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What Republicans believe

The platform of the Republican Party of Minnesota, which will be finalized today or tomorrow, starts with some general, relatively non-controversial statements. But then it gets interesting.
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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).

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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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.