by Rod D. Martin
July 17, 2016
I’ve been asked why the platform matters. It’s a good question.
First, the platform is a formal statement of who we are as a party, as agreed to by our delegates, elected locally across America through a grassroots process. While they may be bound to a particular candidate on the first ballot, when it comes to the platform they are not bound by anything except their beliefs and the beliefs of those who sent them.
Platforms are a statement. They are also a barometer. And the difference between what our platform says and what the one the Democrats will shortly produce could not be greater.
Second, our platform is not the platform of one Presidential race, but of all Republicans and all Republican candidates for all of the more than 500,000 public offices in this country, for the next four years. Some will scoff at it: that’s their right. But they will do so knowing they’re endangering their position in the process. The success of the Tea Party has made that clear, as has (on the other side) the defeat of Hillary Clinton by Barack Obama and her near defeat by Bernie Sanders.
Third, some of the guys who scoff at the platform would quickly tell you how much it matters and how much the party had betrayed us if, for instance, the platform were changed to endorse gay marriage or abortion. And they’d be right, because the platform is a statement of who we are, and to a large degree is why most people choose one party over the other, even if they haven’t read the documents themselves. When we say this or that politician has “betrayed us,” we are generally holding them to the standard of the platform.
But perhaps most important, the platform matters for two very specific negative reasons. 1. If the platform ever shifted left, many of our candidates would immediately shift with it, and many of us would find ourselves without a party. And 2. Most Presidential candidates have attempted to cause exactly that shift, presumably partly because they were RINOs, and partly because they were ashamed of us and of our party.
Yes, the platform matters. It’s not the only thing that matters (and people are always looking for a silver bullet). But it’s absolutely worth fighting for, and good conservatives have fought — and fought well — for it for decades. That’s made an enormous difference. However frustrated we may be with Republicans at any given time, the party is unrecognizably better than it was in 1976 and before. And a lot of that is due to the tireless work of conservative, grassroots Republicans voicing their conscience through this essential means.
One last thing: no one has been more essential to that process than Phyllis Schlafly. Her new book, How the Republican Party Became Pro-Life, is a must read on exactly this topic.