09 November 2006

Minnesota Politics

One of the most endearing characteristics of living in Minnesota is the dedication we have to being part the democratic process. Forget the Vikings: the biggest draw in Minnesota come October is the political season. We take our lawmaking seriously around here, and lots of us are involved in one way or another.

A case in point might be Tuesday's midterm election. Voter turnout in Minnesota was estimated at 59 to 60 percent, at least 20 percent above the national average of 40 percent. We're Number One! :-) Seriously, though, it shows that a good number of Minnesotans understand that genuine citizenship includes the responsibility to make one's voice heard by going to the polls.

And what an election we had, too! The Twin Cities elected the first Muslim U.S. Congressman, Rep.-elect Keith Ellison; they also elected Michele Bachmann, a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran whose major push the last three years as a State Representative has been a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. We elected our first female U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar, though she is not the first female Senator from Minnesota (see Muriel Humphrey was appointed after her husband, Hubert H. Humphrey, died in office in 1978). Governor Tim Pawlenty survived the Republican bloodbath, though he may have done so simply because an opponent's running mate tripped over a question about E85 and said opponent, DFL Mike Hatch, had one of his patented foot-in-mouth moments. DFL State Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson did not win re-election, though, even with a Democratic tidal wave statewide.

It was good to see the Independence Party maintain its 'major party' status. I voted for Peter Hutchinson for governor and Robert Fitzgerald for U.S. Senator, because I agreed with their agenda AND their refusal to spend their time in debates demonizing their opponents.
Tony Jones had a nice bit on this, which really summed up my feelings as well:
First of all, [Hutchinson] ran no negative ads. Secondly, at each debate, he was winsome, even funny, and brought a great deal of civility to an otherwise ugly campaign. When the Republican and Democrat tied themselves in knots criticizing the other, Hutchinson would speak up, look at the audience, and ask, "Do you really think that either of these guys is capable of leading this state into the future?"And thirdly - I hope you're sitting down - Hutchinson actually answered the questions that were asked in the debates! While the other two took the old political tack of answer-the-question-you-want-to-answer, not-the-question-that-you're-asked, Hutchinson answered every question that was asked of him with actual policy proposals.
Add to the above sentiments my belief that we are in desperate need of at least one more major political party to further distill our political waters, and you know why I voted Independence in many races.

It will be nice to answer the phone again: after the DFLers called for the third time and the Republicans for the fourth to remind us to vote, we pretty much let the thing ring after Sunday night. Nice to have voicemail and caller ID.

You think Republicans nationwide are a little miffed with President Bush today? What a strange, strange week it's been.

One final rant. Some of you reading this might not have voted. As a result, you lost your right to complain about anything for the next four years. Nothing about poor education, lousy roads, taxes, war, or anything else. Shame on you. Thousands of men and women have spent their lives making sure you have the rights and opportunities you've taken for granted. Some of those thousands actually sacrificed their lives. More than half of this country refused to honor those sacrifices. I say again, shame on you. You've done your country and your fellow citizens a disservice. Get out and fill in that box next time.

And with that it's off to the 2008 presidential campaigns. Woo-Hoo!

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to find someone else who has a genuine respect for the political process.
    It's also nice to see someone who shares a concern for the power of the two party duopoly. I am also from the great state of Minnesota: the only state in the union with (technically) 3 major parties, and I likewise tried to keep it that way. Unfortunately, after the poor showing in the latest election, I'm concerned that it will only be a few more cycles and the Independence Party of Minnesota may lose that status.
    Only time will tell.