Political Platforms

A relative from the Midwest asked me recently what I thought of the Republican presidential candidates. I honestly replied, “I haven’t been paying attention. I live in a blue state, anyway.” Embarrassed to be ignorant of something she had thought would make for interesting conversation, I tuned into NPR on my next commute to see what was going on. After a few minutes, I turned it off. Political rhetoric is so antagonistic these days, it only serves to rile me up, or make me utterly despondent. No, thank you.

But please don’t think of my aversion to political news as a walkout on political thoughts. Far from it. I’ve been listening to the Conservative Tradition, a terrific course that covers conservative thought over the past few centuries in Great Britain and the U.S., trying to distill a political platform of my own. If I’m so convinced that neither Democrats or Republicans have it right, if I could ask my very own blue genie for a party that I wanted to elect, what would the party platform be?

I took a look at the 2008 platforms for the two parties, to see what kind of ground I would need to cover. Is there a standard? Well, sort of. The Republicans organized their planks like this:

  • Government Reform
  • Economy
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Crime
  • Values

The Democratic 2008 platform was almost twice as long (not a virtue, in my book) and included these topics:

  • Civil Rights
  • Economy and Job Creation
  • Education
  • Energy Independence
  • Environment
  • Fair Elections
  • Health Care
  • Immigration Reform
  • National Security
  • Open Government
  • Retirement Security
  • Science and Technology
  • Voting Rights

If you click into the headings for each platform, you’ll find that they cover the same sorts of things, in spite of their organizational differences, and emphasize the differences between the two parties.

But I don’t intend to spend my time evaluating their 2008 platforms. I don’t expect that 2012 is going to be a duplicate of 2008. And it could be that whatever views they include in their platforms won’t matter. If we don’t get big enough majorities in both houses of Congress, from the same political party, or at least ideological alignment, we’ll get a minimum two more years of government deadlock, whoever wins the top spot. I hate to say it, but maybe that would be a good thing. If enough of us don’t agree on what needs to be done, such that we can’t create the clear majorities, then we’re getting what the political landscape requires.

And yet, I’m the type who detests lack of progress and accomplishment. I do enjoy thinking and writing about political topics, though. (See the size of the word politics in the Lines of Thought tag cloud for this blog?) So I’ll spend a little blogging time to create my fantasy party platform. At worst, it’ll be a yardstick I can use for candidates and parties in the next election. At best, it’ll be a good topic of conversation.

more to come

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4 Responses to Political Platforms

  1. Vadim says:

    You sound like a sensible person so pleas don’t listen to NPR for news, unless you want to ingest it’s Left wing bias.

  2. Susan from SC says:

    If I thought there was something better, I would listen to it, but bias is everywhere – from what a station chooses not to report, what they choose to report, and/or how they choose to report it. I learned that lesson long ago, when Walter Mondale lost the presidential race, and because I’d been following a “Left wing” newspaper, I couldn’t figure out why he’d lost. I noticed the bias in another form in another city when I found that local “public” radio stations weren’t carrying the Republican Presidents’ addresses to the nation. But I cannot tolerate the sound bite news, or infotainment news, or doom-and-gloom news of other outlets, so NPR it is.

  3. Jen says:

    I caught the end of this in the car heading back from lunch and stayed a few minutes more than i intended, it was an interesting view of how we ended up with less ‘political middle’.

    I just listened to it online – he jokes for the first 9 minutes but at about the 9 minute mark he starts talking more seriously.


    Political analyst and Minnesota native Norm Ornstein speaks at the Westminster Town Hall Forum on our broken government and what can be done to improve the system. Ornstein is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, an election analyst for CBS, and writes a weekly column for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper.

    These Westminster Town Hall forums are almost always interesting when i manage to catch them. http://westminsterforum.org/

  4. Pingback: Platform Plank: Family « Jars of Water

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