obtains to the precinct caucus deliberations could be easily replaced by a primary ballot, in which case we would be in the mix with all the other states.
We believe much of the motivation for gutting the platform also comes from those who want certain issues marginalized, or obscured. Removing specification dims the light on the apostasies they are content with or actually support.
Who provided the mandate to throw out all the issues identified in previous platforms, to gut the process, to reduce it so drastically? Similar constructs to the proposed platform were rejected by the great majority of counties and by district conventions leading up to the state convention. The great majority honored the traditional system.
The proposed platform is all too compatible with allowing candidates to avoid being put on the spot regarding the platform. It allows politicians to obfuscate about how they support this or that principle but avoid specific accountability. This type of platform gets support from cranky jaded types who ought to retire from involvement and from those who are not interested in applying issues of the day to our principles and thus help politicians prioritize. And it gets support from people who think conventions are about listening to speeches from politicians instead of being the time when Republican delegates tell them a thing or two through the platform process.
The proponents will insist that everything is covered conceptually as if that is an adequate understanding of what platform planks are about. Nevertheless the defense is easily refuted by just comparing 2012 to the proposed 2014 platform. What they say supposedly covers this or that issue in reality lacks thoroughness and relevance by lack of specification, currency, and prioritization. And many things are substantively missing.
The proponents will insist (except for certain things near and dear to them) that adhering to this or that principle or this or that constitutional amendment will solve all the problems . . . but in the mean time???? They have provided no sufficient answers set forth in the platform.
Having platform planks that respond to the many issues of the day is not writing legislation. It reflects an understanding of the political class and the need for a mechanism of grass roots involvement and a way to convey concerns to politicians collectively, from the workers of the party. Our traditions allow us to call ourselves a party of the people because specific concerns are considered.
Great umbrage will be taken by the platform committee when challenged. Too bad, given their unbridled lack of collegiality in foisting this rewrite on assembled delegates.
We will hear how they are principled people involved with this and that. We can concede that, but then wonder how the heck did certain specifications make it into the platform and not others? Why are so many matters missing on the theory that some generalization covers it but not others?
Consider this delightful specification, apparently thought really important as opposed to so many that are missing from the 2012 platform: Proposed item 5.12 — We support the definition of manure as a natural fertilizer. We have no objection to it whatsoever. We do object to the presumption it is more important by inclusion than so many that were eliminated.
Another mind boggling inclusion in the proposed platform when compared to others that are missing is item 3.8. It reads “We support retaining the step-up in basis on assets transferred from a decedent.” Got that? It must be a profound statement of principle not possibly contemplated in the other generalities.
Throw a dart at a copy of the 2012 state platform and what ever you hit explain why it is expurgatable but item 3.8 is necessary?
There are a number of items where calls are made for Constitutional amendatory measures or opposition to Constitution amendatory matters: See items 1.3: 2.8; 3.4; 6.1; 6.2; and 6.3 in the proposed platform. But curiously the call for a Human Life Amendment to protect the right to life is not present. Note that other matters are not left to high sounding language about how things ought to be in lieu of Constitutional amendment remedies.
Here is an illustration of the concept of the difference between a statement vs a call to action. Proposed item 5.3 now reads: As an immigrant nation and to strengthen and unite us, we support the adoption of English as the official language of the United States of America. It has an introduction and an action item. We certainly support it as written. But eliminate the specific call to action and you have something to the effect “As an immigrant nation and to strengthen and unite us, we support speaking English.”
Such a plank, good people, would be profoundly useless. Add all the folderol you want about the importance of speaking English and you still haven’t said much to the public or legislators. But we are presented effectively little better as regards the right to life.
More examples conspicuous by their absence include matters addressing ethanol mandates, wind energy subsidies, gas taxes, Common Core and many, many other grassroots concerns. Instead the proposed platform allows legislators to hide behind vagaries and blandishments or provides few actual prioritizations or useful specifications, in spite of its preamble and introductory statements.
You can compare the proposed platform to the the 2012 platform and see all that is missing by visiting this link.
Summary and conclusions:
Platforms should not be dismissed as superfluous little diversions for the rubes. Platforms are about accountability. Conventions are not about sitting and listening to speeches from politicians telling us what we need to know, but the other way around.
The proposed platform subverts the grassroots nature of the caucus to convention process. The approach was rejected in the great majority of counties. The Platform Committee operated grandiosely in violation of traditions. It is taking advantage of eleventh hour tactics. The opportunity to thwart their proposal is cumbersome.
The platform process can be streamlined with reliance on new cheap communication avenues. Conceivably the platform could largely be settled by voting before the day of the convention. The process would benefit from better education justification and celebration of the process.
The proposed platform is not supportable alone because it is an insult to the grassroots caucus system. Conceivably elements could serve as introductions to sections and specifications of the 2012 platform.
More reading about the general topic can be obtained through items posted at https://www.veritaspac.com/?s=platitudes R Mall