Trump actually does have a campaign platform — but Republicans know voters will hate it: Ex-Bush speechwriter
President Donald Trump appears during a rally Dec. 10, 2019. (Matt Smith Photographer/

The Republican Party agreed not to produce a platform for its 2020 convention, but conservative David Frum says they're just afraid to show voters their priorities.

The former speechwriter for George W. Bush laid out the GOP's shadow platform in a new column for The Atlantic, arguing that party leaders know voters would recoil from their positions -- and President Donald Trump's impulsive leadership kept Republican National Convention planners from rolling out some version of those policies.

"The location, the speaking program, the arrangements — all were decided at the last minute," Frum wrote. "Managing the roll-out of a platform, as well, was just one task too many."

Frum listed 13 ideas that are almost universally agreed upon within the Trump administration and across the Republican Party and among Fox News viewers.

"I think you’ll agree that these are authentic ideas with meaningful policy consequences, and that they are broadly shared," he wrote. "The question is not why Republicans lack a coherent platform, it’s why they’re so reluctant to publish the one on which they’re running."

That list includes an obsession with tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest Americans; stringent denial of coronavirus dangers, climate change and anti-Black racism; antagonism toward China and the European Union and the reassessment of global alliances; antipathy toward immigrants, voting rights, the sexual privacy of women, post-Watergate ethics reforms and civil decency, in general; and the further empowerment of police.

"The platform I’ve just described, like so much of the Trump-Republican program, commands support only among a minority of the American people," Frum wrote. "The platform works (to the extent it does work) by exciting enthusiastic support among Trump supporters; but stated too explicitly, it invites a backlash among the American majority. This is a platform for a party that talks to itself, not to the rest of the country."

That platform will be communicated during this week's Republican National Convention, according to Frum, but through coded messaging aimed at Fox News viewers and true believers -- unless Trump says the quiet part out loud.

"The challenge for Republicans in the week ahead is to hope that President Trump can remember, night after night, to speak only the things he’s supposed to speak — not to blurt the things his party wants its supporters to absorb unspoken," Frum wrote.