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It's Karen's Turn column: Pay for homeschools? Ban nuke power? What political parties want for Minnesota

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Our turn
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Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and some people say they vote for the person while others say they vote for the party. I argue there's not much difference.

While candidates might claim to represent their districts, they primarily represent their political parties. In legislatures, political parties even elect a position called a whip, to make sure that party members adhere to the party line.

Going against one's political party can hurt an elected official's political career — and result in that official's inability to successfully advocate for his or her district.

A 2015 book, "Party Discipline in the U.S. House of Representatives," by University of Minnesota political professor, Kathryn Pearson, examines how House political party leaders increasingly commanding loyalty in roll call votes, campaign contributions, and partisan speeches.

It's helpful to look at the party platforms before you decide who to vote for, to make sure they match up with your own values and in the best interest of the district you live in.

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Party platforms are easily found online. Here is a random sampling of their positions.

Minnesota Republicans:

  • Want to phase out social security.
  • Oppose corporate welfare.
  • Would prohibit the use of Social Security numbers for any purpose other than Social Security identification.
  • Say the state should pay for homeschool students as well as those who attend private, charter or public school.
  • Argue that public employees should earn no more than private sector workers.
  • Don't want the federal government, DNR or nonprofit land trusts to acquire any more land in the state.
  • Want the Legislature to meet only every other year.

Minnesota Democrats:

  • Support a single-payer health system.
  • Oppose nuclear power as an energy source.
  • Want mandatory arrests for domestic abusers.
  • Would exempt senior citizens from paying property taxes in certain circumstances.
  • Want to tax agricultural lands based on production value rather than market value.
  • Support preservation of biodiversity and wilderness.
  • Would tax all income producing property owned by tax-exempt organizations at the same rate as other income producing property.

There are are two other major political parties in Minnesota, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party . They have platforms as well.

The Grassroots party supports single-payer health care and requiring all teachers in Grades 1-12 to hold a master's degree at minimum, with free master's program tuition for the top 10% of students. It wants campaign finance reform and it supports policies to fight climate change.

The Legal Marijuana party's platform focuses on legalizing homegrown cannabis. It would also erase past marijuana convictions, ban employment drug testing, abolish the Drug Enforcement Agency, combat pollution through the sustainable use of hemp, and support third party initiatives.

Get educated before you vote. As always, our future depends on it.

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1994, and was driven by curiosity to work her way around the United States.
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