Tag Archives: Republican

We Need Two Parties (At Least)

I loved this op/ed by Thomas L. Friedman. The Republican party is full of contradictions and full of people who don’t really seem to fit in the same party. Worse, a certain type of Republican has begun to dominate caucuses (I think it’s because these types of people have particularly caustic personalities and ideas that the more reasonable Republicans don’t like to be around).

Friedman is saying the party needs an overhaul, and it does. There have got to be a lot of moderates looking at the Republicans right now thinking, “If this goes on too much longer, my votes are going to start leaning left instead of right.” You can tell me independents don’t matter or being an independent is a waste of time, but it’s often the independents that make majorities. And the more radical the Republicans get, the further away they’ll be pushing those majority-making independents.

It’ll be interesting to watch over the next ten years to see what happens to the Republican party. It’s not as if we have even remotely the same parties our country started out with, and it seems reasonable that our parties will continue to see significant changes.

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Contradictions in the Republican Party of Minnesota Platform

Particularly amusing (when you get past the idiocy and how frightening it is that people who come up with some of this stuff have a say over how our country is run) are all the contradictions (or what appear to be contradictions to me) in the Republican Party of Minnesota’s platform.

Contradition #1: gifted and talented education:

Minnesota should devote the same amount of effort to education gifted and talented students as it currently devotes to special education.

But:

there should be no state and federal support of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and the adoption of IB by local school districts.

Obviously, IB is not synonymous with gifted and talented education, but it seems funny that they first say the schools should “devote the same amount of effort” to g&e as to special ed and then go on to explicitly prohibit funding a particular program for gifted and talented students. This may have something to do with the IB program specifically – I honestly don’t know. It just seems a bit contradictory.

#2: More Education Stuff:

Minnesota should have a well-rounded knowledge-based curriculum to prepare our students to be good citizens, with an emphasis on hard work, honesty, home and family… This would be ensured by a statewide testing system on basic academic skills, as well as rigorous standards for math, science and other core curricula.

But later:

Specifically, educators 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.

We believe that K-12 school teachers should not initiate discussion, teach lessons or provide resources to students on the topic of family structure, human sexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism. Instead, we should require that K-12 public school teachers teach about sexual abstinence, that premarital sex and extramarital sex is wrong, and that the use of contraceptives is not safe sex.

What happened to knowledge-based? The “controversy” surrounding evolution is not scientifically based, it’s societal. In other words, it should not be the job of science teachers to teach the controversy, but rather the job of social studies teachers. As for the second part I mentioned, they seem to be against teaching morals in the classroom unless those morals are evangelical Christian morals.

Knowledge-based education would educate students about things that have been studied or researched. For example, what we know about human sexuality and family structure should be taught in the appropriate classes (health or psychology, probably). The effects of single-parent, traditional heterosexual parent, and other types of households have been studied. Facts from these studies can and should be taught. Homosexuality and bisexuality fall under the broader term human sexuality, and there are a number of facts that could be taught to students without necessarily forcing value judgements. There are also facts about transgenderism that could be taught without forcing value judgements (not sure if transgenderism also falls under human sexuality exactly, also do people actually use the term “transgenderism”??). Last time I checked, public schools in Minnesota do teach about abstinence. They say the only 100% effective contraceptive method is to not have sex (of course this only applies to the heterosexual, vaginal intercourse idea of sex). They then go on to teach about the other, knowledge-based methods of contraception and share their rates of efficacy in regards to preventing pregnancy and preventing the spread of STIs. That premarital sex is wrong is not a knowledge-based idea and therefore, according to their own logic, should not be taught. Similarly, extra-marital sex being wrong is a moral judgement (one which I generally agree with) that is not knowledge-based and should not be taught.

I understand the desire to prevent teachers from trying to indoctrinate children with their personal moral beliefs, but it’s funny how these people think it’s fine if the teachers indoctrinate students with evangelical Christian values. Perhaps we should focus on teaching facts and critical thinking skills so students can actually learn rather than just be sheep.

#3: Personal Privacy:

As Republicans, we respect personal privacy and personal property. [This is followed by a number of things pertaining to personal privacy and property]

Yet:

There are multiple paragraphs condemning abortion. There is also one paragraph (mentioned in my post Why Should You Participate in Caucuses?) saying laws should be instituted that would allow men to prevent a woman they impregnated from getting an abortion.

Additionally:

We support restricting the production, sale and promotion of vulgar and obscene material, especially to children, and believe that pornography-blocking software should be installed on all computers with internet access in publicly financed institutions.

Minnesota should prohibit any medical procedure or therapy that would deliberately cause or hasten death including physician-assisted suicide and deprivation of food and water.

Minnesota’s laws governing marriage should be amended to offer a ‘Covenant Marriage’ option, entailing extensive premarital counseling and limits on divorce.

The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that there should be real welfare reform, which would . . . require . . . random drug tests as a condition of receiving aid.

I’ll spell out the contradictions. They claim to respect personal privacy, which I believe covers how you chose to live your life and what you do in your own home, yet they say women of child-bearing age should not have full control over their own bodies, access to and production of pornography should be limited by the government, those with terminal illnesses who choose to die rather than endure immeasurable pain (or put their families through such pain) must commit suicide without the assistance and comfort that a doctor can provide, the government should be so involved in marriage that people can choose to tell the government to limit their ability to divorce, even if they change their minds about one another, and welfare recipients should not have the freedom to act as they choose regarding the substances they use.

Even where I see the reasoning behind the suggestions (the drug-testing is probably meant to prevent tax-payer dollars from being spent on illegal drugs), they are all invasions of personal privacy and personal autonomy.

Three contradictions are enough for now. Happy reading!

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Republican Party of Minnesota Platform

I mentioned the Republican caucus and the party platform in an earlier post. What I didn’t mention is that as I left the caucus I picked up a copy of the party’s platform. I read the entire thing with two highlighters – one pink and one green – which I used to highlight things I disagreed with (pink) and things I agreed with (green).

The results were not surprising to me. I probably agree with about 40%, disagree with about 40% and have no opinion on about 10% (some of the stuff doesn’t make sense or I know next to nothing about the issue).

Also not surprising: the things I agreed with are mostly economics or budget-related while the things I disagreed with were primarily from the influence of evangelical Christians who have a difficult time dividing morality from religion, morality from law, government from society, etc. In other words, I reaffirmed that I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

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Why Should You Participate in Caucuses?

“Action should be taken leading to legislative guarantees and protection of the father’s inalienable right to decide against any unilateral or preemptive decision to terminate his child’s developing life.”

The above is an excerpt from the “Defend the Right to Life” section of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s party platform.

You might be wondering why I know it’s in the platform. I went to the Republican caucus on Tuesday night. I’m not a Republican, exactly, but I generally agree more with their fiscal policy than with that of Democrats. The real reason I went to the caucus is that, as an independent, I have the right to participate in whichever caucus I choose in Minnesota and I feel that part of my duty as a voting citizen of the United States and of MN is to participate in the political process at varying levels.

I know a lot of people don’t know the difference between a caucus and a primary (people in primary states often have no idea what a caucus is, and, as demonstrated to me on Tuesday evening, people in caucus states lack a complete understanding of what a primary is). To put it basically, a caucus is a discussion-based form of deciding things whereas a primary is generally just about voting for candidates for party nominations.

At the caucus on Tuesday we discussed a variety of things in addition to voting via secret ballot on which candidate we want the party to endorse for president. Santorum, unfortunately, won, but MN precinct caucuses hold more symbolic than real meaning anyway. This is because although Santorum won in my voting precinct, the 8 delegates to the next level caucus (congressional district level, I think) are free to vote for whichever candidate they prefer. They are not bound by the straw poll done by the other caucus attendees from their precinct.

Now that that’s out of the way I’d like to go back to how I began this post. Can you believe that any mainstream party in the United States can actually get away with including such a disgusting statement in their platform? I consider myself to be rather cynical, but this still surprised. I expect to encounter anti-abortion language, but this is on another level.

This clause basically says that any man who has ejaculated viable sperm into a woman that unintentionally resulted in pregnancy of that woman can decide if that woman must carry to term or if she may terminate. There is no call for such legislation. It comes far too close to slavery to be even remotely okay. No man, no matter how much he wants a child, how strongly anti-abortion he is, should have a right to decide what a woman does or does not do with her body.

I understand that these people wish to foster a culture in which men are allowed to have an opinion about the fate of a fetus that shares their genetic material, but that can only ever be a societal expectation. It can only ever be that we teach one another that major life decisions are usually best discussed, and in the case of pregnancy it is probably best to discuss the situation with the father. It can never become law. To make it a law could be to enslave a woman who does not wish to carry a pregnancy to term. It would be enslavement because another person would have determining control over 9 months (or more) of the woman’s life.

Pregnancy is not the equivalent of growing some bacteria in a petri dish on the top of your fridge for 9 months. A pregnant woman’s quality of life is affected by the pregnancy. Her ability to work is affected. Her medical, clothing and grocery bills are likely to increase. Her body changes significantly, and not just visually. I won’t even mention the pain woman often experience in childbirth. Recovery from pregnancy also takes time.

It makes me sick to my stomach that Minnesota Republicans voted to include this statement in the party platform. I see this as a call for all moderate Republicans, all apathetic voters to play a more active role in the political process. It’s not just about voting every November. If more moderate Republicans went to caucuses, horrible passages like these would never make it into the party platform. As insignificant as that may seem to you, the platform is a major way to send messages to Republican candidates about what the people of Minnesota and what the people of the United States actually want from their elected officials.

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