In news that few anticipated, on Sunday the GOP conceded defeat in the marketplace of ideas and adopted a resolution not to pass a platform at this week’s Republican National Convention.
For those of you that think this seems extraordinarily odd, well…it is. Anyone who has taken a high school government class or happened to watch Hamilton on Disney+ has a basic understanding of the importance of a party platform, which is essentially a mission and values statement for a party in a given election cycle.
That Republicans would forgo this work in favor of their chosen path, opting instead to brazenly embrace President Donald Trump’s agenda wholesale, makes very little sense from a long term perspective and could spell disastrous consequences for Republicans in swing races across Texas.
This level of ideological deference has never been granted to presidents who were either popular or respected. To be sure, presidential nominees always shape the party’s platform to a certain extent, but there are almost always hedges designed to protect down ballot candidates from unpopular policy proposals championed by their party’s nominee.
It’s actually pretty simple political cover to give your candidates, but this isn’t a cycle where the Republicans seem concerned about anything other than their free falling standard bearer. Of all the speakers at this convention only two face tough races: Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and Houston-area Congressman Dan Crenshaw.
It isn’t surprising that Crenshaw would choose to speak despite being locked in a close race with Sima Ladjevaridan in Texas’ 2nd District. The freshman representative has developed quite the cult of personality in his first term and is widely seen as a rising star in the GOP. Lobbyists in Austin and DC openly speculate about his potential as a replacement or opponent to Ted Cruz in 2024.
But for Ernst and other endangered incumbents, this is a massive tactical blunder by the party, and the ripple effect could very well hurt Crenshaw as well. It isn’t easy to run down ticket with a president whose impulsive tweets have done everything from offend sensibilities to hurt financial markets. In the past, no matter what the criticisms of Trump were, Republicans could always say “let me tell you what we stand for,” or “I believe in our platform,” during scandals and controversies.
This platform decision is disastrous for the GOP, and their excuses for it are as lame as the decision itself. They claim that the burgeoning pandemic prevented them from conducting party business as usual just days after the DNC wrapped up a successful, well reviewed and widely watched convention. Oh, and they managed to pass a platform while they did it.
While you may not pay very much attention to the party machinations that we’re discussing today, make no mistake: the Republicans’ decision to punt on enacting a platform is just the latest microcosm for their failures as a party under Trump. Where Democrats are meeting the pandemic head on and finding competent, innovative solutions to move our country forward, the Republicans are trapped in a state of arrested development, forced to live day to day at the whims of Donald Trump.
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