Some of the activists at the Caucuses Monday night will be armed — with planks.
Each party adopts a ‘platform” at its state convention this summer, but the process of collecting a series of issue statements or “planks” for that platform begins at the precinct level on Caucus night. The platform debate starts once the presidential preference polling is out of the way. Iowa Right to Life executive director Jenifer Bowen says members of her group are prepared.
“What the platform does is it lays out….for individuals involved in the party what the party itself stands for,” Bowen says. “…We encourage people, whatever party you’re in, to put forward a pro-life plank that is for the protection of all lives.”
Bowen’s group has circulated a five-sentence statement for supporters to propose as a “plank” for their party’s platform. There are veterans who’ve been doing this for years and Bowen says she has a few first-timers, too.
“It really just depends on the precincts that the individuals are in,” she says. “Sometimes it’s very easy to submit the plank and then other times you may be in a precinct that is a little bit more difficult to get every plank passed.”
Advocates for an increase in the minimum wage plan a push at the precinct level for statements in their party platform. People who feel strongly about the gun issue will propose planks. One side will call for new gun restrictions and the other will press for expanded gun rights. And then there are the atheists, agnostics and skeptics.
“I don’t think there’s been a public push by non-believers to try to impact the caucus like this,” says Justin Scott, a photographer from Waterloo.
Scott is newly active in the Iowa chapter of the Secular Coalition for America.
“The one thing that’s interesting about atheism or being secular or having focus on secular issues if that everybody comes from a different vantage point,” Scott says. “Some people have been in the closet for years. Other people never grew up in a religious home, so they’ve never known anything but that and then other people have been discriminated against and that’s what lights the fire of wanting to get involved.”
Scott is asking like-minded people he calls “free-thinkers” to attend the caucus and present a plank that calls for “maintaining an absolute separation of religion and government.” It also calls for legislators to adhere to “religious neutrality” when making laws.