One of the most useless exercises at any business is the process of “writing a mission statement”. If you have a business that has a chance at success, the mission is pretty self-evident. “The Mission of Muffy and Ian’s Kites ‘n Koffee is to provide better coffee and kite supplies to the consumers of West Buyaloopup, Oregon”.
Most management know better than to ask me for a mission statement anymore – because for the past fifteen years, I’ve told ’em all the same thing; there’ve been two mission statements in all of history that serve as templates for all others: Baron Manfred Von Richthofen (“My mission is to patrol my sector and shoot down anything I see. All else is bullsh*t”) and Conan the Barbarian (“The greatest joy mission is to drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentation of his women”).
The simple fact is, for most businesses the mission is bone simple, to the point of self-explanatory. It’s true for most entities, whether people (“My mission is to be the best person, father and citizen I can be”), families (“The mission of the Berg family to make sure Bun and Zam grow up to be good people and citizens”), blogs (“the mission of Shot In The Dark is to drive liberals before it and hear the lamentation of whatever liberals’ distaff community is determined to be; all else is bullsh*t”), organizations (“The mission of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers is to provide a social outlet for bloggers and blog readers”), or whatever.
With political parties, it’s just as simple; the mission of a political party is to embody the principles that reflect their members’ vision of what government is supposed to be. All the thousands and millions of ’em.
The Minnesota DFL platform actually does a fine job of conveying that vision. It states a long list of principles – most of them launching from the notion of “society” doing something, or government fully-funding this or that. The DFL platform presents a grandiloquently statist vision – a high-level “to-do” list for big government – in elegantly-crafted wrapping paper.
The Minnesota GOP platform [danger – PDF file], on the other hand, is a dog’s breakfast of talking points. It’s circulated in tabloid form at precinct caucuses; I’ve seen people try to make heads or tails of it, watched their eyes glaze over, and put it down, eyes rolling. The document is literally written by committee – not just any committee, but one of the biggest committees in all of Minnesota. At every year’s precinct caucuses, thousands of resolutions get forwarded for consideration to BPOU, Congressional District and finally State scrutiny; few actually get into the platform…
…but “few” of thousands still makes for a huge platform. There are nine sections to the platform, each with 15-20 planks. It comes to nearly 20 pages.
And it includes an amazing assortment of things – from lofty ideals (“…policies that reflect that every innocent human being, born and unborn, has an inalienable right to life from conception to natural death”) to practical principles (“Improving the quality of education by maximizing parental choice through expanded support for charter schools, school choice programs, parental rights to home school their children and more competitive and accountable public school systems”) to bald-faced sops to special interests (“Making the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program available annually in every Minnesota
elementary and middle school “) to low-level exercises in social micromanagement (“…pornographyblocking software should be installed on all computers having internet access in publicly financed institutions “) to things that principled conservatives should find abhorrent, if they thought about it (” The Minnesota legislature should pass legislation increasing the legal age for gambling in Minnesota to 21 years of age”) to stuff that just doesn’t make sense (“Opposing efforts to put all land and water under the control of the federal government” – I don’t think even Obama has suggested trying this yet).
It’s time to put the platform on a diet – and make it focus on the things that a political party should focus on; the principles that should guide the party’s members, and especially the party’s candidates and elected officials.
A small group of conservative GOP activists – who shall remain nameless for the moment – have written a rough draft of a statement of princples; they intend, at some point or another, to introduce it as at least the beginnings of a discussion to replace the current War And Peace-sized platform with something a bit more accessible and to-the-point.
Here it is:
Individuals, businesses and the country succeed and prosper when government stays out of the way of the people – those who act on their own initiative, and who lead the way with integrity, responsibility, charity, hard work, humility, courage, gratitude and hope.
Goverment has a role in our society – but that role is carefully enumerated in the United States Constitution. The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that a good government does not eclipse roles that are best carried out by families, houses of faith, charitable organizations or businesses.
We, the members, candidates and elected officials of the Republican Party of Minnesota, support the following principles:
1) America is a great nation; we have been a “Shining City”, an exemplar of virtues for all other nations and their people. The greatness of the American nation, the virtues of its people, and the success of the American experiment are a beacon of hope for the whole world.
2) Liberty is essential for our society to advance and prosper. The freedom to explore advances in culture, business, faith, science, and government politics improves all of our lives; on the other hand, excessive government regulation and control hinder that development. The ability and freedom to disagree with each other and our government must also be
protected; any hindrance to the free market of ideas will sap the ability of America to advance and to better herself.
3) We have more hope and trust in the individual than the government to solve society’s problems, and to lead us into the future. We value and protect the freedoms and the rights of the individual in preference to those of government.
4) Faith is where we derive our moral compass and come to understand the eternal rules of order and rights in which our creator has ordained. We believe each person needs to be free in order to explore their faith.
5) Life is sacred; it must be protected and defended from government control.
6) The Family is among our society’s most important institutions. Government must not be allowed to infringe on the sanctity of the family.
7) The Pursuit of Happiness is essential to our existence, we support equal opportunities, not equal results.
8 ) Charity comes best from the heart of individuals, and cannot be forced or coerced via taxation and regulation.
9) All citizens are equal before the law.
10) The law abiding citizen must be trusted to defend their life, family and property.
These are the principles we, the people of this nation and the members of this party, believe lead to a just society, a secure nation, and a better future for our children.
The committee struck out someone’s suggestion for a final line; “…, and to hear the lamentation of their women, and all else is bullsh*t”, but otherwise I like it.
Comments? Feedback? Leave a note in the comment section (and be advised that while all commentary is welcome, this is MN GOP business, and thus limited to the grownups; criticism is fine, but addlepated anti-Republican buncombe will be mutilated for the sole amusement of the blog owner. While my comment section is generally the most open forum anywhere in the American media, this thread will be controlled. Deal with it).