Michael Osterholm, who has one of the longest titles attached to his name I have ever seen (Ph.D., MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), says he has never ventured into the realm of partisan politics before, but for the sake of his “children and grandchildren” he comes forward to endorse Independence Party candidate Tom Horner for governor.
Osterholm outlined his thinking in MinnPost’s Community Voices with the title: “A vote for Horner is not a wasted vote.”
To which I would have to ask: If it is not a wasted vote, then what is it?
Is a Horner vote a vote for populism? Like voting for Jesse Ventura?
Hardly. Horner is the virtual opposite of Ventura. A public-relations guy by trade, Horner will never be compared to any no-holds-barred persona who can take an election by storm. Horner carefully chooses every word. His statements have a precision that steers clear of the spontaneous or the inflammatory. He won’t appeal to the restless populace because he would never be able to relate to them in their day-to-day life — only in how to sell things to them.
Is Horner a vote for a truly independent voice?
Again, hardly. Horner has made his living catering to corporate interests. He wants things from them; they want things from him. His thought processes are those of a lobbyist. The firm he co-founded, Himle Horner, helped Flatiron get the I-35W bridge contract. Horner carries the Independence Party banner, but the name of the party is the only thing that can remotely describe Horner as any kind of independent champion.
Is Horner the anti-government candidate?
Oh, brother. Horner may not have served in public office, but his tentacles have wound around every aspect of government. His partner was a former legislator and he spent several years as a spokesperson spinning tales for the Republican Party. He was ever present in his connections to Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the early days of the T-Paw tenure — and it was only when the conservative wing of the party began to shut out people like Horner that he decided to take an outsider approach to getting “in.”
Is Horner that true centrist, middle-of-the-road guy?
The middle of the road has intermittent painted yellow lines. You don’t drive over them; you stay on one side or the other. I don’t think Horner has any intention of playing the middle in any kind of reality. His budget policies protect whom? Corporations and the wealthy. When the nurses went on strike, whom did he side with? The hospitals. When talking about a football stadium, whom does he champion? The billionaire owner of the Vikings. When he talks about protecting education, what helps to balance his budget? The $1.4 billion shift away from education. When he talks about tax policy, where does he start? A corporate tax cut and taking wealthy income taxes off the table. He gets his revenue from a regressive clothing tax.
So what is Horner?
Well, you get a pretty good clue by his big announcement regarding former GOP legislators endorsing him over Tom Emmer. He has visions of resurrecting the Arne Carlson coalition — moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats joining forces to eke out yet another 35 percent plurality.
And what’s worse, Horner would be a governor who won with barely a third of the vote and absolutely no legislative allies. Horner is not building any Independence Party machinery … have you seen him looking to campaign for any Independence Party candidates? Seen any grass-roots organization? Anybody pounding the pavement?
No, Horner seems to be just another IP candidate looking to boost his own ego — to use the IP platform as a way to get media access, to get a ticket to the debates, to “sell” his way to the governor’s mansion. After all, that is what a PR guy does. He tells us what we want to hear and makes us think that we just have to buy it.
Are we buying it?
Dave Mindeman, of Apple Valley, is the main blogger for mnpACT!, a nonprofit dedicated to progressive issues and ideas.