What The Hell Do We Do About The MNGOP Platform?

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).

35 thoughts on “What The Hell Do We Do About The MNGOP Platform?

  1. If you ask for feedback you’ll get the Eddie the Eagle Safety Program back, Mitch. I like the 10 easy-to-communicate ideas you’ve put forth here just fine.

  2. If you ask for feedback you’ll get the Eddie the Eagle Safety Program back, Mitch.

    Yep. I asked for feedback; I didn’t open it for editing 🙂

    And for the record, Eddie Eagle is a great program which slashes accidental gun deaths among children; it is the single best program of its type out there. It just doesn’t belong as a key principle of America’s greatest political party.

    I like the 10 easy-to-communicate ideas you’ve put forth here just fine.


  3. Oh, and to answer your rhetorical question about “what the hell do we do about the MNGOP Platform?” In its current incarnation, I’d recommend killing it with fire.

  4. You didn’t get it quite right, Mitch. It’s “Drive my enemies before me, crush them and hear the lamentation of their women”.
    Precision, old boy. Some things are too important to omit.

  5. Both paragraph 1 and item # 1 strike me as boilerplate (albeit highminded boilerplate) that you could easily dispense with. Particularly in a statement of principles for a state party.

    And I’m not at all sure what you mean by or are getting at with that business about infringing on the sanctity of the family. I suspect that in more than a few families, there may well be things going on that had better be infringed upon.

    With those caveats, the rest is a vast improvement over the current dog’s breakfast of a platform.

  6. Bubba,

    Graf 1 and Item 1 were the results of compromises. They’re there for a reason. Your feedback is duly noted.

    Families are innocent until proven guilty.

  7. Dump the entire thing and start over. Too much time has been wasted over the years (and years and years) of conventions bickering about something over which the Republican Party of Minnesota has NO CONTROL. After all, it’s the Party’s ***platform***, not the State of Minnesota’s Constitution. I marvel at the joy people get when their resolution gets passed and at the disappointment they feel when they realize it doesn’t mean anything if our reps don’t create the laws. Our representatives and elected officials have that control, and the function of the Party should be to support and help get those candidates elected, period.
    The platform has turned into a wish list of what we’d like to see in our country and state. All well and good, but it’s ridiculous and a bit embarassing to see that platform added to, amended, fought over and eventually enlarged when we should be spending that precious floor time debating the issues, not the planks! And let’s not even talk about changing one word from this to that, or combining two planks to make one, or divide one to make two, etc.
    Other than that, I really have no opinions regarding the Platform.

  8. Mitch:

    “Families are innocent until proven guilty.”

    Agreed. But if found guilty, some sanctities had better be infringed upon. Just sayin’.

    And FWIW, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you threw Brandeis’ right to be let alone in there somewhere.

  9. (” The Minnesota legislature should pass legislation increasing the legal age for gambling in Minnesota to 21 years of age”)

    I actually made a motion in my precinct caucus to remove that plank. That motion passed on a 9-4 vote. However, at the CD5 convention last week, it was not in the list of amendments 🙁

  10. Here here!
    Last time I scanned the damn thing I was at a caucus… utterly useless. I got the PDF and shook my head while telling my left-leaning friends that “I understand why your platform covers rainbows and unicorns… what in the flaming hootie-hoo is MY platform covering enough crap for this many pages?!?!?!”

  11. The Minnesota legislature should pass legislation increasing the legal age for gambling in Minnesota to 21 years of age

    Great job, whomever put that one in the platform; a 19 year old can get married, sign a contract, get tried as an adult, drive a tank or a submarine and defend this nation abroad – but our party will make it a matter of principle that he/she can’t buy a $2 ticket at the track.


  12. There is a reason that when it gets to the resolutions part of conventions, I usually take that opportunity to go out in the hall and chat with friends, go get food, use the restroom, or whatever else could kill sufficient time.

    As a result I’m a huge fan of your suggestions.

  13. Raising the gambling age…..I hate gambling and if I were dictator of the world, would ban it. But, I just don’t see this as a winning issue for Republicans. To use an old phrase….pick your battle wisely. Besides, I see state run lotteries as a tax on people who are bad at math. If a 19 year old wants to blow $1000 on lottery tickets over the course of a year, that is $1000 more that the state doesn’t have to tax me.

  14. Schiess, Bubba, so I mixed up the order. At least I got the ingredients right. Kinda like focusing.

  15. The difference between your platform and the GOP’s is this. Yours is a comprehendable list of guiding principles and the GOP’s is an over-ammended list of actionable legislative requests intended to placate the motivated [read ‘wingnut’] base of GOP voters who show up at caucus.

    btw, I regularly go to caucus.

  16. This was very funny:

    “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”.

    The actual mission statement was: “We aim to provide the best Kites and Koffee in Oregon and beyond, but we’re not too sure about the Kites.”

    The proposed platform is still too wordy. And don’t forget: 10 is a touchy number.

  17. 5) Life is sacred; it must be protected and defended from government control.

    I’m a little confused by this one.

    Does it mean

    A) Life is Sacred. It must be protected. It must be defended from government control.


    B) Life is Sacred. It must be protected from Government control and it must be defended from Government Control.

    I would shorten it to
    C) Life is Sacred. It must be protected.

    Let the other 9 statements worry about government control.

    But, I’m with Kevin, I leave the room when it comes to this part of a convention.

  18. “(”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). “

    Rep Jim POrkerstar has, but that should be campaign ammo, not specifics in the platform.

    Mitch, I like the vague generality of the proposed new platform. The specifics should be with the candidates and how they act. The MNGOP wouldn’t drive away nearly as many conservatives with a concise general platform as has been proposed here.

  19. MoN, don’t protect my rib-eyes from their final delicious demise.

    C) Human Life is Sacred. It must be protected.

  20. The whole gambling thing is dumb. I also as a libertarian believe two things could dramatically change the way young kids act. First lower the drinking age to 18, and stay with me for this one… raise the driving age to 18 or maybe even 19. Could it ever happen?

  21. one problem I have with the platform…

    9) All citizens are equal before the law.

    No distinction between minor and adult mitch?

  22. “9) All citizens are equal before the law.”

    You could drive an armored division through this one. According to the postmodernists and nihilists on the left this would imply the Republicans support same sex marriage.

  23. No distinction between minor and adult mitch?

    A platform is not a law. The distinction would be of no value.

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  25. I’ve been having this same conversation about the platform since our county convention. There are too many planks that either contradict each other (change the gambling age to 21, yet at the same time eliminate gambling) or are so specific that they have no place in a mission statement (prohibiting the use of SSN’s for anything other than social security). I saw the same eyes glazing over on caucus night, and it needs to change.

    I would propose a platform even simpler than above and it might look familiar-

    * Liberty: lower taxes, less (and more sensible) regulation, and a focus on freedom, whether economic, intellectual or political.

    * Prosperity: the promotion of the freedom of the market to bring the most opportunity to the most people, and the promotion of merit that drives this prosperity.

    * Security: the defense of this nation from enemies abroad, the protection of its citizens from crime and criminals at home, and the security of our borders.

    * Culture: The recognition that America is a melting pot that welcomes newcomers who come with a desire to join in our novel experiment, enjoy freedom, wealth and a brotherhood of common principle, rather than view it as a candy store to be plundered.

    * Limited Government: A government that is focusing on whether you’re smoking or eating Big Macs is a government that has too much time, money and power on its hands.

    * Family: the belief that government needs to uphold, rather than undercut, the basic building block of all healthy societies, the family.

  26. According to the postmodernists and nihilists on the left this would imply the Republicans support same sex marriage.

    Not true. As it is now, it merely reaffirms that everyone has the same right as everyone else. Right now, a homosexual has the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as a heterosexual. What they want is to legislate behavior, not opportunity.

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  28. I think before you rewrite the platform, you need to answer the question: What do we want to DO with the Platform?” Is it a statement of principles, a policy document, a marketing document for the Party, a guide for our elected officials, or a binding contract with them? Is it perhaps that messy process that is more important than the end result, and what do you do with the process if you are going to create this monument to Great Thought that gets cast in bronze for all time?

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