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Eaton: Illinois GOP’s new platform should be cause for optimism

Updated: July 14, 2012 6:32AM



Most people will agree that where you stand on jobs and taxes matters much more politically than whether you’re a Democrat or Republican.

But because Democrats rule Illinois’ Legislature, statewide offices and the judicial system, Republicans have no choice but to present a stark contrast to Illinois’ financial crisis, caused by years of out-of-control spending, broken promises and self-serving Democratic leadership.

Last weekend, more than 1,200 delegates of the Illinois Republican Party gathered at the Tinley Park Convention Center to kick off the 2012 general election campaign, pick party leaders to send to the national convention and lay out a plan to end Illinois’ one-party control.

The state convention’s platform committee was assigned the task of updating the state party’s foundation. No one pays attention to the platform committee. Who cares what the platform says? In a party as diverse as the Illinois GOP, it’s not easy to agree upon basic principles.

But an addition toward the end of the 2012 platform, which few paid attention to, drew new distinctions. It says: “The views expressed in this platform, when accepted by the majority of the convention, should be the policy standard for candidates running as a Republicans in Illinois. While we welcome Republicans who may not agree with specific planks, anyone elected as a Republican should strive to self-direct their activities and policy positions to uphold these principles as the unifying basis for the Illinois Republican Party.”

So, if you’re a Republican, you need to not only be aware of what the platform says, you need to direct your activities and voting behavior to reflect those viewpoints. Why? Because issues matter to voters, much more than party affiliation.

The Illinois GOP’s 2012 platform is very conservative on fiscal issues and government size. It says, “From these principles flow our commitment to equality, freedom and the right to life, opportunity, less government, low taxes and strong national security. The Republican Party is unwavering in its commitment to these principles. We honor the Constitution and believe that neither the executive, legislative nor judicial branches of government should detract from the rights enumerated therein.”

Pretty clear. A vote for less government and low taxes is a stand against government domination of health care and burdening taxpayers more and more. Freedom means voting against legal mandates on law-abiding citizens. Equality means supporting opportunities for all — not special preferences for certain groups based on skin color, ethnic or religious background or sexual orientation.

That’s a traditional conservative viewpoint, one that promotes success and accomplishment for all, based on hard work and perseverance. It’s a common-sense approach to culture and community.

State Republicans called for the freedom to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms without being required to apply for a firearm owner’s ID card. They rejected courts overturning legislative measures via decree. They upheld credible elections by encouraging voter IDs and verification via paper trails of voting-machine results.

The Illinois GOP also supported prohibiting the government payroll system from collecting union dues from public employees — a key element in defusing powerful public-sector unions and a deterrent for Republican candidates who may be tempted to take campaign donations from those unions.

The state party reiterated its commitment to strong family values, which makes sense because the stronger the family, the less need for government intervention and public services. And that equates to less demand on the state treasury and citizens’ pocketbooks.

In keeping with this commitment, the party defines marriage as between a man and a woman, upholds the value of life from conception to natural death, supports the reversal of the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling and opposes embyronic stem cell research.

All a clear contrast to the Democrats’ positions.

The Illinois GOP platform also focuses strongly on what directly affects all Illinois families — jobs and economic growth.

“Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. The critical issue facing the nation and the state at this time is the recovery of the economy. Republicans have long supported the idea that the best way to help the majority of the people is by having a robust, growing economy that provides jobs and the opportunity to start new companies. A rising tide lifts all boats. It is best for individuals’ self-respect and for society’s costs to keep the number of people on public assistance as low as practical.”

Republicans sometimes get a bad rap in Illinois as being too white, too stuffy, too selfish, too affluent and too out of touch. Tell me how the new state party’s new platform fits these stereotypes. It doesn’t.

And that’s why if Republicans wisely build and operate campaigns on their updated platform, Democrats should be nervous. Even in Illinois.

Fran Eaton is a Southland resident who co-founded and edits the conservative political blog, illinoisreview.com.



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