by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joel Stein made some amusing discoveries when he attempted to write a platform for the Democratic Party, as documented in his latest edition of “The Awesome Column” for TIME.
[T]he platform, I learned, is supposed to be boring. It’s one of the few documents that people write hoping no one reads them. That’s because the extreme wing of the party is likely to shove something in that the candidate won’t want to say to normal Americans, like liberals’ advocating beating up rich people and taking their money. To resolve this dilemma, the platform writer inserts a boring phrase like “Restore fairness to the tax code.”
Even worse, Kamarck told me that no one person writes the platform. Instead, a subcommittee of 15 people picked by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) writes an initial draft. About 100 people meet in Detroit to work on it further, and then a full committee votes on each proposal. “The process junks up your beautiful writing,” Kamarck said. “You’ll have two paragraphs of beautiful prose and a very clunky sentence about Mexico trucking written by the Teamsters.” I was excited to finally be able to blame my clunky writing on the Teamsters.
Kamarck was clear about the fact that the DNC wouldn’t accept my platform, but we writers are used to discouragement. I just needed to write a really, really good one. I pressed Kamarck for some tips. “The platform is composed of three things,” she said. “One is brag, brag, brag, brag, brag about all the great things the President has done. The second part is all the great things the President will do in his next term. The third part is oldies but goodies. ‘Repeal Taft-Hartley’ has been in many platforms since Taft-Hartley was enacted in 1947.” I should also work in abortion rights and lots of prounion stuff. All of which, she said, should be written in a tone so ludicrously lofty, it could be used by Bob Costas during the Olympics.