Staff Columnist

Iowa partisans concoct jumbo-sized party platforms

Republican and Democrat convention delegates will consider proposed platforms this weekend

Markers denote delegates' seating areas at the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention at the Iowa Events Center-Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Delegates to the Iowa Democratic Convention will elect a total of 15 national convention delegates at the convention using a handheld electronic device. Iowa's delegation to the DNC consists of 51 delegates and four alternates. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Markers denote delegates' seating areas at the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention at the Iowa Events Center-Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Delegates to the Iowa Democratic Convention will elect a total of 15 national convention delegates at the convention using a handheld electronic device. Iowa's delegation to the DNC consists of 51 delegates and four alternates. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Good news for politicians. Gov. Kim Reynolds says you don’t have to follow the whole party platform.

“It’s a guideline of what the grass roots Republicans kind of look to for the state, but it’s not something that every single candidate has to abide by. It is kind of an overarching goal of what the party is working on,” Reynolds said this week, in response to a question about an anti-gay marriage plank in the GOP’s new proposed platform.

In fact, no politician on either side could possibly subscribe to all the planks in their party’s platform.

Republicans and Democrats will consider adoption of new party platforms at the state conventions this Saturday. I reviewed the draft documents sent to delegates and found they are an exercise in contradiction and hypocrisy, as party platforms usually are.

Iowa Democratic Party 2018 State Convention Call Book

Iowa GOP State Convention tabloid

Libertarian Party of Iowa Platform

The activists who elected President Donald Trump say “high moral character is a necessity for public servants.” The party of Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad also apparently supports term limits for elected officials.

The Democrats say they will protect constitutional rights, followed by dozens of planks misinterpreting the Constitution and imagining new federal powers.

On education policy, the Democrats say they support involving the community in decision-making, and the Republicans go even further with “full local control in schools.” Both documents go on to prescribe rules and regulations which should be mandated to local schools.

Republicans say they want a balanced budget and Democrats say they want peace. Those planks may as well be a guide on what not to do for either party’s presidents.

The Republicans’ platform weighs in at more than 2,000 words, taking up the better part of three broadsheet pages in the convention tabloid. The Democrats’ platform is even worse at more than 6,000 words and 29 pages, part of an 89-page convention call book.

The Democrats mostly just list things they support or oppose, often just two or three words or a single acronym. It’s packed full of policy shorthand no normal human could fully understand, like “complete-streets,” “GDRP-level PII data protection,” or “ATT ATTCC.” I know Democrats fancy themselves as policy wonks, but surely this is no way to be an inclusive party.

By the way, dozens of acronyms don’t make the document any shorter, since all are defined in list form at the end of each section. Still, the acronym glossaries were a good place to sneak in this gem: “Robert D Ray — Mythical creature, a Republican that embraced immigration.”

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party hosted its first official state convention last week, after earning major party status following the 2016 elections. Their platform is a single page, briefly describing their core values and listing just six public policy objectives, including ending the war on drugs, eliminating state income taxes and restricting the use of eminent domain.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

What good is a platform which doesn’t bind politicians to their positions and is too complicated for average voters to understand? A fine way to waste a Saturday. Good luck, delegates.

• Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Want to join the conversation?

Consider subscribing to TheGazette.com and participate in discussing the important issues to our community with other Gazette subscribers.

Already a Gazette or TheGazette.com subscriber? Just login here with your account email and password.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.