Though the tea party-driven outcomes in Utah and West Virginia have received more column inches and punditry, quite an earthquake hit at the Maine Republican Party convention with the introduction of a new party platform.
Whether or not this idea benefits either the tea party movement or Maine Republicans remains to be seen, but the candidates for governor are for the most part distancing themselves from the document. This is not surprising when you consider the Ron Paul-inspired contents:
GOP candidates, who were asked whether they support the platform, generally chose to point to their own priorities instead. None accepted a challenge by state Democratic campaign chair Arden Manning to reject the document.
Senator Olympia Snowe dismissed the document out of hand, saying she thought no one ever adopted an entire party platform en masse. GOP attorney Dan Billings commented:
Party platforms are historical artifacts. It used to be that conventions picked candidates so what the convention said the party stood for was fairly important. Platforms were printed and discussed. Candidates, more or less, ran on the platform. That system ended when the primary system was adopted. Conventions no longer define the parties — primaries do. We should stop adopting a platform. It does no good and can do great harm.
A commenter on As Maine Goes addressed the document’s focus on ideology rather than actual Maine issues:
Who are the authors and what is their interest in Maine politics? The Ron Paulist laundry list does not include either state or national issues that have been important in Maine for years: environmentalism versus land rights and the economy, and the high taxes and abuse of civil rights by both MRS and IRS.
Kenneth Lindell of the Maine Republican Liberty Caucus harshly critiqued the platform:
Even more troubling is that while the document loudly calls for a return to “constitutional government” it also espouses implementation of unconstitutional policies such as congressional term limits, stripping Congress of the ability to set its own pay and narrowing the First Amendment by stripping individuals of their freedom not to worship god.
The biggest problem is that it is poorly presented and uncleanly written. Grassroots activists are rarely the book worms and writers of prose in the crowd. They are not the folks trained in critical thinking and producing documents meant for public dissemination. Just as the mobs of the French revolution executed the innocent and the guilty without distinction. The activists of the GOP platform revolution have overthrown an old regime that needed to be overthrown but replaced it with a product that is in desperate need of revision itself.
Others are less diplomatic and refer to it as “political suicide”:
I believe that there are provisions in there that will scare off many independents who you need to win elections. … It will make it very difficult for the majority of Republicans to win.
The authors of the document do not claim membership in the tea party movement, but attended tea party events:
Mr. Dyer says he and his co-authors aren’t members of the tea party, although some have attended such events. They were motivated by disappointment with the party’s “progressive” wing, which had “forgotten what it means to be a Republican,” he says.
There were claims of “thuggery” and undemocratic behavior at the convention. Many attendees did not get to read the platform before it was passed due to insufficient copies and a hurried discussion.
Though the document was not in line with general tea party concerns, it could sully the movement should Republican candidates suffer from it. We shall see if this revolutionary document is an albatross around the neck of Maine Republicans, or just a misstep in a long campaign with little relevance to the final tally.