Every four years, at their presidential nominating conventions, the Republican and Democratic Parties write their official platforms.  (Apparently one Web site has the text of past platforms going back to 1840.)

You can read them yourself, but they are not simple lists of concise statements of the parties’ positions; they’re full of background, findings of fact, and other long-winded attempts to frame the issues in their favor, present their positions in a way that makes them sound reasonable, and persuade the reader to agree with them.  Fair enough, and perhaps that’s inevitable, but the result is that the 2012 Republican Party platform (in PDF form) is some 60 pages long, the Democrats40.  As Speaker John Boehner has remarked, “If it were up to me, I’d have the platform on one sheet of paper.  Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform?  I’ve never met anybody.”

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