Political parties do many strange things, but this seems especially so during a presidential election year. And, boy, are we in the middle of a doozy!
As I write this article we have already seen the conclusion of the Republican National Convention (RNC), and we’re in the midst of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Since many of the goings-on mean very little to the vast majority of us, I have been delving into some of the terms we hear each election cycle, but know very little about them. In particular, what does “platform” mean within the context of the conventions?
Well, here’s what I’ve discovered. On the web site, wiki.answers.com, they provided this answer to political platforms. “American political parties are organized on a national, state, and local basis. Every four years, the parties hold a national convention to nominate a presidential and vice presidential candidate. They also meet to approve a party platform of issues and positions upon which the candidates will run. A party platform is a set of principles, goals, and strategies designed to address pressing political issues.”
From this definition it would appear that the leadership of each party works diligently to establish pertinent issues and policy positions. Then it is expected that the party candidates for president and vice president will comply with this platform.
So what was the platform established by the Republicans? First: Jefferson’s vision of a “wise and frugal government” must be restored. Second: this platform affirms that America has always been a place of grand dreams and even grander realities; and so it will be again, if we return government to its proper role, making it smaller and smarter. Third: we will lift the torch of freedom and democracy to inspire all those who would be free. Fourth: we will always support and cherish our men and women in uniform who defend our liberties with their lives. And so the list of issues and ideas continues extensively.
The Democratic Party has their platform as well. First: cutting waste, reducing the deficit, asking all to pay their fair share. Second: all-of-the-above energy policy. Third: out-building and out-innovating the rest of the world. Fourth: standing up for workers. Fifth: help small business. And so the list goes on much like the Republican platform.
So what’s all the fuss about the Democratic Party and their platform? Simple. There was one sentence carried over from the 2008 platform that said: “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.” Using the phrase “God-given” is what raised a ruckus. This is the only place in the entire document where God is ever mentioned.
Besides the silliness of this dust-up is the fact that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland was the chairman for the Platform Drafting Committee. “Who’s Ted Strickland?” you ask. Besides his role as governor, he is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Under his supervision both this phrase “God-given,” and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were removed from the Democratic Party platform for 2012.
Republicans, seeing an opportunity to embarrass the Democrats, made an issue of this intentional removal of God and Jerusalem from the platform. It worked! Last night during their convention, the DNC made a motion to reinstate God and Jerusalem back into the platform. This would seem to be a rather simple and perfunctory process, right? Not so fast!
Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, had the unenviable task of chairing the conference last night. I’m sure he thought this would be a mindless procedural move and then they could get on with the meatier parts of the evenings events. Unfortunately, things did not work out that way. Using the parliamentary process of “voice vote,” the proposal was read which would return the God language and Jerusalem back into the platform. He told the delegates to vote “Aye” for reinstating the original language, or “No” to keep the platform as is. There was a loud chorus of Ayes, which I’m sure the good mayor figured would seal the deal. But when the Nos were heard, it was every bit as loud as the Ayes – maybe louder. The mayor hesitated. He began to declare that “the Ayes have it.” But he stopped, realizing that would sound silly. So he asked the question again. And again, the Ayes were very loud in favor of putting the God language back in. And the Nos were again, very loud. The mayor stood there, uncertain as to what to do next. He looked around for possible advice or help. An adviser told him to go ahead with it, so he asked the question again. This is now the third time! Same results. Visibly frustrated by this unforeseen glitch in the proceedings, he made a decision which merely reflected what had already been previously determined. He said, “In the opinion of the Chair, 2/3rds have voted in the affirmative, the motion is adopted, and the platform has been amended.” What followed was a rumble of Boos coming from the delegates throughout the convention center.
I can’t help but reflect on a passage of Scripture, (Psalm 2:1-6, The Message). “Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples? Earth-leaders push for position, demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks. The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers: ‘Let’s get free of God! Cast loose from Messiah!’ Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing. At first he’s amused at their presumption; then he gets good and angry. Furiously, he shuts them up: ‘Don’t you know there’s a King in Zion? A coronation banquet is spread for him on the holy summit.’”
Two things you should know: 1) God is laughing at our foolishness in our vain attempts to be rid of him. 2) Zion is another name for Jerusalem, which is where King Jesus will make his residence when he returns.
Think about it! Where do you stand in relation to God, and his Son, the King of Jerusalem?