Platforms, Frameworks, and Politics


Political parties codify their frameworks in what are called platforms, e.g. the Platforms of the Democratic and Republican Parties. In software vocabulary (cf. Framework vs. Platform), the Platform of a party is more of a framework — an operating set of principles that guide the politician — whereas a platform in a political context would be the infrastructure — committees, conventions, primaries, … — supporting the operation of the party.

There is one point of view, that “the focus ought to be on individuals, not parties, and on their character more than the specifics of what they say they will do once elected” (What Would a Stoic Do? Presidential candidates). If that is a “Stoic” view, then an “anti-Stoic” (which could be Codicalist or Pragmatist) view would be the opposite: The focus should firstly be on the Platform (framework) of the party and secondly on the character of the politician.

Some use the term “ideology” in a disparaging, negative way to denigrate politicians who identify with a Platform. But if an ideology is seen in a positive way as a framework, then a politician without an ideology is a person without principles to operate within the context of, and that should be viewed in a negative way.

When one actually reads the entire Platforms, one should get a very good sense of the moorings of the politician who adopts the party he/she is representing. It’s true each politician once in power will make adjustments and deviations from the Platform — in the face of new facts and the need to compromise for practical reasons (as programmers can do to override some features of software frameworks: “extensibility – A framework can be extended by the user usually by selective overriding or specialized by user code to provide specific functionality”) — but the Platform should tell you what’s primarily important about the character of the person who identifies with that party.

For example, if you read the Republican Party Platform and come away disgusted* at its moral deficiency, there should be no reason for you to vote for a Republican politician, no matter what their so-called “character” is presented to be, because they have adopted a party with that Platform as its codical framework. There are those who say Platforms don’t matter. But they really do, in the end, tell you a lot about how the politician will vote or govern in office.

Frameworks (political Platforms) matter.


* “Incompetence obscures the real issue. Conservatism itself is the villain that is harming our people, destroying our environment, and weakening our nation. Conservatives are undermining American values through legislation almost every day. This message applies to every conservative bill proposed to Congress. The issue that arises every day is which philosophy of governing should shape our country. It is the issue of our times. Unless conservative philosophy itself is discredited, Conservatives will continue their domination of public discourse, and with it, will continue their domination of politics.”

by George Lakoff (2006). Still applies today. Replace George Bush with any potential Republican 2016 nominee.


Philip Thrift


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