The positions are contained in the Democratic party’s official “ongoing platform” and “action agenda” — collections of positions on issues ranging from taxes to abortion — that was approved earlier this month at the state convention in Rochester.
A word of caution: Party platforms are notoriously skewed toward the fringes of the major political parties because they’re usually drafted by a party’s most die-hard members. They’re living documents from previous years that may or may not feel up to date, depending on your view.
For example, the Republican Party of Minnesota’s platform doesn’t just contain bread-and-butter conservative ideas, such as reducing the size of government and further restricting abortions. It also calls for repealing the Legacy Amendment and outlawing gay marriage (again).
As such, many politicians brush off his or her party’s official platform — and frequently hold positions contrary to it. In fact, some activists in each party have tried to eliminate platforms altogether.
Still, the platforms are voted on by the convention delegates — the same delegates who voted to endorse, or not, candidates running for office. So if your party’s official endorsement matters, you might want to know something about its platform. And some will read these and say, “I agree 100 percent!”
Here are five from Minnesota’s Democratic party.
No nuke power
Environmentalists have a love-hate relationship with getting energy from splitting atoms. On the one hand, a relatively small amount of material can get you a hug amount of power — with no emissions other than steam. For this reason, many environmental groups traditionally seen as liberal see nuclear power as a viable alternative to coal — at least as a bridge to the the nirvana of 100 percent renewable fuel.
On the other hand, nuclear waste, while small in volume, is just about the nastiest stuff on earth.
But the official DFL platform doesn’t bother with the nuances. It states: “We oppose … nuclear power, as it is not a viable energy source.”
Felons should vote
In Minnesota, convicted felons can’t vote until “you finish all parts of your sentence, including any probation, parole, or supervised release,” according to the secretary of state.
The official DFL party position is to scratch those last three situations: probation, parole and supervised release. Voting rights should be reinstated for all convicted felons unless they’re in prison for the felony, according to the position. Massachusetts and Hawaii do it that way.
Taxes for farms, nonprofits
Farmers should pay property taxes not on the market value of their land, but on its “production value,” according to the platform. Depending on what the agricultural economy is doing and where the land is located, this could be good or bad for an individual farmer.
Another property tax change the platform calls for: “Taxing all income-producing property owned by tax-exempt organizations at the same rate as other income producing property.”
‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’
American Indians are the only racial group singled out in the DFL’s action agenda, which contains items that activists are hoping lawmakers will act on. Here’s what it says, under the section titled “Civil, Human & Constitutional Rights”:
“Support the creation and recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, on the second Monday in October, encouraging government entities, organizations, and other public and private institutions to change their policies and practices to reflect the experiences of American Indian people and our country’s indigenous roots, culture, history, and significant contributions in order to close persistent and pervasive disparities.”
Legalize pot — fully
“Support legislation to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes,” the action agenda reads, also under the “Civil, Human & Constitutional Rights” section.
No euphemisms there. Legalization, of course, is becoming more popular and more common around the country — and among Minnesota politicians — although many campaigns have avoided the term “recreational” in favor of “adult-use marijuana.”
More DFL ideas
Here are some other official DFL party positions:
• “Label all food for the purpose of identifying all genetically modified (GMO) food products and/or ingredients.”
• “We support … the use of ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, for state and local elections.”
• “Aggressively reduce carbon emissions by putting a steadily rising, revenue-neutral fee on carbon that returns all revenue to households in monthly dividends.”
• “Oppose fracking and frac sand mining.”
• “Support a ban on private, for-profit prisons and detention centers in Minnesota.”