Thursday, May 3, 2012

Republican Party in Minnesota Demonstrates Why Democracy May Fail

Conservatives Completely Giving Up Responsibility for Governing

There are many people who believe that democracy as practiced in the United States is the best possible governmental system that has ever been invented, and that democracy as it has existed for 200+ years in this country is permanent and eternal.  This Forum is not among those people.

In order for democracy in the U. S. to work, the two party system must produce co-operation and compromise.  Each side must be willing at least part of the time to work with the other side to produce governance.  Often the result is a compromise in which each side gives up its secondary goals and objectives in order to accomplish it primary goals and objectives.  This doesn’t have to happen all the time, and partisan politics allows the public to ultimately determine policy, but it has to happen enough so that governance takes place.

As should be obvious to anyone following politics and government, the system is breaking down.  Republicans, particularly the Conservatives who every day dominate more and more of the party are unwilling to participate in democracy.  They believe so strongly in their positions, so strongly that they are right and everyone else is wrong that no governing is preferable to accepting any policy supported by the ‘non-believers.  This is currently playing out in Minnesota over implementing health insurance exchanges where uninsured citizens may purchase health insurance as mandated by the new health care act.

In setting up a marketplace where people can shop for insurance, the state has sought advice from consumer groups, labor unions, doctors and hospitals, employers, insurance companies, agents and brokers, and American Indian tribes.

But one notable group has been missing from the process: Republicans, who control both houses of the State Legislature.

American journalism in its zeal to appear non-partisan, and more importantly in its zeal to avoid charges of favoritism routinely made by Conservatives tends to report stories like this a being the fault of both parties.  But a close reading of the story strongly supports the hypothesis that equal blame should not be accorded here.

Republican legislators declined an invitation to participate in a Dayton administration task force guiding development of the exchange. Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, a free-market group mobilizing opposition to the exchange in Minnesota, sees little difference between one established by the state and one run by the federal government.

“All exchanges must follow the Obamacare law and the Obamacare regulations,” Ms. Brase said.

So even though setting up health exchanges was once part of the Republican agenda and supported by a Republican Governor

When Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was governor, he liked the idea of an exchange. “We will reduce costs by creating the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange, to allow uninsured individuals access to health insurance that will lower premium costs by roughly 30 percent,” Mr. Pawlenty said in his State of the State address in 2007.

now that they are part of the Democratic plan they can no longer be supported because they are part of the Democratic plan.  Note the similarity to the insurance mandate, once a strong plank of Republican health care policy but abandoned because it is now a strong plank of Democratic policy.

Minnesotans go to the polls in November to elect the entire state legislature.  They now know what Republicans want to do and what their agenda is.  If the voters keep Republicans in control then they deserve what they will get, which is not good government, not bad government but basically no government.  

1 comment:

  1. I live in Minnesota and have most of my life. Last year when the GOP-controlled legislature refused to raise taxes as Governor Dayton requested (and because of their pledges to Grover Norquist--who elected him anyway?) local government was forced to raise property taxes and school districts to request bonding increases. Most school districts approved the requested levy increases to keep their schools viable, and all counties balanced their taxes with property tax increases--hardest hit were farmers--many rural landowners saw property tax increases of over 25%. So much for the GOP propaganda of no new taxes. Right! No new taxes on the wealthy (their constituents)--just the 99%. Right now the GOP-controlled Minnesota legislature wants to eliminate property taxes on businesses. One way or the other November cannot come too soon.