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Ross Williams

Ross Williams's picture
Grand Rapids, MN
Commenter for
6 years 43 weeks

Recent Comments

Posted on 04/03/12 at 09:10 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

This is mostly insider prattle about what is wrong with the legislature based on coffee shop talk at the capitol. Political insiders have always placed themselves and their experience at the center of events, but they are really only players on the margins of the political landscape.

If you pay attention to Minnesota history you might remember we have two versions of our constitution, one Republican, one Democrat because the two groups wouldn't even sit in the same chamber with one...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 09:19 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

There are over 200 legislators. The most important vote most of them will cast is the first day when the legislature is divided into caucuses. After that, the outcomes will largely be driven by party leaders on the big, important issues.

"voters, more often than not, would need to learn at least some minimal amount about a candidate to make an informed choice. "

I don't think that is true. Where would they "learn" anything about a candidate? More likely they would vote blindly...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 09:48 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

The abortion issue makes a nice media story. But it is really just that, a media narrative that is important to only a small number of us on either side of the issue. Its not really very important in feeding the partisan divide.

The real change where partisanship took over is on education. It used to be there were supporters of teachers in both parties. The MEA was seen as the more conservative "teacher organization" and therefore more friendly to Republicans. The MFT was a member of...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 10:17 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

"one side can move to an extreme without the other side also moving."

While I agree with the asymmetric nature of the changes, I don't think they mirror the misleading media narrative about "liberal versus conservative". The real division is not around left/right or who is extreme. Its that the Republican party has changed to be organized around a coalition of ideologies, while the Democrats continue to be organized around a coalition of economic interests. The compromises required...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 11:12 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

The idea apparently is that if you can just get politicians to be friends, the divisions in the society they represent will disappear. The partisan division between Democrats and Republicans before statehood was driven by the issue of slavery. Does anyone really think that the civil war would have been prevented if a bunch of politicians had just gotten to know one another better over coffee?

Frankly, this is a conceit of the chattering and political classes. They just aren't that...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 03:33 pm in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

" they currently serve as shorthand for ideological positions"

And that isn't important information when choosing a representative? For 70-80% of the voters that appears to be the only information they really need. And they are right, because the persons party is by far and away the most important attribute. They can be dumb as a stump or smart as a whip, their choice of which caucus to join will have more impact than any other decision they make. And that was true when whether the...

Posted on 04/03/12 at 05:12 pm in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

Let me suggest one more thing. The "quality" of the legislators hasn't declined. This really is one of those "good old days" things that aging pols believe. There were over 200 legislators that changed from year to year and they can't really remember most of them. They do remember the ones that stood out. And then they compare the current crop to their memories of those that stood out through the rose colored glasses of time.

There are lots of problems with the legislature, but any...

Posted on 04/04/12 at 11:25 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

I think its a mistake to see the "ideologies as window dressing." Opposing government regulation of economic activity and supporting lower taxes is an ideological expression of economic interests that are disconnected from broader community interests. That is very different than a discussion of whether more resources should go into education or sports facilities, transit or roads etc. The latter are discussions of what kind of community we want, the ideology says that is the wrong question...

Posted on 04/04/12 at 11:07 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

"She didn't say partisanship would disappear when relationships are developed. Rather, she said that in the ABSENCE of relationships, partisanship increases. Two different things."

Posted on 04/06/12 at 11:00 am in response to Why the quality of Minnesota’s Legislature has declined

"median household income"

You will notice that is not the median individual income. Many households have more than one income producer, including many legislators who have working spouses.