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A little history of the Montana Democrats Platform

The state convention meets on July 29 and 30 in Butte.

Every four years, Democrats from across the country join together to craft our party’s platform. The platform is created to uplift working people and write out the values that will guide our party for years to come.

It starts in at the county level, where local Democratic voters gather at the annual County convention to review and propose amendments to the platform. Next, central committee delegates, elected democratic legislators and candidates meet at the state convention to review proposals from all the counties to write the state party platform. And finally, state delegates proceed to the national party convention to refine the Democratic Party platform.

The ideas discussed at county and the subsequent state platform remain important as a declaration and guidepost for how we seek to build community and legislate Montana, even though the national platform may ultimately differ in some ways.

In 2014, a thorough review was taken of the existing, unwieldy and largely unread platform. It exceeded 100 pages and anyone still reading by the time they got to the planks late in the alphabet was weary, irritated, and muddled. Because there were so many different authors, the document lacked the sense of unity and coherence that a platform should have.

Since the adoption of the new format that year, the time between submission of proposals was used to make suggestions for stylistic changes to the amendments to ensure that the platform continues to have that single, unified “voice.” without weighing in on the substance of proposed amendments. The substance the platform and proposed amendments is left to county delegates to defend to the appropriate committee, and ultimately the convention. 

In the 2014 review and revision, the platform committee set out to create a different format that would place lofty, compelling “belief statements” as an overview for each plank at the beginning of the document. Each plank statement is limited to 75 words so that planks later in the alphabet could still get a reader’s attention as we appeal to a broad audience to embrace the Montana Democratic Party’s philosophy, and to able to print these belief statements on a single piece of paper, duplexed, to distribute at county fairs and the like.

The result of the 2014 revision reduced what had been a 100+ page document to 18 pages. The platform is now 25 pages as we head into the convention at the end of this month, so one of the considerations will include looking at the position statements and the action agendas to see if all issues are still issues and editing out repetition. 

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