Political party platforms are at once everything and nothing – they hold significant meaning for those who care and are unknown to 99 percent of the general population. If a political party is a business, a party platform is its mission statement. If a political party is a product, a party platform is its brand.
Under freedom of association, every political party has a right to its brand. It has a right to assume a brand, message that brand and, within its own ranks, press for alignment to the brand. It makes no sense for a political party that believes deeply in the Second Amendment to brand itself any other way nor does it make sense for that political party to welcome members who feel differently about gun ownership.
A political party platform is important because a clear brand is important in the marketplace of ideas. This is why labels are important and why so many malcontents inside a party express disdain for labels. No matter their excuses, they don’t want to be labeled because they don’t agree with you. Labels appropriately help set boundaries on ideas. When you hear the word liberal, you have a certain image in mind. It’s the same for the words conservative or libertarian or communist. You have an idea with what you’re dealing.
All of this said, there is a great argument for party platforms to be brief. Get to your brand and get there quickly. When I buy laundry detergent all I really care about is that it doesn’t smell perfumey and that it cleans my clothes. I don’t really care about its ingredients – and it’s not that I don’t care what ingredients comprise my detergent. It’s just that I don’t shop ingredients. I shop preference and effectiveness. If I find I don’t like an ingredient in my preferred brand, I change products. Interestingly, what I don’t do is lobby the manufacturer to alter its product just for me.
No relevant political party platform should address every issue under the sun. There are too many issues and too many personal preferences. One big problem facing the Utah Republican Party is that its platform is too long and tackles too many issues. A long platform with endless opinions about every issue de jour is a control-freak’s dream and principled man’s nightmare. This whole controversy about party purity and litmus tests and “real” Republicans is exacerbated by a seemingly endless platform. Worried and fearful ideologues create detailed platforms. Confident leaders simply and clearly express their brand.
In this spirit of confident leadership, I offer a new platform for Utah’s Republican Party. It’s less than 300 words. It has two sections: who we are and how we do business. Here it is:
The Utah Republican Party stands for freedom.
We value every human life, its dignity and flourishing, in a context of “Nature and Nature’s God.”
We revere the Declaration of Independence and sustain the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution in their original intent.
We respect federalism, guard state autonomy and uphold the principle of subsidiarity between governments.
We solemnly affirm that happiness is the end of man’s social institutions.
We cherish every virtue designed to uplift the human spirit and sustain governments designed to benefit free people.
We support earned success and equal opportunity for all.
We seek to protect civil society, families and their social institutions, from government encroachment.
We value prudence over expediency, futurity over immediacy and the common good over selfish individualism.
We seek to preserve what works, reform what can be improved and eliminate what is unnecessary.
We seek and support good, honest and wise citizens to hold public office.
Our members endeavor to be informed, principled and reasonable.
We are humane people of good will.
We are united in public affairs by an unending quest for good government.
We warmly welcome all citizens who support those principles that unite us.
We act to simplify party participation and expand civic participation.
We strive to collaborate in a productive manner, while remaining civil and respecting differences.
We seek openness, accountability and transparency.
We are public servants in the cause of freedom.
So, there you have it: A clear conservative brand; a focus on freedom; and, a welcoming attitude. No need to dive into the deep weeds of issues. It’s a party platform that teaches correct principles and then let’s Republican political leaders govern themselves.