I have one guiding maxim in my understanding and evaluation of politics – ideas matter. Politics in its simplest form is ideas applied. In political science this is called “praxis” – defined as “the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realized.” How should you vote? Identify the candidate’s fundamental ideas. Evaluate the candidate’s worldview. What policies will work? Figure out the underlying ideas, the assumptions they are based upon, and if these assumptions are true.

The clearest embodiment of the political ideas of each party is its platform. In the lead up to the Convention, a group of GOP delegates begin work today on the platform for 2016 – the ideas established by the party to guide the actions of all GOP candidates and elected officials from the top of slate (president and VP) to the state and local level.

If you are wondering who to vote for or how to wade through the political rhetoric, the 2012 GOP “We Believe in America” platform is a great starting place – hailed at its adoption four years ago by many as “the most conservative platform in modern history.”

Over the next couple days, I’ll be highlighting tidbits and passages from the 2012 platform, to remind us of the ideas that animate the Republican Party. For warm-up, you can read the 62-page document here.