RICH JAMES: GOP platform should offer meat, not emotion

2014-03-23T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: GOP platform should offer meat, not emotionBy Rich James nwitimes.com
March 23, 2014 12:00 am  • 

I thought they’d never ask.

The Indiana Republican Party wants us to help them decide what it should stand for.

That leads me to think the party isn’t terribly sure what it is.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann will be in Merrillville on Thursday to ask folks to add and delete from the state party platform.

Don’t be misled. Ellspermann’s visit is little more than a dog-and-pony show to make local Republicans feel good about themselves.

The real decisions will be made by party leaders just prior to the state convention this summer.

Ultimately, the platform will be a litany of generalizations about supporting economic development, education and tax cuts for those blessed with the ability to make money — lots of it.

But, any party worth its salt ought to adopt a platform that is loaded with specifics about improving lives of fellow Hoosiers.

To that end, I have some suggestions as to what the party should stand for other than telling same-sex couples they aren’t wanted in Indiana.

It would be nice if Indiana Republicans would go against the grain and back fairness and equality for women in the workplace.

And speaking of women, stop the attacks on a woman’s right to have a legal abortion.

There ought to be a statement of support for the state’s public school system. To that end, there needs to be a commitment to mandatory kindergarten and support for preschool education statewide.

With those programs in place, there wouldn’t be much of a need to lure kids out of the public schools with vouchers for parochial and charter schools.

The party needs to tell the middle class that it won’t suffer when tax cuts go to corporate Indiana.

Better yet, how about a commitment to the middle class — things like making it less expensive to go to college?

And speaking of the middle class and those trying to get there — wouldn’t it be special for the party to make sure all Hoosiers have health care coverage — as is the case with most Americans.

And as long as Ellspermann is in Northwest Indiana, it would be great if the platform includes the following.

• A land-based casino for Gary.

• A Northwest Indiana trauma center.

• State money to rebuild the Cline Avenue Bridge.

• State financing to help expand the South Shore commuter railroad.

• A commitment to extend state funding for the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority beyond 2016.

• State support for a world-class convention center in Northwest Indiana.

• Finally, there should be no reference to God, guns and gays in the platform.

The Bill of Rights provides for the separation of church and state and the right to bear arms. And being gay is a lifestyle, not a decision.

Republicans need a platform with meat, not emotion.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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