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What Republicans believe

The platform of the Republican Party of Minnesota, which will be finalized later today or tomorrow, starts with some general, relatively non-controversial statements, like these:

"As Republicans, we believe in...

"Promoting Economic Prosperity, Preserving Civil Rights, Educating our Children, Strengthening our Families and Communities, Protecting Public Safety, Strengthening the Rule of Law, Enjoying and Protecting our Natural Resources, Making Government Smaller and Better, Defending America at Home and Abroad."

But when the details are spelled out, it gets a bit more interesting. For example, under defending America at home and abroad, the GOP favors pulling the U.S. out of the United Nations and continuing to prevent gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces (by preserving the existing "don't ask, don't tell" policy that the military is currently considering dropping).

Three other ideas for defending America endorsed by the platform are making English the official language of the United States, ending the practice of providing state forms in languages other than English and ending the law that gives automatic U.S. citizenship to any child born here (aimed at the children of illegal aliens).

Promoting prosperity means, mostly, cutting taxes and cutting government spending (although the magnitude of the tax cuts that are specified far exceeds the magnitude of the spending cuts).

For example: "Republicans seek to reduce the current burden of taxation by cutting or eliminating capital gains taxes, taxes on marriage, sickness, death, inheritance, Social Security and veterans’ benefits and pensions." (It's interesting that taxes on death and taxes on inheritance are specified separately, since Republicans use the phrase "death tax" to refer to the tax on the inheritance of large estates. The "marriage tax" has already been eliminated. I'm not sure what the tax on "sickness" is, but it can't be a specific reference to ObamaCare because the language is carried over from the previous platform.)

There is one new plank the clearly is about the new health care bill in the proposed platform (again, I am writing this post out of the proposed 2010 platform, that has not been adopted yet). It goes like this:

"We support a freedom of choice in health care amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, including the freedom not to purchase health insurance and the freedom to pay directly for medical care."

This is a clear reference to the "individual mandate" included in the new law, which requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Such an amendment, if adopted, would either exempt Minnesotans from that requirement or set up a clash of state and federal law. The issue of whether the individual mandate violates the U.S. Constitution is already before the courts.

To prevent what the platform calls "the ability of Congress and the Legislature to use tax increases as the first solution to every problem," the GOP platform seeks new rules that would require a supermajority for any tax increases. The platform also recommends a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a state constitutional amendment that would cap the annual growth of state spending at the rate of inflation and population growth. The platform embraces Gov. Tim Pawlenty's advocacy of an amendment that would limit the spending in each biennium to the amount of revenues collected in the previous biennium.

On the savings side, the Republicans specify that no state tax dollars should be spent to support the arts, public broadcasting nor the construction of sports stadia. Also no use of gas tax dollars for light rail or commuter rail.

Civil rights

The reference to civil rights in the opening statement turns out to be substantially about what the platform calls the right to life, or what others call limitations on the right of women to choose abortions.

The GOP platform calls for a federal and state constitutional amendment:

"Republicans believe that every innocent human being, born and unborn has an inalienable right to life from conception to natural death. Any policy or law that attacks that belief is wrong and should be opposed. The U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions should be amended to restore legal protection to the lives of innocent human beings from conception to natural death. To that end, members of the Minnesota House and Senate should introduce and support legislation defining conception as: 'when the DNA of Mankind is joined.' We should also urge them to introduce and support ‘right to life’ legislation that establishes ‘personhood’ at the time of conception. We oppose partial birth abortions and we should eliminate forced taxpayer funding of abortion or abortion providers and abortions performed on minors without parental consent."

There is already a law against public funds being used for abortions, and a new executive order reaffirming that in the context of the new health care bill, but some Republicans believe public money is still implicated in abortion.

The platform also says that the father should have the right to veto a decision of the mother to "terminate his child's developing life."

Another area of civil rights turns out to be the right to "public[ly] display the Ten Commandments and the right to prayer at government events in the name of a specific deity."

Also under civil rights, the platform seeks to protect Minnesotans from being forced to join unions by turning Minnesota into what's called a "right to work" state. In right to work states, there can be no "closed shops" where the contract requires all non-management workers to be covered by a union contract.

In the education section, the GOP platform says that every classroom should be required to display an American flag, every class to pledge allegiance to it every day and "all history classes should include information about the important role religion played in our Nation’s founding including study of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and other original sources."

Teachers who discuss "creation science" should be protected from disciplinary action and "science standards should recognize that there is controversy pertaining to the theory of evolution."

Schools should also not promote acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism.

Teachers should be "paid based on performance."

The federal Education Department should be eliminated. The No Child Left Behind law should be eliminated or Minnesota should opt out of it. (Yes, that was President George W. Bush's big education accomplishment.)

The section on strengthening families and communities

The U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions shouild define marriage as unions between one man and one woman. Republicans also oppose granting rights to gay couples by declaring their partnerships to be "civil unions."

The section on strengthening the rule of law

The GOP platform does not like most of the current ideas for changing the way judges are elected. Instead, Minnesota should drop the practice of indicating on the ballot which candidate for a judicial office is the incumbent. This clearly is intended to level the playing field for challengers.

There is a proposed new provision to the platform that says simply:

"We seek to deny all state funds to ACORN, its derivatives and its affiliates."

Under "Protect and Develop our Natural Resources," the GOP platform calls for ending all government subsidies of ethanol or other alternative energy sources.

Under "Make Government Smaller and Better," the platform recommends eliminating the Met Council, stopping all stimulus spending, ending the TARP program, amending the U.S. Constitution to give the president a line-item veto, imposing term limits for all elected officials, doing away with pensions for members of Congress (I take it that's an additional disincentive for them to stay too long) and removing all limitations on campaign donations.

For Minnesota election, the GOP doesn't like the spread of Instant Runoff Voting (aka Ranked Choice voting, now the way municipal elections are conducted in Minneapolis and St. Paul), wants to do away with same-day registration for new voters and wants to require photo IDs for all voters.

A full copy of the existing platform left over from 2010 and the changes proposed for 2010 is available in pdf here.

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Comments (26)

"I'm not sure what the tax on "sickness" is, but it can't be a specific reference to ObamaCare because the language is carried over from the previous platform." Might that be the 2% MinnesotaCare Tax?

Re the party's position against Instant Runoff Voting (Ranked Choice Voting), the platform language describes RCV as violating the constitutional principle of one person - one vote. This belief was resoundingly refuted in a unanimous MN Supreme Court decision in June, 2009, authored by Chief Justice Magnuson. "Every voter has the same opportunity to rank candidates when she casts her ballot, and in each round every voter’s vote carries the same value."

Eric, the "law" you cite giving automatic citizenship to any child born here is actually the U.S. constitution. It would take a constitutional amendment to change this, not merely "ending a law."

The 14th Amendment:

1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So let me get this straight. Is there any gov't position Annette Meeks is in (Met Council) or seeks (Lt. Gov) that isn't supposed to be abolished?

Scary vision. Scary ideas.

Our poor constitutions probably wouldn't survive one term at either the state or federal levels should they get a chance to apply their theories.

Regarding "other ideas for defending America endorsed by the platform are ... ending the law that gives automatic U.S. citizenship to any child born here (aimed at the children of illegal aliens)."

This isn't new to this year's platform, and many platform planks receive little practical attention. But it's radical stuff and should not be minimized. The "law" in question is fundamental. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (one of the three Civil War Amendments that, among other beneficial effects, abolished slavery and protected the rights of ex-slaves) provides: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Is the Republican Party of Minnesota calling for a new constitutional amendment to repeal the Fourteenth? Would any significant portion of the general public ever support that?

"Under "Protect and Develop our Natural Resources," the GOP platform calls for ending all government subsidies of ethanol or other alternative energy sources."

Is that new? If so, did they just kill their chances in rural MN?

To John Reinan:
Your comment got posted while I was drafting mine, so I didn't see it until too late to prevent repetition.

I love party platforms: "make a wish" lists.

How about a commentary on the DFL party platform? It would likely provide just as much fun...

I see that, as usual, they've got plenty of gay-bashing in their platform. I'll bet that makes them feel better about themselves.

What is E-85?

Gotta agree with John, though to be fair, Eric was off last week during the DFL convo. But Eric, it would be a good follow-up.

Spill baby, spill!

I wonder if cuts to government programs and government regulations would include cutting the dozen or more federal agencies currently mobilizing to address the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, without whose efforts, resources and expertise the evironmental and economic disaster would be magnified enormously.

I wonder if cuts to government regulations would include repeal of environmetal and safety rules intended to prevent such deadly fires and spills or repeal of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act which gave government (and tax payers) at least some legal recourse to try and recoup the costs of such government activities from the company involved.

Private industry seems neither willing nor able to either prevent this kind of disaster nor to contain it once it happens. The costs of encouraging prevention and the costs of mitigation efforts once it has occurred are largely socialized, while the profits remain largely privatized. Forcing each company to carry the resources to respond to such events would be neither cost-effective nor reliable, yet government spending to achieve the same result is somehow abhorant and threatens our 'liberty'.

Paying substantially less for government means getting less government. Less government in this instance would mean more spilled oil destroying more coastline life and livelihoods.

Minimal federal government is all fun and games until someone's eye gets poked out.

In today's world, believing that your eye will never be in danger or need of assistance or that you will be able to handle it all on your own without cost or impact on those around you is increasingly shortsighted and in the long run too costly for everyone.

It would appear that there is plenty of middle ground in between the GOP and the DFL platforms (wish lists) for a moderate Independent candidate to take advantage of.

I find myself putting pluses (agree) by some issues, and minuses (disagree) by others. The minuses would sink this platform in my voting booth. However, I would like to see the same review (as stated by others) of the Democratic platform. I might run out of misuses. Then there is the Independent Party. More minuses? What will I do? It's always about priorities and weighing the pluses and minuses for me.

Glad to have Black back! I can hardly wait for an article on the adopted platform and perhaps a comparison of the DFL and GOP platforms. And does the Independence Party have a platform? Again,thanks to and for Eric Black.

I don't find their platform to be especially bizarre even if I don't agree with it. Ziad Munson in how social movement mobilization works states that unintended (or accidental) activists emerge from their ordinary lives.

dan, if you had grown up in this state in the 50s-70s, you would recognize this platform as the polar opposite of what once made Minnesota one of the highest ranked states in education, environmental protection and overall quality of life. This GOP platform could have been written by the most conservative Deep South thinkers of a bygone era, folks who lived in states with the worst schools, working conditions and poverty levels in the nation.

The Levanders, Andersens, and Stassens must be spinning like crazy. The fill-in-the-blank Independence Party must look awefully inviting to Real Minnesota Republicans.

I agree with those who suggest this could set us up for another real three way race. I hope pragmatists who have been shoved aside in both parties will be looking for someone other than Emmer on the far right and Kelliher or Dayton on the left. I guess I am one of the few who longs for progressive Republicans who worked across the aisle like Elmer Anderen, Al Quie, Arnie Carlson, Harold Levander and Dave Durenberger (despite his ethical lapses). Those in control of the GOP now would have no room in the tent for any of these.

Roy, we would probably be good neighbors but I find your latest statements a bit fatuous. I grew up in rural Minnesota in the 60'and 70's. And I doubt it is the "polar" opposite as that would be a 180 degree turnabout. When we observe things in nature or the human world we should strive to see things as they are and not as we wish them to be. These are the Real Republicans of the last 35 years or so. Of course Stassen would disavow that statement on the UN as that was one of his signature items. I agree the Independence party seems to be a fill in the blanks kind of thing. But Real Republicans as delegates spent time and money and this is what they came up with unless you believe in chimeras. Personally I believe in Unicorns. If you had bothered to look up the author I cited, his book is from the University of Chicago Press and you can read a review in the latest Books and Culture. No hard feelings. And I think people who listen to KQRS are a bit mean but they have a huge listnership as does Joe Souchery.

The Republican platform has been incoherent for many decades now. It’s not just a matter of perspective, it’s downright logically inconsistent. Championing freedom while trying to erase the twentieth century and all of its progress in civil rights. Demanding small government while expanding the police state and all the likely oppression that accompanies such a government. Championing “life” while demanding death penalties and military action as a matter of policy. One would assume that all this concern for innocent human life would require some degree of skepticism of military actions that always kill innocent people, or a demand to withdraw MN’s Guard from Iraq where civilian deaths outnumber enemy combatant deaths ten to one- but alas tis not to be. Claiming to defend the constitution while creating platforms that actually run contrary to the existing constitution.

The most hypocritical and bizarre plank on the platform however is the claim to defend freedom, promote small government, and protect privacy by criminalizing abortion, and pretending that fertilized eggs are entitled full protections offered by the bill of rights. This would this obliterate the right to privacy, the only way the state could extend such protections would be to surveil and monitor all the medical records of every woman of child bearing age in the country. Such a policy would essentially render every fertilized egg in the country a ward of the state since the assumption is that woman cannot be trusted protect this “life”. It would also criminalize most forms of birth control. Of course this concern for “life” ends the moment it leaves the womb, where it will have no guaranteed health care, education, or housing. And obviously the state has the right to force parenthood on people who are not emotionally, financially, or physically capable of caring for disabled babies and children. Yeah, that’s small government all right, because we all know the founding fathers didn’t believe in privacy. Privacy is a legal fiction created by the liberal 20th century courts.

I'm kind of amused by their dedication to "the right to prayer at government events in the name of a specific deity," because I'm doubting that they would support a public prayer to Allah at "government events."

Yes Julie, let's not forget the drive to protect religious freedom by establishing a theocracy. We're all for prayer in the schools until someone wants to post Buddha's Four Noble Truths on the school wall instead of the Ten Commandments, or an Imam shows up to lead the prayer before the football game. Of course we all know the founding fathers wanted this to be a Christian nation, they just forgot to mention it in the constitution, that bit about not establishing religion musta been a fluke that didn't get fixed in the re-write, you know how sloppy those guys were, no attention to detail at all.

And let's make sure that flag flies in the school rooms, at least until we secede from the union on account of all it socialism. True patriots secede, it makes so much more sense than voting.

Speaking of socialism, that puts us in a tough spot vis-a-vi all that innocent life we gotta protect- hard to do that without universal health care. I mean here you have all these fertilized eggs bouncing around in women's wombs without any prenatal care to speak of. I guess we can just toss some pregnant women in jail and kill two birds with one stone, make sure they don't have an abortion and give them some health care. A judge in Nevada already tried that.

As for the founding fathers, the Constitution framers were dealing with 13 states, where Pennslyvania and Rhode Island (if memory serves correctly) were the only ones without some form of established religion. The rest embraced one branch of christianity or another.

The problem was not that irreligion was to be embraced, but that federal intrusion into these states' practices and sometimes embedded principles was to be avoided.

It is only in recent years that a miniscule atheistic minority has pressed to outlaw all religious belief or practice from public life, with varying degrees of success.

//The problem was not that irreligion was to be embraced, but that federal intrusion into these states' practices and sometimes embedded principles was to be avoided.

It is only in recent years that a miniscule atheistic minority has pressed to outlaw all religious

Nice try John but you miss the mark. Obviously the constitution wasn't designed to establish and atheist nation, that doesn't mean it was designed to enforce or protect state sponsored religion, clearly it wasn't. As an atheist, not that I speak for all atheists, there is no movement to outlaw religion, any such movement would be clearly unconstitutional. The point is to restrict religious oppression. You're free to practice your religion, and I would defend that freedom with my life. You are not free to impose your religion on everyone else, the constitution makes that perfectly clear. For instance if you want to start you school day by saying a prayer, or say prayer before a football game, your perfectly free to do so. What you are not free to do is make everyone else pray with you. That doesn't make you a victim of oppression, it simply protects the people you live with from your religious oppression. The issue isn't how religious the founding fathers were, the issue is how religious the State is. Clearly the state was designed to be a secular not a religious institution, and that's worked for over 200 years. Religious people can live quite happily in a secular state, in fact more so. But they don't get to force their religion on anyone else.

Obviously you do not speak for all atheists, like the ones that don't even want a cross where someone might see it, regardless of the sentiments of the vast majority of their fellow citizens, or the clear intent of it.

So-called "secular states" are not what the founders had in mind: denial of the open practice of their faith, and expression of their linked beliefs in public display and discourse was a given. But funding favoritism (establishment) on the part of the federal government was blocked. Doubt it? Look at the Supreme Court building, which sticks in the craw of revisionists.

Still, if you think I will be content to hide in my home as Chinese Christians have to do for fear of "offending" you, you have another think coming. In the real world that's called persecution, and crusades have been fought over it.

I'll be glad to hear your diatribe against muslims who rule their countries by sharia, or nation states that arrest believers of any kind to enforce their atheist principles.