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All voters should get involved in political process

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Thanks to Paul Utke, Park Rapids, for his timely letter encouraging all voters to get involved in the political process this critical election year. Most significant was his inclusion of the Minnesota Republican and Democrat Platform web sites included below. 

Republican: http://mngop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-platform_Updatedleadership.pdf

Democrat (DFL):http://dfl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Ongoing-Platform-amended-in-2012.pdf

Additionally, the National Democrat and Republican 2012 Platforms are available via most search engines like Google under Democratic Party Platform or Republican Party Platform. Going to these sites is the quickest way to separate the political policies the respective party candidates campaign on. For many people, the decision to vote Democrat or Republican is based more on their parents or friends opinions without bothering to read and understand the underlying philosophies and ideologies. Actually reading these documents may reinforce or change you belief structure. As a minimum, your choice will be yours, not an inherited, biased viewpoint.

This election year is very critical to our country’s future. The Federal government has been in gridlock since 2010 relative to any progressive thought and initiatives. At the same time, our physical, economic and social infra-structures are deteriorating, creating escalating costs to maintain and replace. Both parties cry out for jobs, jobs, jobs, but only the Democrats have an actual plan that also addresses the deteriorating infra-structures essential for economic growth. Their plan would put millions to work (jobs) directly which in turn stimulates the consumer base. The positive ripple effect is that businesses of all sizes also benefit. All this for a small government investment of 500 billion. These investment dollars will be returned to the government many times over through increased tax revenue. The Republican jobs plans simply return to lowering taxes for corporations and the wealthy, smaller government , less regulations, trickle down policies that have been tried and failed since then President Reagan pronounced that “government is not the solution, government is the problem”.

If not the government, then who does build and maintain the roads, bridges, dams, ports, energy grids, railroads, public education, public transportation — everything we have taken for granted? Surely, industry isn’t going to even though their success depends on it. They can’t. There are no visible and immediate profits for them to maintain cash flow or show profits to their investors.  Doing these big things government is responsible for has stalled since the “austerity” policies of the Tea Party and other conservative factions of the Republican controlled House of Representatives has forced upon us in the name of fiscal responsibility and national debt reduction, never admitting the national debt crisis is the result of their own failed policies.

To illustrate, the national debt rose from $6 trillion to $11 trillion (round numbers) during Bush’s terms and has added another $6 trillion in the five years since due to the $1.5 trillion annual deficit passed on to the Obama administration. Obama has since trimmed the annual deficit by a trillion dollars but there will be no reduction in the national debt until the deficit becomes a surplus. Even then, reducing the national debt to what Republicans consider an acceptable level may take another 20 years. Can we really wait that long to address repairing and replacing our crumbling support structures?

So what has that to do with this year’s elections? Currently, the Republicans control the House, the Democrats control the Senate and Presidency. We’ve had three plus years of gridlock just saying no to anything Obama proposes and might get some credit for. If Republicans maintain control of the House, this situation will not change. If Republicans also gain control of the Senate, gridlock will be even more pronounced since both houses could pass legislation that is very unpopular to the public (repeal the Affordable Care Act, support anti-gay, anti-women, anti-minorities movements, more voter suppression, let’s go to war again, lower taxes on the wealthy, reduce environmental and economic regulations, cut Social Security and Medicare…) policies which would be vetoed by President Obama.

Right now, the House seems locked in for Republicans until 2020 due to Gerrymandering (redrawing) Congressional district boundaries following the 2010 census and numerous voter suppression tactics but informed, energized voters can overcome those obstacles and will. The sad truth is that we will have little chance of having a fully functional government for the foreseeable future unless Democrats win back the House and retain control of the Senate or both parties agree it is in their best interests to work together for the good of the country. The latter may happen if more Senators and Congressmen reach across the aisle like our own Senators Klobuchar and Francken and Congressman Nolan. Proud of them for what they have accomplished for Minnesota and our country despite the obstructive climate in Washington. — Lee Purrier, Park Rapids

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