GOP activists fight to preserve platform

by Robert Maynard

The Vermont GOP will convene a convention to address changes made to a platform that was originally adopted by the 2010 GOP Convention.  Several activists from the platform committee are trying to have the original platform language restored.  The following is a message explaining their position:

The convention is at the Montpelier Elks Club on Country Club Road which is directly across from Agway on RT 2 in Montpelier. Registration will be from 8:30 am to 9:30am.  The Convention will start at 9:30am.

(1) Back in 2006, the VT GOP Platform was one page long. People werestrongly not satisfied with that, and wanted the Party to much more clearly define who we were and what we believe in as a Party. That led to the Platform Committees of 2008 and 2010, which conducted meetings around the State and gathered input from many Vermont Republicans, not just the higher-up officials of the Party. The input of many people crafted this Platform. Widespread involvement led to the strengthening of the Platform language over two Platform cycles until it reached the document you see today.  We are not aware of any widespread calls for the removal of the current Platform from Republicans all over the state. When and where were the meetings held at which that input was received? If we pass this new proposal, we will  be right back to 2006, where the Platform was one page long.

(2) The current Vermont Democratic Party Platform is eight pages long without an Executive Summary. The current VT Republican Platform is only six pages long, with a one page unofficial executive summary attached. Our Platform is not too long. It is shorter than the VT Democrats Platform. Their Platform is very detailed and specific, as is ours. However, ours is already shorter. Throwing out all of our current Platform and having only one page of generalities when the Democrats have eight pages of very specific principles is not a good idea.

(3) How long is our national Republican Platform?  100 pages?  Vermont’s current GOP Platform is not too long. One page is way too short. The Democrats are not afraid to spell out exactly what they stand for, in detail. Are we?

(4) Although this is a very imperfect comparison, we have a United States Constitution that is about 17 pages long. Would it say the same thing, and cover all the principles it covers now, if it were cut back to one page?

(5) Here is one example of language in the current Platform that has been removed entirely from the new proposed Platform.  It can be found as part of SECTION VII.  “Vermont Republicans support an individual’s freedom  to select the health care insurance coverage best suited to their needs. Vermont Republicans oppose a publicly-funded healthcare monopoly. We support the  immediate repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly known as Obamacare. Vermont Republicans support efforts to achieve affordable healthcare by allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, enacting tort reform measures, and other measures that would reduce the costs of medical care without rationing or making drastic cuts to programs that provide care to the most vulnerable Vermonters.”  This language has all been removed. Why?? Do we as Republicans no longer support these things?? This whole section has been replaced with only  “We believe in affordable healthcare” in the newly proposed one-page Platform. THIS IS NOT THE SAME CONCEPT AT ALL. It leaves the door wide open to the VT GOP supporting single-payer as proposed by Peter Shumlin or some other form of socialized medicine.

(6) Here is another example of language that has been removed:  “Vermont Republicans oppose partial birth abortion and do not support the use of taxpayer dollars to organizations that provide abortions.”   (also in Section VII)

(7) Here is another example of language that has been removed:  “Vermont Republicans support the enforcement of legal immigration and measures to protect and secure our international borders, our airports, our water supply and our nuclear power plant, without unnecessary infringement upon our civil rights. ”   (Section VI)

(8) Here is another example of language that has been removed:  “Vermont Republicans oppose any legislation that promotes a culture of death.”  (Section VII)

(9) Here are other examples of language that has been removed. These examples are samples from sections in SECTION X. In some cases they are part of a paragraph, not the whole paragraph. These are just to provide examples. This language has been removed.  “We seek candidates with high personal standards of integrity, who will uphold and have read the Constitution of the United States and the State of Vermont. Vermont Republicans believe that limited, open, and transparent government best serves the people. We oppose centralization of power and support the Constitutional principles of three branches of government that are separate and independent.”

(10) Removed:  “Vermont Republicans expect the Vermont legislature to assess the cost of any new or expanded government programs before enacting them into law and without increasing the already excessive tax burden on our citizens. No legislation shall be passed without an accompanying cost analysis statement.”  This language supports our gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock’s position on state-run single-payer healthcare. (He is opposed. Why would we want to remove language like this from our Party Platform right in the middle of Randy’s campaign for governor? Won’t that pull the rug right out from under his feet?)

(11) Removed:  “Vermont Republicans reject judiciary encroachment upon legislative powers and oppose ‘legislating from the bench.’ We also support reform of the judicial review process.”  (SECTION X)

(12) Removed:  “ . . . While Republicans may hold diverse opinions on specific legislative proposals, such differences should not deflect from advancing the principles that unite us as a Party. As united Republicans, we seek to apply the principles embodied in this Platform to our vision for the future of Vermont.”   (SECTION XI)

(13) Why would our Party remove language such as all the examples provided above? When you have language written in a document that is legally placed therein, and then you remove it by another action later, the removal has a meaning.  (1)  At best, it means you are now neutral, or have no position on the issue.   (2) At worst, it means you now believe in exactly the opposite of what was once there. And who decides which interpretation to adopt? Each individual? That will shatter the current cohesive meaning of the language in the Platform. It is IN the Platform. We know exactly what it means. (Our current language was indeed legally placed there by the vote of the 2010 VT GOP Platform Convention. It was ratified language. It can only be removed by another vote of another VT GOP Platform Committee.

(14) The Democrats tried to remove two items from their Platform at their Convention, and it caused a big problem. We are proposing to remove all of the current language, and substitute a condensed version which will not have the same meaning and absolutely does not include everything in the current 2010-2012 Platform. Some examples are given above.

(15) The current 2010 – 2012 VT GOP Platform has six pages of specific principles and positions, and an unofficial one page executive summary at the beginning. This summary was written by the Platform Committee after the Platform was officially passed in 2010. So we already have a short form of the Platform for those who do not care to read it all. We don’t need another one-page summary that does not refer back to a Platform, but instead will be all there is of the Platform. So the Dems will have eight pages of specifics, and we will have one page of much more general language. If the newly proposed one-page 2012 Platform was proposed six years ago to replace the one-page document in effect at that time, it would have been an improvement. Now, four years later, if this passes and seven pages of current language which passed unanimously in 2010 are tossed out, it is a major step backwards.

(16) There are other arguments one can make, but this will give you plenty of food for thought and points for discussions with your people.  A number of us who worked on the Platform Committee between 2008 – 2012 oppose this new proposed Platform strongly because it guts the current Platform. No matter what people may say, it does not preserve everything in the current Platform. It replaces many specific details with much more general language. We lose a lot of principles that the current Platform stands for. If we really believe in the excellent language and principles embodied in the current Platform, we will vote to keep it intact and simply pass the two proposed Amendments which will preserve all the rights and principles in the current Platform. The Democrats are not afraid to state their principles and beliefs in detail. Why would we back away from that in favor of more general language which does not cover everything in the current Platform? Please support the two Trudell amendments and vote yes for them.