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Platform diving

Reps and Dems change party platforms, keep voters on toes

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The stark differences between Idaho's two largest political parties are made clear in the opening statements of each party's platform.

Idaho Republicans pledge, in the preamble to their platform, that America's strength lies in its faith in God, the individual and the family. Idaho Democrats lead their platform off with government, asserting that good government is what makes Idaho a great place to live.

Maybe that's why Idaho has so many independent voters.

But for party stalwarts, the platform is an important document, and both groups had lengthy debates at their conventions last month, coming up with new party planks.

Idaho Republicans, in a bold, only-in-Idaho move, approved a plank resolving to abolish the Federal Reserve System and return to the gold and silver standard. This notion was a major tenet of the Ron Paul presidential campaign and his supporters managed to get it approved.

Sen. John McGee, who chaired the platform committee at the convention in Sandpoint, said he's not sure it's the most appropriate idea, but it shows the Republican Party is a "big tent."

Wayne Hoffman, a staffer for Rep. Bill Sali who also works on his campaign and is vice chairman of the Canyon County Republicans, under McGee, went to Sandpoint with several new ideas for the platform.

Hoffman said he brought a plank to encourage early childhood education in the private sector and helped change the wording on public schools from "strengthen our public schools" to "improve our public school system." Also added: That does not necessarily mean spending more money on schools.

The Idaho GOP is also now calling for congressional reform to give members of Congress more time to study legislation, end abuse of earmarks, increase public testimony, discourage empty Senate and House chambers with one member giving a speech for C-SPAN, and change to a bill-flow system more like Idaho's Legislature.

These are suggestions that Sali has made since heading to Washington two years ago.

Climate change now appears in the Idaho Republican platform as a vague statement tacked on the end, acknowledging the "hand of providence," the importance of consumer choice and encouraging nuclear energy production. It falls way after the part about encouraging domestic oil exploration, which was added this year as well.

Democrats had their own debate about energy and came up with something about renewable and sustainable that is only a tad less vague. Eastern Idaho Democrats favored a mention of nuclear power generation, but were unable to get it past the northerners, so they took out any mention of wind or solar as well.

"I have a sense that there are people in the party that are willing to take a look at nuclear fuels," said party spokesman Chuck Oxley.

Democrats did agree this year on a position on immigration reform that is "visionary, practical and humane."

On the absence of "God" in the Democratic platform, party executive director Jim Hansen said, "she's in there a lot ... If you're feeling a little insecure about how your faith is then you have to keep mentioning it."

Read the planks at boiseweekly.com.

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