Why a Platform is so important to effective Leadership of Political Parties
The Republican National Committee drafts a National Platform form for the Republican Party every four years. This platform is not a State or County based Platform. State and County Platforms do not compete with a National platform - they are in addition to the National platform. A State Platform addresses issues that are unique to that State. An Ohio Platform addresses items specific to Ohio. A County Platform addresses items specific to a County. Additionally, Counties draft platforms for municipalities, townships, and local school districts.
Drafting a Platform
A party starts drafting a platform by developing a Vision. The Vision is a lengthy document of a realized future where Republican policies have been implemented. For example, a vision statement might be, "Republicans want to realize a future where you do not need to lock your house and your car doors at night."
From the Vision, the Party develops specific goals it wants to accomplish. For example, a goal might be "to reduce opioid-related crime by 50% or more over the next four years."
It is essential to give registered Republicans an idea of when the Party expects to accomplish its goals. It is vital to draft short-term goals (within two years) and mid-term Goals (within four years), and long-term Goals of more than four years. A Party will make statements like "Our goal is to pass this platform plank within the next two years." Typically, at the State-level, the Speaker of the House and Senate President are very conscious of accomplishing the Party's goals ahead of schedule to retain their leadership position.
The Platform is composed of specific policy items that will be implemented to accomplish Goals and realize the Party's Vision. For example, a platform item may be "Republicans intend to levy a nickel tax on every 12 ounces of alcohol sold at taverns and restaurants in Ohio's large and mid-sized cities to fund putting 4,000 more police on the ground. This will help reduce crime in our urban areas and increase the patronage at taverns and restaurants as the public feels safer to go out in the evening."
Whereas the Vision is the 30,000-foot view - the Platform is the view on the ground.
A party needs to draft realistic goals and priorities. A State that has a Convention every two years should consider preparing no less than five platform items and no more than twenty platform items to be accomplished between Conventions. The performance of the Party is gauged by how many of the platform planks are realized. If very few planks are completed, the Party may look for new leadership and consider supporting other candidates for Speaker of the House and Senate President.
Why Should You Demand a Platform?
A platform is not rhetoric and something intangible. A Platform is a tangible goal that can be measured so you can judge the performance of the party. Of course, many party leaders that like power but dislike getting things done will resist drafting a Platform. They don't like their performance being reviewed.
A Platform is a contract with Republicans. It holds the party accountable to "Say what you're going to do, and do what you say you are going to."
A platform is a rallying point for the party. It defines the party and builds passion for the party. If a platform is not popular, it will harm the party. If the platform is popular it will help the party be successful. Without a platform, the party maybe successful at electing candidates - but it does not allow the coordination necessary to implement game-changing policies that will greatly increase prosperity.
Why State and County Platforms are Different than the National Platform?
The National Platform of a party really is a combination of national policy objectives and expresses the values and principles of the party. This helps to try to coordinate State Leadership on a national level.
For instance a Party might believe in State Sovereignty and strong States - where the Federal Government does not tell the States what to do. While the Party may be a right-to-life party it may not seek federal legislation to end abortion - instead it may seek to end abortion on a State by State basis. So the party can define the values and principles for the nation and this helps to shape policy at the State level.
The national platform drafts all the things at the national-level and it is not necessary for the State or County to draft it in their platform. A State Party should not be drafting items like "The Israeli embassy shall be moved to Bethlehem" or "Republicans will support a free and democratic Taiwan and will fight Chinese aggression." These are not items that are pertinent to the State. If there are items that the State is passionate about - then these should be communicated to the delegates at the national convention.