I'm not sure that party platforms are all that important since the candidates don't necessarily follow them. The platforms, however, do give us some insight into what each party's insiders believe should be the direction of the party.
For example, the Democrat and Republican attitudes towards coal and climate change are clearly delineated in their recently-created platforms. According to the Guardian, the Democratic platform, with pressure from Sanders' supporters, took a strong position on climate change:
Hillary Clinton could campaign much more aggressively against climate change than any US presidential candidate before her, under a draft platform adopted by Democratic party leaders.
The leaders committed the presumptive Democratic nominee to a carbon tax, a climate test for future pipelines and tighter rules on fracking – all stronger positions than those held by Clinton herself at the start of the race.
The Republicans went in the opposite direction.
On the heels of the Democratic party working out their strongest-ever position on climate change, the Republicans opted for a hardline stance in the opposite direction Tuesday. At a policy meeting in advance of next week’s Republican National Convention, the RNC unanimously approved this position on coal: “It’s an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable, domestic energy resource.”
(It ought to be noted that the Republican platform committee had, according to Slate, a number of members who are climate change deniers.)
On social issues, the differences are just as stark. For example, while the Democratic platform had nothing to say about pornography, the Republican platform called it “a public health crisis” and a “public menace” that is destroying lives. As Yahoo! News quoted from the document:
“Pornography, with his harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and wellbeing,” the amendment stated.
(Note -- "his harmful effects" and "life" are in the original amendment.)
The amendment on pornography fits nicely with Republican platform's social agenda which, as the New York Times reported, is even more conservative than Trump's stated positions:
And what Republicans will probably end up with when they formally vote next week to ratify the platform approved in committee on Tuesday is a text that can seem almost Victorian in its moralizing and deeply critical of how the modern American family has evolved.
The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”
It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.”
While the Times article is interesting, I have to wonder whether Trump will pay any attention to the platform. He certainly doesn't follow any stated policy position (including his own) in his campaign appearances preferring to make it up as he goes.
Finally, in light of Trump's unpredictability, it will be interesting to see if our local "newspapers" mention the Republican platform at all. (They haven't so far.) While I believe they would agree with everything in the Republican platform (especially the coal/climate change provisions), my hunch is that they'll stick to what they've been doing for most of the campaign -- bashing Clinton on a daily basis. (Chalk up another editorial today.)