Nobody pays much attention to the party platform—including the party, until some piece of it makes headline news. At last week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, the official “platform” was destined to the usual low profile until the Republicans made headlines over the fact that the Democrats had dropped the word “God” and removed language regarding Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—both of which were present in the 2008 party platform. One day after approving the official party platform, the omission was reversed in a contentious voice vote from the floor that attracted even more attention to the matter.
Addressing the relevance of a party platform, NPR said: “The platform itself is a relic from the days when the parties were far more important institutions.”
While the platform may hold little sway over the candidate’s views or what actually happens in the next four years, it does outline some distinct contrasts between the parties on some major issues. For example, the Republican platform opposes abortion under any circumstance, while the Democratic platform supports abortion at any time. Both, also, have well-known, opposite views on gay marriage. These differences where highlighted last week in Charlotte as the Democrats gave key speaking spots to Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards and Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke and to openly gay Representatives Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin. One report cites an Orthodox Jew—sporting a beard and a payot and wearing a black suit and broad-brimmed hat—as saying: “In speech after speech, they promoted gay marriage. I don't think there was a single speech without it.” Even Michelle Obama’s speech supported the controversial themes.
Clearly, the DNC hasn’t shied away from polarizing issues—which makes the public absence of another platform plank all the more curious: climate change.