COL What does this party stand for?
Since former Democratic congressman Tim Penny announced he was entering the gubernatorial race on the Independence Party ticket, the media seems more tolerant of political defections than when Norm Coleman joined the GOP.
Biases are revealed when analysts offer their opinions about "third parties" and "party defections" in the cases of Bill Kuisle, Tim Penny, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, Sheila Kiscaden and Howard Ives. The designations of virtue, villainy, principle, expediency, spoiler, and "stealth candidate" reveal the biases.
Kiscaden is too kind to engage in the vicious labeling that some apostles of "tolerance and diversity" apply to opponents.
How can a responsible, devout, family man like Howard Ives, a patriotic former Navy aviator and Northwest Airlines captain, be called an "extremist?" He believes in traditional values, fiscal restraint, limited government, and the sanctity of prenatal life. What's wrong with that? Is he "tolerant" of opposition views? Are his opponents?
Ives has been called a "stealth" candidate. Anyone who switches parties and democratically contests the political process can be labeled a "stealth" candidate.
Sen. Kiscaden left the Republican Party when she failed to get GOP endorsement, and when redistricting created unfavorable political demographics.
Ives left the GOP and the Constitution Party in search of consistent principles. Both candidates wish to serve and based their "defections" upon principles and pragmatic viability.
The Independence Party is alleged to be a "Big Tent."
Others see it as a shelter for "moderates" (read "liberals") on social issues.
Some pro-life Democrats fled to the ostensibly friendly IP environment. Are pro-life Democrats less "extreme" than pro-life Republicans? Why is being "in the middle" a higher virtue? Are "leftists" really "moderates"? The "tolerance" of some "moderates" is dubious when they demonize conservatives. Social "liberals" (leftists) are rarely labeled by the media. It is assumed that liberals are "moderates" and "centrists." Words have an Orwellian capacity to lose meaning.
What do inclusive IP members believe? Are they political Unitarians?
Democratic defector Tim Penny's independent virtues are now heralded, not his "extremist" historic social conservatism. Did Penny modify his pro-life stance for a litmus test? He denies it.
If the Minnesota IP avoids the political wars of the Party of Perot, Buchanan and Ventura, it could be the vehicle for crafting pragmatic policy options. The flexible IP Platform favors energy independence, English as the official language, public spending limits, restricted taxation, the right of candidates to adhere to their core convictions, and neutrality on abortion
; Kiscaden calls herself a moderate who votes with the GOP caucus. We had a challenging discussion about political labels, principles, "slippery slope" fears on the left and right, and the medical, legal, and moral aspects of reproductive politics.
Kiscaden's energy, integrity and talent are legislative legend.
Asked what "conservative" beliefs she holds, Kiscaden mentioned "local control, fiscal constraint, personal responsibility, and crime." Her experience in Latin America convinced her that outlawing abortion increases infanticide. She favors lessening abortion by contraception, adoption, sex education and the teaching of abstinence.
Raised in a gun-owning family, Kiscaden denies she is a gun control "extremist" and insists her Concealed Carry Permit "compromise" had law enforcement support, and was intended to keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill.
The incumbent joined with conservative GOP representative Fran Bradley on welfare reform legislation.
Kiscaden's new district includes rural constituents concerned about agricultural policy and the DM&E; railroad.
She received the "Friend of Agriculture Award" from the Minnesota Farm Bureau, and facilitated "rural health care purchasing alliances." Kiscaden supported ethanol, wet lands, feed lots, and bio-diesel.
The dynamic legislator has acquired expertise in health care, family security, data privacy, education, employee relations, fiscal policy, rail transportation, and disabled and senior independent living. On the Profile of Learning graduation standards: "Fix it. Don't abolish it."
Kiscaden is a self-described "policy maker and problem solver" who tries "to apply ideals pragmatically."
If returned to office, Kiscaden says she "will operate from the sensible center because most voters no longer identify exclusively with a particular political party."
Howard Ives agrees, saying the major parties are captives of entrenched special interests.
The Independence Party contest between Kiscaden and Ives presents clear philosophical differences. Kiscaden offers experience and bipartisan success. Ives brings national service and "sensible conservative principles" to the electorate.
The Sept. 10 primary election offers a choice between two intelligent, articulate, independent thinkers.
Voters should learn what the candidates believe and support the person they believe can best serve their communities and Minnesota.
Ostrom is a former Rochester Community and Technical College instructor who writes a regular column for the Post-Bulletin.