What changes will be made in the platform and rules of the Republican Party of Arkansas? Delegates may not find out until long after they vote on it.
We keep hearing that the proposed changes in the platform and rules will not be presented in a markup form where delegates can see exactly what is being added and what is being deleted. We hope that is not true.
What is a “markup”? It is a system of showing every addition by underlining the new text and showing every deletion by striking through the text.
Having changes presented in markup form was deemed so important that the Arkansas legislature has required it on bills for at least twenty-five years.[i]
Without a markup, additions and deletions may not be noticed by the reader, especially in long documents. Even small changes in words can have a big impact on what is meant. We recall several years ago there was a bill in the Arkansas legislature that came to a screeching halt because a comma had been deleted. We don’t recall the bill number but the issue was whether removal of the comma resulted in the new language allowing euthanasia. Every word is important and so is every comma.
Why wouldn’t delegates and all Republican members be given the proposed platform and rules in markup form? It is not only a courtesy, it is a necessity for informed decisions.
Even when someone tries to diligently explain changes, they may not be able to cover everything and their interpretation may not necessarily be the same as the interpretation of a majority of the delegates.
Some Republican officeholders take actions that make it appear they have never seen the platform and don’t think it is important. But for most state delegates and county committee members the platform and rules are the most important documents of the party.
EMBARRASSMENT OF 2016
After the party’s 2016 embarrassment you would think the party would make sure to provide a markup document showing every change from the previous platform and rules.
In 2016 the proposed platform deleted the ten principles of the state party and substituted a new list of principles that appeared to be written to give a lot more wiggle room to establishment types who didn’t like the existing principles. The new principles didn’t even cover important principles such as “The power of faith in God” and “Individual freedom and liberty secured by a limited government.”
Most delegates had no clue what had been left out when they voted on the new platform for 2016. Later Conduit noticed the substantial changes and informed our readers.[ii] Once aware of the changes many members of the Republican party were upset. In 2018 delegates proposed changes to put the original ten principles back in the platform.[iii] (See the list in the notes.[iv])
While the delegates made sure the ten original principles made it back into the platform, the party has been left with two sets of principles. The original ten are included in the platform and the 2016 list which is more wishy-washy and has omissions appears prior to the platform.[v]
RULE CHANGE STOPPED EARLIER THIS YEAR
Earlier this year the elites in the party tried to pass changes to the rules of the party to take away powers of county and district committees and to reduce them to being merely cheerleaders for all Republican candidates (even the worst RINO who only runs as a Republican because it is easier to get elected). Having been alerted to the change, Conduit then informed readers about the proposed rule change.[vi] Once Republican committee members became aware of what was going on, the outcry was enough to block the rule change. But… there was immediate discussion about revising the proposal and trying again.
What will their revised rules change proposal look like? Will delegates be able to spot small changes with significant impact? Remember even the deletion of a comma was so significant it brought a bill in the Arkansas legislature to a halt.
INSIST CHANGES BE SHOWN IN MARKUP
Nancy Pelosi said of the Obamacare bill, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Are you content to adopt the Nancy Pelosi model and pass a new platform and rules without being certain about changes being made?
We hope the state party is already working on having their proposed changes in markup format so there is not another 2016 type embarrassment. If not, Conduit will try to spot changes for our readers and if time allows work to prepare a markup that can be studied by delegates and committee members. But Conduit is not affiliated with the party and the markup should really be done by the party.
We hope the party will also have staff available to delegates to quickly prepare markups for amendments proposed by delegates.
SHORT TIME TO REVIEW
The state convention is July 23, 2022, which is less than a month away. As of the time this article was written it appears the proposed platform and rules have yet to be received by county committees.
[i] We looked at legislation on the Arkansas General Assembly website and saw that the official versions of bills were in markup form beginning with the 1997 regular session.
[iv] The ten principles of the Republican Party of Arkansas as found in the party platform itself.
- The power of faith in God Almighty
- The sanctity of life
- Individual responsibility and initiative
- Individual freedom and liberty secured by a limited government
- Private property
- Lower taxes to produce economic growth
- Strong national defense
- The personal right to own and bear arms
- The equal and just enforcement of the law
- Separate and equal branches of government