Forget John Grisham and Stephen King: if you want some good beach reading this Labor Day weekend, break out a copy of the official Republican party platform, which was ratified yesterday in Tampa. (The Democratic platform may be equally entertaining, but unfortunately, it won't be available until next week.)
Among the many positions that the GOP takes in the document are several that affect transportation and, ultimately, drivers. For example, under "Infrastructure", Republicans attack Democrats for their focus on urban development and for continued support of Amtrak. Then toward the end, there's this: "We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation."
That particular sentence is something of a non-sequitur, but it comes in the middle of a paragraph about shoring up America's highways and transportation infrastructure, which leads us to believe that it refers to the way in which those infrastructure projects are funded. So while it's possible that the GOP may be railing against black box recorders or insurance tracking programs or vehicle-to-vehicle technology, it's more likely that the GOP is simply saying that it wants to stick with the existing gas tax, rather than any of the pay-as-you-drive tax plans that have occasionally been discussed in legislatures and public forums.
(Whether the GOP would agree to increases in the gas tax -- which is dramatically lower in America than in many other developed countries -- is matter for debate.)
Also of note: in the paragraph just above that, the GOP platform praises the surface transportation bill that was recently approved by Congress. It then calls for "reform of the 42-year old National Environmental Policy Act to create regulatory certainty for infrastructure projects, expedite their timetables, and limit litigation against them." That's not too surprising, coming from a party that tends to prioritize deregulation and caps for punitive damages awarded by courts. However, it's sure to fire up more than a few environmentalists.
What's missing from the GOP platform is a plan to repair and improve the nation's infrastructure. Then again, that's a very, very big problem -- perhaps too big to be addressed in a document as streamlined and ideological as a party platform. We'll see if the Democrats have anything to add when their platform is ratified in North Carolina next week.