A constitutional republic is a form of representative government where those that govern are tied to a set of laws (constitution), of which they must abide. One purpose of this is to keep the majority from ruling, as happens in a democracy. It is to protect minorities of all types (not just by race, etc.).
As an example, let’s take the civil rights movement of the last century (and a half). If the United States was a democracy and a majority was needed to allow black people equal rights, would the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed? How about the 19th Amendment in 1920 granting women’s suffrage? Yeah, I doubt it too.
However, in a representative government, majority does not rule. We elect people to make these decisions on behalf of the citizens. This allows for protection of the minorities and those without political standing, be they black, female, Asian, or gay.
Let’s take a brief look at the marriage amendment vote. I know I’ve talked about it at length here, but just for a second. Many people are using the argument that the people should not be allowed to vote on this amendment for the reasons I listed above… that civil rights should not be decided by a democracy. I 100% agree with the argument that we should not be voting on this issue, but not because it is a civil rights issue. As I said before we have a representative government in place for a reason, to protect the minorities and those without political standing, be they black, female, Asian, gay, or rich. Wait, what?
That’s right. I said the rich. A lot of people in the state of Minnesota wanted to solve this budget problem by taxing the rich, 0.1% of the state’s population, or about 7,700 people. Why not? They certainly have political standing. And they can easily afford the tax increase. It’s such a small portion of the population, what do we care? Well, let’s see.
Do you know what other groups make up a similar percentage of the population? Nationally, people who “speak English less than very well” make up 0.2% of the population. People that live in a boat, van, or RV make up 0.1%. People living in houses using solar energy? 0.03%, and we give them a tax break. And 0.1% is age 95 or over.
On a state level, Minnesotans of Lithuanian ancestry, or Slovakian, or Portuguese ancestry – all at 7,500 or less. Greek-Minnesotans amount to 12,480 or 0.2% of the state. Also around this size piece of the pie, the population of the cities of Mahtomedi, Baxter, Orono, and New Prague. Shall I hit closer to home? Saint Paul Park has only 5,300 people. Perhaps we should tax them more, I don’t know, because they have more bars per capita.
Groups like this need the protection of a constitutional republic. Because what if the Portuguese or Greeks really piss us off and we irrationally take it out on those here? Sound familiar? Maybe we choose to set up Saint Paul Park-ian internment camps?
Ok, perhaps I’m getting a bit extreme here. But by now, you should see the point… that the same argument can be used against the marriage amendment AND against the taxation of one small group of Minnesotans. Is it the same thing? Of course not. It does not need to be. It is protection all the same.
“I fell aside, I cast away, covered in shame, now take the blame” – Gravity Kills
The last week of June, the topic of conversation was the budget, compromise, and campaign promises. On Thursday, the last day of the state’s budget, none of that really mattered. On that day, it was all about the shutdown. Everyone wanted to stop the shutdown from happening. Everyone, that is, but one man.
As the day progressed, legislators from both parties arrived at the Capitol, expecting that a special session would be called. The idea would be that the legislature could pass a “lights-on” bill that would keep the state going, operating at the 2010 budget levels. This would buy some time so a new budget could be negotiated. It is the logical course of action.
So, the members waited. The Republican senators and representatives went as far as taking their seats in their respective chambers. Even one DFLer joined them, Representative Atkins of House District 39B (Inver Grove Heights). 9:30pm rolled around and the leading lawmakers were leaving the governor’s office for the last time of the night. Still, everyone waited.
Then the news came. Governor Dayton held a news conference just after 10 o’clock and it became painfully apparent that no “lights-on” bill would happen. He expressed the same notion he had been saying all week, that he would not call a special session without a budget agreement in place. He said it, but no one believed it. I certainly didn’t believe he was willing to let 23,000 people get laid off because he wanted a budget agreement. It sounds a little childish, no? Frankly, it just makes no sense.
While I blame the lack of a budget agreement on both parties, both branches, the shutdown itself can be blamed solely on one man – your governor, Mark Dayton.
“Love me when I’m god. Love me when I’m dead. I don’t want to be shutdown” - Cameron Heacock, Chad Hanks
Just five days remain until the shutdown. Unless the Governor and the Republican-lead legislature can agree, the shutdown takes place July 1st. Most political commentators agree that a shutdown is bad for both sides, but to this point, it appears that Governor Dayton is winning that PR battle. And if the shutdown does happen, it is the Republicans who will suffer, not the DFL.
Let’s assume that shutting down the state’s government is the fault of both sides, that the public will blame the government as a whole. If that is the case, then in theory the voters will want to replace whoever they can. This means that, in the 2012 election, no incumbent would be safe (of course, this is a gross simplification, but still). So, let’s look at the election.
Just who can be replaced in 2012?
State Auditor? No.
Secretary of State? No.
Attorney General? No.
House Representatives? Yes.
Hmm… let’s break this down by what party controls which offices and see who’s in trouble. The DFL holds the offices of Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. The GOP has the majority in the Senate and the House. Quick math… that means that the DFL stands to lose – wait for it – NOTHING in the 2012 election. But wait, every Senator and every Representative is up for reelection… that means the GOP stands to lose – wait again – EVERYTHING.
Now again, this is assuming that the voting public believes everyone in government is equally to blame, which is unlikely. Either Governor Dayton or the GOP majority will come out looking better. Of course, none of this may matter in reality, because what is also unlikely?… that the shutdown will even happen at all.
“Shadows of soldiers lay nearby. The dead ones finally reach a compromise.” – Tim Armstrong
As I have mentioned here before, when the Minnesota GOP came up with Tom Emmer as their gubernatorial candidate in 2010, I was not excited. If fact, I was disappointed. I knew, as everyone did (or should have) that Marty Seifert was much more electable. Seifert simply had a better chance to win, even if he was “T-Paw 2”. [Incidentally, the DFL made a similar mistake in choosing Dayton over Rybak or Kelliher, but that’s another story] Long story short, Emmer lost and here we are, amazingly, with the Republican majority in the House and Senate, while Dayton controls the executive branch. We made a mistake as a party, taking two majorities, but missing the third piece, and compromise is the punishment. This brings us to the current $1.8 billion difference and compromise is the price we pay for going 2 for 3.
Idealism is a funny thing. It tells many of us that we should not raise a single tax, not bring in a single dollar more of revenue to fix this budget problem. It tells us that this problem needs to be fixed with “cuts” only (of course we know they are not real cuts, but simply reduced increases). Our idealistic ways say that we would rather have a government shutdown than give in to Governor Dayton. The thing is, you can remain idealistic while tossing in a bit of pragmatism.
To do this, we need to look to the future. How can we fix this budget in a way that can get everyone on board, but still reap some benefits for the party and ultimately, the people of Minnesota? We can do it while satisfying one of the goals of the entire membership of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Eliminate business and individual tax credits. Call me crazy, but simplification of the tax code, if it is not one of our major party goals, certainly should be.
Now, I don’t have access to all the legislature’s budget crunchers or auditors and such, but it seems like this would be significant enough to fix the problem. And we eliminate as many as we need to make it work. Yes, it raises revenue, but look beyond that for a minute. Tax simplification gives the public a much better picture of what they’re actually paying and once the picture is clear, it would be much easier to reduce rates. Tax credits and deductions are not real reductions to tax payments or government revenue. They are methods of redistribution and social engineering. One of the simplest examples is the home interest deduction; we want people to own homes, so we take from everyone and give back to the homeowners. Why not just let everyone keep those tax payments in the first place?
Well, I’m sure you’re seeing the problem with that last question in this case. If we fix the budget by eliminating credits and deductions, we are not letting people keep that money. The government is keeping it. That’s true, but one step at a time. Pragmatism. We can’t get to flat, reduced tax rates in one fell swoop.
We take one step at a time on this path and, along the way, we fix this budget without raising tax rates or T-Paw-style user fees. It may not make everyone happy, but we can pass the budget and move on to the next battle. Compromise is not a bad word. It is a part of politics. If you don’t believe that, leave politics alone and go watch the Twins game. That’s your punishment.
“[He] lies and says [he]‘s in love with him, can’t find a better man.” – Ed Vedder
Why do so many Republicans want to define marriage? I’ve spent a lot of time this week pondering this question. Is it purely a religious thing? Do they really hate homosexuality so much as to deny them the benefits associated with marriage? It turns out, these are completely the wrong questions to ask. What is truly going on here is that there are Republicans that actually want to expand government without realizing it.
In the last election cycle, the term “RINO” (Republicans In Name Only) became an everyday word to describe those that perhaps had some Republican traits, but would vote in favor of government expansion. This includes votes for tax increases or growth in government regulations. For example, some would refer to former Governor Tim Pawlenty as a RINO, due to his increases to user fees (taxes) or his promotion of ethanol subsidies. I contend that the Minnesota Republicans in favor of defining marriage are true RINO’s.
How can a definition of marriage be an expansion of government? In simplest terms, it is an addition to what is already the country’s longest state constitution, though this point is merely meaningless rhetoric. To understand how this action should not be sponsored by a true Republican, we’ll need to understand what should be done with marriage – eliminate it.
I have been a long-time advocate of what has come to be known as “marriage privatization”. This is the idea that government should not be involved in marriage in any way. As the Wikipedia page puts it, “Marriage privatization is the concept that the state should have no authority to define the terms of personal relationships such as marriage.” Simply eliminate any mention of marriage from all statutory language, both at the state level as well as federally.
With marriage no longer being recognized by the state, any two (or more) people would be able to enter into a contract that would spell out the terms of the relationship. Anyone could get the benefits now available through marriage. Problem solved.