On October 23rd, three days before the start of early voting and less than two weeks before Election Day, a flyer detailing the official Republican Party platform for the 2019 Election season began arriving in residents’ mailboxes.
The Democratic Party platform was released one month earlier, on September 23rd.
Unsurprisingly, the Republican Party has continued to lift a huge piece of their platform from the Democratic platform, with the remainder of the platform consisting of vague platitudes, redundant suggestions, and even the occasional bad idea.
The flyer marked the first time that the Republican Party has released a platform since releasing a vague set of values called a “platform” in 2018.
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before
As detailed in a previous Geneva Believer story, the 2019 Democratic Party Platform includes the following main issues and objectives:
- Rezoning Lakefront Park to protect it from development
- Reducing Seneca Lake pollution by cooperating with nearby communities
- Ensuring the scheduled closure of two local mega-landfills
- Promoting sustainable, “clean” economic development
- Creating jobs that pay a living wage
- Moving the Finger Lakes Railway yard
- Promoting clean, safe, and affordable housing, especially for retirees and renters
- Supporting more affordable day care, pre-school, summer programs
- Improving public transportation
- Addressing the food desert in Wards 5 and 6
- Enhance police/community relations
- Support victims of hate-based violence and domestic abuse
- Protect financial stability by improving efficiency of city operations, finding new revenue sources, and increasing partnerships with neighboring communities and non-profits.
Let’s see how the brand-new, last-minute, after-all-the-issues-have-been-discussed-during-election-season Republican Party Platform stacks up:
So what did the Republicans come up with for their final, last-minute platform?
- Problem properties (stolen from the Democrats)
- Closing the landfills (stolen from the Democrats)
- Cutting the budget to reduce taxes (stolen from the Democrats)
- Getting people working (stolen from the Democrats)
- Deploy resources for affordable childcare (stolen from the Democrats)
- Protect the lakefront (stolen from the Democrats)
- Expand accessibility and inclusiveness (too vague to be meaningful)
- Have monthly Foundry updates “visually shown” (too vague to be meaningful)
- Move public comment to beginning of Council meetings (original, not part of Democratic platform)
- Ensure accessibility of public officials (too vague to be meaningful)
- City Manager hosting quarterly town hall meetings (original but a waste of time and money with an already transparent and accessible City Manager)
- Support and improve commitment to public safety (too vague to be meaningful)
- Fair share of county services (stolen from Democrats)
- Bring back and upgrade playgrounds (too vague to be meaningful, playground upgrades already underway)
So the final count is:
- 7 ideas stolen from the Democratic Party platform
- 5 ideas too vague to be meaningful
- 2 original ideas (one to fix the public comment problem Mayor Ron Alcock created, and one that would be a waste of time and money).
Why Platforms Matter
In a city the size of Geneva, there are only so many election year issues to go around.
In the natural course of things, there will be similarities between the two platforms, and even some common views on how to address the issues.
But what’s happening here has nothing to do with similarities and commonalities.
The Democratic Party took a long time to release their platform. The list of all 18 candidates from both parties was first released by Geneva Believer on April 10th. Some candidates started campaigning in April and May. The Democrats didn’t release their platform until very late in the campaign season: September 23rd, only about six weeks before election day.
Once election season went into full swing in September and October, with candidates holding events, canvassing, and doing interviews and forums, the Republicans plugged along without a meaningful platform.
By mid-October, the Republican candidates were largely mirroring the issues and positions laid out in the Democratic Party’s platform. And when there was less than two weeks to go before the election, they finally released a platform filled with stolen ideas, vague ideas, and bad ideas.
This wasn’t an accident. There is a city council election every four years, and the Republican Party is known for being organized and strategic.
Instead of providing a bold and unique set of ideas for the people of Geneva, the Republican Party instead waited to hear what the Democrats were saying and what the people were saying, and then shaped their platform according to what they thought people wanted to hear and what would help them win in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two-to-one (and even outnumber Republicans and no party voters combined).
The Republican Party has little shot at winning any seats if they are forthright and honest about the differences between their party and the Democrats.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Democratic candidates would make better councilors than the Republicans.
It means that the Republicans care more about winning than they do about being honest, upholding their values and priorities, and offering something thoughtful, meaningful and unique to the voters of Geneva.