The Minnesota legislative session closed recently with lots of finger-pointing, and surprise,
surprise… bad-faith negotiating from the Republican House and Senate. Election season will now get moving in earnest, but we Democrats may have to fight hard this summer to frame our policies after Mark Dayton was forced to veto a major bill sent to him by the Republican legislature, thereby ending the session in a fizzle.
Followers of Minnesota politics are excruciatingly familiar with the meltdown that has ended
each legislative session during the Republican legislature’s annual battle with Mark Dayton. The victim this time was a major tax bill. But this year seemed even more predictable than usual, due to the upcoming election. Our state politics increasingly resemble the all-or-nothing tactics modeled by the national Republican party during its showdowns with President Obama.
This tired scenario is wholly frustrating for progressives, who desperately want their
government to act on issues they care about. And plays into the hands politically of Republicans, who champion a message of broken government. That’s a fight that Democrats will need to push back
against to win state-wide races, especially the Governor’s seat, and to gain back the Minnesota House of
Representatives in November.
Parsing local politics is becoming increasingly harder, especially considering onslaught of daily
Donald Trump narratives. Local politics get less and less of our attention yet play an ever-growing role in
civil progress. Minnesota DFLers need a simple, bold message this fall to cut through the noise and
affirm can-do government.
In the twentieth century we were the party that spawned Medicare, Social Security, and the
minimum wage. In the 1940s a young Hubert Humphrey, the newly elected Minneapolis mayor, pushed
for the most progressive fair-employment ordinance in the country, twenty years before the Civil Rights
Act. The progressive tradition thrived under figures like Paul Wellstone, who committed himself to
achieving single-payer health care and publicly-funded elections and did that using community action.
Democrats have never been satisfied with the status quo. We have won and lost many battles for equity
and decent living standards, nonetheless we stand on the shoulders of those before us and expect
better things out of our leaders of tomorrow.
The Trump administration has epitomized a sharp reversal of many progressive ideas proposed
during the Obama years. Trump also made serious promises to fix complex issues in ridiculously simple
terms. Voters still want to fix those problems and I think the con has been shown to be just that. A
Democratic majority controlling Minnesota’s House of Representatives (which needs a twenty-seat
swing), and winning Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor are essential in the
fight for progress.
Democrats alone have solutions to the real issues that people deal with every day, like cheaper,
easier health care, income equity, proper education funding, ditching our current campaign funding
system, protecting consumers, and maintaining strong labor practices. It’s up to candidates to be the
voices of the party, but for the rest of us in the Fighting 41 st , we are the legs of the party. Now is the
time to get involved and affect change on your most passionate causes.
Organizing icon Saul Alinsky wrote: “People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice
some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing
pursuit of the common good by all of the people. Citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in
a society predicated on volunteerism.”
The swell of new Democratic candidates and volunteers gives me hope for the fall, but the work
is far from finished. `