Monday, March 3, 2014

Platform Propositions

Tomorrow is the primary vote in Texas. That means it is also the day of precinct meetings; people go back to their precinct’s voting place after the polls close, and meet at the grassroots level. The people there choose delegates to attend the county/district convention. (Harris County is big enough to hold several state senatorial districts, so we hold district conventions.) The other matter of business is to propose content for the party platform.

Some version of this pattern happens in every state. So I thought it would be worth going over my suggestions for propositions to present at a precinct meeting.
The starting place is the existing platform, which you can probably find with an online search. The Texas GOP platform is not in bad shape right now. There have been past precinct meetings where I had plenty of input I wanted to see there. This time I’m fairly content with what’s there—with the addition of some specifics that haven’t been handled.
My son Political Sphere thinks platforms should be very short—principles only. Otherwise, holding candidates to agree is impossible and undoable. There’s too much to keep track of. And he’s probably right. But, dealing with the way things are, we can at least add our input to what’s going to be there.
I do like the first page of the 2012 platform. There’s a preamble and a list of principles. That single page probably does meet Political Sphere’s suggestion:

We STILL hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The embodiment of the conservative dream in America is Texas. Throughout the world people dare to dream of freedom and opportunity. The Republican Party of Texas unequivocally defends that dream. We strive to preserve the freedom given to us by God, implemented by our Founding Fathers, and embodied in the Constitution. We recognize that the traditional family is the strength of our nation. It is our solemn duty to protect life and develop responsible citizens. We understand that our economic success depends upon free market principles. If we fail to maintain our sovereignty, we risk losing the freedom to live these ideals.

We, the 2012 Republican Part of Texas, believe in this platform and expect our elected leaders to uphold these truths through acknowledgement and action. We believe in:
1.      Strict adherence to the original intent of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
2.      The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.
3.      Preserving American and Texas Sovereignty and Freedom.
4.      Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
5.      Personal Accountability and Responsibility.
6.      Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.
7.      Having an educated population, with parents having the freedom of choice for the education of their children.
8.      Americans having the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities, and the unalienable right to defend themselves.
9.      A free enterprise society unencumbered by government interference or subsidies.
10.  Honoring all of those that serve and protect our freedom.
11.  “The laws of nature and nature’s God” as our Founding Fathers believed.
Then there are 21 more pages of specifics. Statements come under these headings:
·        PRESERVING AMERICAN FREEDOM—including 3 pages on limiting government, plus more on the judiciary, election integrity, and symbols of America’s heritage.
·        STRENGTHENING FAMILIES, PROTECTING LIFE AND PROMOTING HEALTH—including a lot on protecting marriage and life.
·        EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN—emphasizing local control and choice.
·        PROMOTING INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM AND PERSONAL SAFETY—emphasizing self-defense, religious liberties, and privacy issues.
·        STRENTHENING THE ECONOMY—Before subheadings is a restatement of the GOP platform of 1932, worth noting, because it still seems timely today:
Whereas, constructive plans for financial stabilization cannot be completely organized until our national State and municipal governments not only balance their budgets but curtail their current expenses as well to a level which ca be steadily and economically maintained for some years to come.
We urge prompt and drastic reduction of public expenditure and resistance to every appropriation not demonstrably necessary to the performance of government, national or local.
The Republican Party established and will continue to uphold the gold standard and will oppose any measure which will undermine the government’s credit or impair the integrity of our national currency Relief by currency inflation is unsound in principle and dishonest in results. The dollar is impregnable in the marts of the world today and must remain so. An ailing body cannot be cured by quack remedies. This is no time to experiment upon the body politic or financial.
·        DEFENDING SOVEREIGNTY AT HOME AND ABROAD—emphasizing Texas sovereignty, military strength, immigration, and foreign policy.

So, if you’re satisfied, great. If you see something that needs change, offer a suggestion. There’s a formal way this is done in a meeting—but don’t get too caught up in formalities. This is Texas, where the Texas Declaration of Independence (celebrated yesterday, March 2nd) was signed in an uncomfortable wood cabin, where nobody wanted to stay longer than absolutely necessary. And Texans are still about getting it done, and worrying about cleaning up the formalities later.
The formal way is to bring four copies: one for yourself, one for the precinct chair’s files, one for the Resolution Committee for consideration at the district meeting if passed, and one for the meeting secretary to include in the minutes. You use formal wording: “Whereas…, and Whereas…, Therefore, it is proposed ….” The purpose is to give the reasons for the suggested change to the existing platform, and then present the proposed change.
But I’ve noticed a much more direct wording in the platform over the last decade. And you can offer the proposition with just the plain words you want the platform to say. In other words, direct is also acceptable. I’ve even seen small, relatively informal precinct meetings where the group discusses an issue and then someone writes out the suggestion on a piece of paper. And they edit from there until there’s wording the group agrees either to accept or reject. If accepted, by majority, it gets sent on to the district level platform committee; the district offers it’s suggestions to the state platform committee, and a final version gets voted on at the state convention.
I’ve had wording I’ve presented at my precinct end up in the district version. That feels empowering to a grassroots sort of worker.
So, below are some of my suggestions. Feel free to copy and use at your own precinct meeting, or be inspired to write your own. Do what you feel confident you can defend in a meeting. And expect alterations, either in your precinct meeting or at the next level up. In other words, don’t have to worry too much about legal wording.
My concerns this year are mainly 10th Amendment prevention of federal usurpation of authority. 

Rejecting Obamacare
Whereas Texas rejects the federal government’s edict that free Texas citizens buy specific healthcare products through the so-called Affordable Care Act, and
Whereas Texans are forced to pay significantly higher federal taxes for this rejected edict,
Therefore it is proposed that Texans be given an exemption from paying the percentage of their federal taxes that would have gone to this rejected requirement. 

[Straightforward version: Texans should not be forced to pay, whether through taxes or other requirements, anything toward Obamacare, which is a program Texas rejects as beyond federal authority. So Texas will support Texas citizens in non-payment of that portion of federal taxes, and will pursue state solutions to protect Texans from federal coercion to pay.]

Rejecting Federal Department of Education
Whereas Texans believe strongly in local control of education, and
Whereas the US Constitution does not authorize federal interference in state and local education,
Therefore, it is proposed that Texas reject tax money going to a federal department of education, and supports non-payment of that portion of federal taxes that would go toward this rejected department. 

[Straightforward version: Texas supports the dissolution of the federal department of education, which has no basis in the US Constitution. Therefore, Texas will support Texas citizens in non-payment of that portion of federal taxes that would go to this rejected department, and Texas will pursue state solutions to protect Texans from federal coercion to pay.] 

Protecting Our Border
Whereas protecting international borders is a responsibility of the federal government, and
Whereas the federal government has failed to use funding provided by Congress for the purpose of protecting the Texas’s southern border, and
Whereas Texas will protect our international border, rather than allow the dangers of failure to protect, and
Whereas the cost of performing the US responsibilities of border protection are significant, and
Whereas getting costs reimbursed is difficult, inefficient, and unfair to Texas,
Therefore it is proposed that the cost of protecting the border be held in Texas, through withholding of that portion of federal tax payments, or other state solutions. 

[Straightforward version: Since the federal government has failed to protect Texas’s international border, and Texas must protect its own border, Texas can withhold payment for that portion of defense from being sent to the federal government.] 

Immigration Reform
Whereas the federal government has failed repeatedly to secure the international southern border, and
Whereas the southern border is a risk for infiltration of such evils as drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, and violent crime, in addition to the societal costs of non-violent illegal aliens, and
Whereas the federal government has failed to uphold current immigration laws, and
Whereas the federal government has failed to improve and streamline immigration processes,
Therefore it is proposed that no discussion of immigration reform can be considered until after the federal government has proved good faith by meeting its current obligations to secure the border and enforce existing immigration laws. 

[Straightforward version: The federal government has failed to show good faith in discussions related to border security and immigration, so until the border is secure and current laws are consistently enforced, Texas is against any further discussions on immigration reform.]

 Defense of Marriage
Whereas Texas has the right to define terms used in legal contracts recognized by the state, and
Whereas Texas has always had a specific definition for marriage requiring the contract be considered permanent and exclusive between a man and a woman, and
Whereas Texas has reinforced this longstanding definition through legislation and Constitutional Amendment, and
Whereas any other definition of marriage is likely to harm families and children, and also religious liberty,
Therefore Texas rejects the imposition of any other definition of marriage by federal entities or other states, and considers any attempt to impose any other definition a direct attack on Texas’s sovereignty, which will be rejected. 

[Straightforward version: Texas continues to assert its sovereign right to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and rejects imposition of any other definition by federal entities or other states.]

No comments:

Post a Comment