(July 8)  The Republican National Convention policy committee’s draft platform, released July 8, is an anemic little thing compared to what once was expected from party conventions.

Maybe its thinness and vagueness will prove to be smart politics because it will give critics fewer targets to nitpick, and also because the public’s attention span these days has atrophied to embarrassing levels. Let it be noted, however, that lengthy, program-specific platforms in the past certainly were no hindrance, and quite arguably a real aid, for Republicans to win landslide elections.

This year’s platform runs just 16 pages, with lots of white space. Most of its promises amount to frothy wish-casting. By comparison, the 1980 convention platform, part of Ronald Reagan’s massive victory in which he carried 44 of 50 states, ran for 75 densely packed pages.

For example, the 1980 platform had a nearly 500-word section on “small business.” This year’s draft doesn’t even contain the words “small business.” In 1980, Republicans devoted more than 2,000 words to energy policy. This week’s platform handles energy in just 65 words.

Likewise on healthcare, which Reaganites discussed for about 600 words while the Trump Republicans handle it, in its entirety, with this airy concoction: “Healthcare and prescription drug costs are out of control. Republicans will increase Transparency, promote Choice and Competition, and expand access to new Affordable Healthcare and prescription drug options. We will protect Medicare, and ensure Seniors receive the care they need without being burdened by excessive costs.” (Excess capitalization is the committee’s preference, not mine.) There’s not a single word about how to “promote Choice” and avoid “excessive costs.”

In sum, the 2024 platform reads like a promise sheet for a high school sophomore class presidency rather than a serious document showing that the party has any real policy plans.

Meanwhile, lest anyone think the 1980 affinity for specifics was an anomaly, think again. For decades and decades, that’s how parties did their platforms. The 1984 GOP platform, which I also have in my possession, clocked in at the same 75-page length as the 1980 one.

In years past, the platform was important. It helped the victorious party subsequently claim a mandate to do specific things legislatively. Alas, there’s no guidance for legislative staff to “ensure Seniors receive the care they need.” Government by magic wand might be a fun idea, but somehow it seems wands are in short supply…. [The full column is at this link.]