Teapublicans and The Party Platformby Art Jacobson on Jul. 13, 2011, under Debt Crisis, Grand ol' Tea Party, Politics, Tax Policy
The genius of American politics has always been pragmatism. This pragmatism has been evidenced, until now, in the major parties’ refusal to pay any lasting attention to their own platforms.
Every four years the platform committees of our major parties groaned and heaved and gave birth to documents that the parties as a whole had every intention of completely ignoring once the conventions were over.
It used to be that party platforms were easy to ignore. They were ill-written, stupefyingly dull, and seldom printed in the public press. No candidate ever pointed with pride to his party platform, or promised to work to realize it. No voter had the attention span to slog through it.
The only justification for a party platform was that it provided a place for the single-issue wackos and passionate ideologues to have their say. It created the impression that all the folks in the big tent had the same mind-set. It was the glue of party unity.
In the past, extreme views got stuck into platforms like bugs in amber and were forgotten with the platforms themselves.
On the whole this has been a good thing. When it came time for the down and dirty of political legislation what was practical and what was possible took precedence over ideology; deals were made, compromises were accepted, and some sort of legislative progress was made.
No longer. The Teapublican platform is short: Cut spending, cut taxes.
It used to be that the last thing it occurred to anyone to say was.. “By golly we’ll die in the last ditch before we give ground on this crucial part of the sacred platform.”
Although there were always great general differences between the parties, there were no fixed doctrinal statements or single issues to which they were wed without possibility of divorce.
Now all that has changed. A significant part of our political establishment is not only ready to die in he last ditch, it is ready to pull the rest of us in after it.