In Cleveland, some delegates on the Republican Party’s platform committee reported that a pro-LGBT group tried to hijack a proposal to return the party to conservative principles.
Boyd Matheson, former chief of staff to Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), has worked closely with conservative intellectuals like Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn and historian David Barton to draft and advocate a platform for the GOP that aims to restate the basic principles of conservatism.
However, The American Unity Fund, a group bankrolled by billionaire LGBT activists like Paul Singer, tried hijacking this proposal and using it for their own agenda.
“It’s one of the filthiest things I’ve ever seen in politics,” Maryland delegate Ben Marci told The Daily Signal.
Apparently, delegates working for the American Unity Fund tried drumming up support for Matheson’s proposal in an attempt to have a floor debate on the GOP’s social agenda during the convention itself.
Delegates who support Matheson but oppose Singer’s group claim that delegates aligned with the American Unity Fund lied to them to get their support for pushing an LGBT agenda during the national convention.
“We are denouncing this effort for what it is: a desperate and divisive attempt to advance a personal agenda at the expense of the over 100 delegates who have spent hours crafting the platform for 2016,” Barton wrote with Matheson in an email.
Indeed, in many ways, the AUF’s hijacking represents the opposite of what Matheson sought to accomplish. Rather than return the party to its roots, the AUF wanted to take the party in a more progressive direction, away from the intentions of its founders.
“Platforms should not be about details,” Matheson and Arnn argued in a Washington Examiner op-ed. “They should be about principles and broad lines of policy. The details will be worked out in due course between the President and Congress, as is right and good. The platform supplies a direction, not a specific route.”
The draft approved by the platform committee often wades into the minutiae of policy, addressing everything from the consequences of an EMP attack to the definition of junk food and the use of food stamps to buy candy.
Matheson’s proposal, on the other hand, aimed to revive the spirit of the Republican Party’s original 1856 platform that helped Abraham Lincoln win the presidency.
Matheson wrote in the draft, “The platform on which Abraham Lincoln ran for president in 1860 was brief and clear, speaking directly to the American people about the principles of the nation and the choices before them. It united the party around the core principles and a few policies to which they were dedicated.”
A short, concise, and eloquent statement of principles also has another advantage over a more standard policy platform: people will actually read it.
“A platform, to have power, must be read. And not just by those of us here. If we are going to be the party of working families, then we should offer a platform every American can read in a single sitting. If our millennials can do it in 140 characters certainly we can do better than 30,000 words,” Matheson said in a speech before the platform committee.
“Let’s define those principles, and lay them out for the country. Rather than trying to hash out every specific policy detail, let’s go back to identifying and then powerfully communicating the things that unite us,” Matheson concluded in his speech.
Certainly, Matheson and his supporters did not intend for their bill to be hijacked by those who oppose one of conservatism’s most basic principles — the sanctity of the family.
“There was nothing in the Platform of Principles that even remotely relates to the LGBT agenda. Rather it supports the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, limited government, restrained judiciary, unborn life and traditional family, economic freedom, a strong military, and many other key issues on which we all agree – core principles which are also incorporated into the adopted platform,” Matheson wrote in an email to his supporters.
The 1856 platform, to which Matheson looked for a model, even included language in defense of traditional marriage.
“It is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism–Polygamy, and Slavery,” the founders of the party wrote.
Though Matheson’s stand for principle may have failed this time, there is still great opportunity for future conservative statesmen to carry on where he left off, provided they guard against the small but vocal minority of LGBT activists who have infiltrated the party.
Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.