Platforms as a proxy for ‘mainstream’ thought


During a Fox News interview yesterday, Mitt Romney expressed outrage over minor changes to the language of the national Democratic Party platform.

“…I think their having removed purposefully ‘God’ from their platform suggests a party which is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people. I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don’t recognize it.”

Now, as it turns out, President Obama apparently learned yesterday about some of the platform changes, and told party officials to edit the document, putting references to “God” and “Jerusalem” back into the platform. If Democrats, to use Romney’s word, “purposefully” made their platform more secular, Dems also purposefully reversed course one day later.

And while there’s ample room for debate about whether Democrats caved too quickly and without good reason, I’m also struck by the notion that the party’s platform can be used as evidence of Democrats “veering” from the American mainstream, “into an extreme wing.”

After all, has Romney seen his platform? The whole, 55-page document is online, and for those who are up to it, the Republican platform is well worth reading. Adam Serwer went through it in some detail last week and found oblique references to the nutty anti-Shariah theory, bizarre fears of the United Nations, and misguided sympathy for the gold standard. Adam also noticed language that suggests the party wants to reinstate “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” too.

Brad Plumer also dug through the GOP document, highlighting its hostility towards the 16th Amendment, a desire to police academia for liberal bias, and a desire to crack down on pornography. Molly Redden took her own tour through the platform, and noticed the Republican intention to apply the 14th Amendment to the unborn.

It’s not unreasonable to scrutinize platforms for evidence of extremism, but Romney appears to be throwing stones from a glass house. “A party which is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people”? The GOP platform seems to get a little nuttier every year, showing increasing acceptance of fringe ideas that would have been laughed at by the Republican establishment before the radicalization of the party.

Platforms as a proxy for 'mainstream' thought