Delegate Victor Ashe: Party platform puts GOP ‘squarely on the right’

Note: Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and U.S. ambassador to Poland, will be writing a “Delegate Diary” for the News Sentinel from the 2016 Republican National Convention. The following is an excerpt from his report on a meeting of the Platform Committee, of which he is a member:

The committee-approved platform “certainly marks the party as the most conservative.

Whether social issues or national defense or economic issues, the party is squarely on the right. To the credit of the 112 delegates, there was extensive debate and almost exhaustive consideration given.

The section on foreign policy was titled a “Dangerous World,” and contains the view of how the world looks today. Given the tragic set of attacks across the world, the title is an accurate summary of the situation all of us face.

As an observer, the shortcomings were lack of substantive research on some amendments as there was on occasion an absence of resources to verify or nullify assertions. That is why the committee focused on national security and relationships with foreign allies in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The United Kingdom was recognized as our top ally — whether the U.K. is in the European Union or not.

A quick glance at the composition of the Platform Committee shows a membership overwhelmingly white, with only one African-American woman and one openly gay woman. At some point, the Republican Party must include more nonwhites if there is a serious intent to win future national elections. The makeup of the committees is governed by each state delegation, which chooses one man and one woman on each standing committee.

…An innovative development among committee members was continued discussion on changing to a short, direct statement of principles not to exceed 1,200 words. Such a platform would be much more readable and understandable than the current 33,000-word document.

Led by Boyd Matheson of Utah, the effort to shrink built support as the arcane debate on numerous amendments left delegates wondering how much the American public would ever understand or know about the decisions made in Cleveland. They are right on target: only policy wonks and some media people will ever read such long reports.

Shorter statements of principle for both political parties would enable more voters to be better informed on both parties’ platform. Perhaps it would increase voter turnout. Such a move could not take place until the 2020 presidential election.