Lest you start to think only Democratic platform architects are being harassed by cranky outsiders from their left, here’s Ed Kilgore at NYMag:
For a political party known until quite recently for its virtually unanimous support for the dictates of conservative ideology, the GOP has got some shockingly large divisions on issues today, thanks to Donald Trump… There is no way to identify a single inch of common ground between Trump’s attacks on globalization as the source of all evil and the views of the Republican-leaning U.S. business community (see this angry op-ed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue). Slightly less heated but still important are Trump-GOP differences over social security and Medicare, treated by Trump as part of an inviolable social contract and by most Republicans as sacred cows that need to be slaughtered to bring federal spending under control. Immigration, of course, has created its own well-known intra-party fault lines. And there’s trouble all over the national-security landscape, beginning with Trump’s skepticism about NATO and his non-interventionist instincts, in a party where there’s a lot of lusty desire for Middle Eastern wars or maybe a nostalgic dustup with Russia.
All these divisions make the drafting and adoption of a party platform — normally a chore so routine and boring you don’t even hear about it beyond marginal arguments over the precise language of planks on abortion or guns — perilous. It would be natural for Team Trump to want to place the mogul’s personal stamp on the party’s statement of principles and proposals. And it would be tempting for those resisting Trump’s takeover of the GOP to start a platform fight at the convention.
How to avoid trouble? Well, two distinguished conservatives (one the president of Hillsdale College, the other a member of the actual platform committee) writing at the Washington Examiner have an idea: Make the platform so abstract and brief that none of the divisions even appear…
The gentlemen who wrote the Examiner article hark back to Lincoln’s 1860 platform, “written in the succinct and beautiful language of principle”. They admire his avowal of “‘the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution’,” and discretely ignore the stern reality in the second half of the same sentence — Lincoln was announcing that the would-be secessionists would not be permitted to tear the country in half if they could not force the rest of the citizenry to live under their antediluvian social mores: “‘the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States, and the Union of the States, must and shall be preserved.'”
In place of such direct force, they propose a wishlist of gauzy nothings:
…The federal government has become too centralized and many powers should be checked or returned to the states. The American people have the right to decide who joins them in citizenship. The military should be strong in defense of our nation and its interests. War should be undertaken cautiously, but when undertaken it should be fought fiercely and with the utmost speed. All agreements with other nations should be made in the interest of the American people. The social safety net, built at vast expense, should be made and kept secure.
One can find sanction for all of these opinions in the writings of Abraham Lincoln, and for many in that early Republican platform. One can also find general agreement in the likes of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Mike Lee and Tom Cotton, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse…
… All six of whom, on their best days, could not in combination have approached President Lincoln’s talents on his worst. Oh asses dressed in lion’s skin!