A romp through convention platforms past

An excerpt from the Democratic Party platform of 1972:

We hold that the federal tax structure should reflect the following principles:

The cost of government must be distributed more fairly among income classes. We reaffirm the long-established principle of progressive taxation —allocating the burden according to ability to pay —which is all but a dead letter in the present tax code.

The cost of government must be distributed fairly among citizens in similar economic circumstances:

Direct expenditures by the federal government which can be budgeted are better than tax preferences as the means for achieving public objectives. The lost income of those tax preferences which are deemed desirable should be stated in the annual budget.

When relief for hardship is provided through federal tax policy, as for blindness, old age or poverty, benefits should be provided equally by credit rather than deductions which favor recipients with more income, with special provisions for those whose credits would exceed the tax they owe.

Provisions which discriminate against working women and single people should be corrected in addition to greater fairness and efficiency, these principles would mean a major redistribution of personal tax burdens and permit considerable simplification of the tax code and tax forms.

Twenty years later, the party that nominated William Jefferson Clinton:

We reject both the do-nothing government of the last twelve years and the big government theory that says we can hamstring business and tax and spend our way to prosperity. Instead we offer a third way. Just as we have always viewed working men and women as the bedrock of our economy, we honor business as a noble endeavor, and vow to create a far better climate for firms and independent contractors of all sizes that empower their workers, revolutionize their workplaces, respect the environment, and serve their communities well.

In a story published in 2012, Marc Fisher noted the consistency with which the GOP has moved towards “ever more conservative stances” on the economy and social questions while the Democrats have followed a, well, “a more jagged series of experiments with activist and statist approaches,” he writes, in which riffs on family, God, and free enterprise ring as nervously and reassuringly as a power chord in a One Direction song.

The GOP’s gonna be doing some awful zagging this year to accommodate the nominee whom we all know even Ross Douthat will embrace by the Fourth of July. Whatever else has happened since the GOP fooled itself into thinking it had principles, the Dems will coalesce around a platform that will look, oh, about sixty percent different from the time Hillary Clinton’s husband decided that adopting conservative positions would get him reelected. For the first time since I became old enough to vote, I am reasonably comfortable with voting for a Democrat.

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