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From ‘One Minnesota’ to ‘Won Minnesota’: Why Walz and the DFL are in danger of losing their agenda this year

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David Schultz
Slightly more than two months into the 2019 Minnesota legislative session it is becoming clearer that “One Minnesota” has morphed into “Won Minnesota” and that the DFL strategy to move its agenda is premised less on consensus than on the belief that it won the 2018 elections and its agenda deserves to be enacted. If that is the case then the DFL will get little of what it wants.

Tim Walz ran successfully on a “One Minnesota” slogan and platform. It was an effort to appeal to unity both during the DFL primary to bring together various parts of the party to support him, and to overcome polarization that grips the U.S. and Minnesota. It is unclear how much this message elected him and Democrats to take control of the House or whether it was the trickle-down effect from an unpopular President Trump, a weak GOP gubernatorial candidate, and a significant money advantage the DFL had. Yes, Walz won 54 percent of the statewide vote, but only 22 of 87 counties. He won the same places where Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar, the other statewide DFL candidates and House candidates won. The state is geographically polarized.

Based on a majority vote, he claimed a mandate, as all victors do. He then appointed a Cabinet exclusively DFL and mostly Metro-centric. Since taking office he and the DFL-controlled Minnesota House have pursued a largely urban-liberal agenda, although there are strong elements that appeal to the suburbs. In many and most cases pursuing a “to the victor belongs the spoils” line or arguing that being in the majority means you get to move the agenda is perfectly acceptable in a political system premised upon majority rule. Yet in the case of the Walz administration there are several problems.

Narratives and messaging matter

First, even if the Walz-DFL agenda has elements that appeal to Republicans and rural Minnesota, it has failed to articulate that. It has failed to make the case to rural Minnesota how and why the gas tax, legalizing recreational marijuana or regulating guns are to their advantage. Narratives and messaging matter, and the Walz administration and the governor have done a bad job here.

Second, there seems to be a belief by Walz and the DFL that their issues are widely popular (and they maybe), fair, and correct, and therefore Republicans should simply do the right thing and go along with the DFL and vote for them. Maybe in a different era this might happen, but in the polarized “winner take all” or zero-sum-game politics of today that is not the reality. Simply having the right issues will not cut it.

Third, even in an era that was much less polarized, having the right issues was not enough. One had to do the heavy legislative work of building consensus, horse-trading, or developing coalitions to get the votes needed. Walz and the DFL are either not doing that, or not doing it effectively. Think about the recent defeat of legalized recreational marijuana in Minnesota. Walz seemed indignant that the Senate did not support it. At some point he and the DFL need to ask what is it the GOP needs to support it beyond just saying they should vote for it because polls indicate public support. The same crash of reality will soon hit when it comes to the ERA, guns, the gas tax, and a host of other DFL items.

The real art of legislating

One needs to ask what incentive the GOP has to support them and then figure out what deals are possible to be able to move closer to that. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka represents 35 GOP senators who have constituencies back home who do not necessarily support the DFL agenda. To get it through the Senate and secure GOP votes he and the other senators have to be able to tell their constituents what is in it for them. This is the real art of legislating, and so far this work or effort seems to be missing.

There are about two months to go in the 2019 legislative session. A lot can happen, and agreement on much legislation is still possible. But already we see how the DFL is losing on many issues, and may well get far less than it thought it would this year. Its strategy of “One Minnesota” may have changed to we “Won Minnesota,” thinking that straight majoritarianism would be enough to move a legislative agenda. However, with divided government and a political system that balances majority rule and minority rights, this approach is a recipe for failure.

David Schultz is a Hamline University professor of political science and a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. His latest book is “Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter.” 


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Comments (67)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/19/2019 - 08:31 am.

    Mr. Walz should have run for election on a 20 cent a gallon tax increase and a “huge” increase in fees he is now proposing. That would have been the honest approach.

    After Dayton has grown the MN budget by 50% in 7 years the taxpayer are seeing more of the same from the new Governor.

    After the election he then proposes a huge increase in spending and taxes. It turns out that Mr. Walz is just another “tax an spend” DFL type who says he cares for the poor and middle class – but turns and taxes them.

    The story goes that one reporter once asked John Dillinger why he robbed banks. His reply was “that is where the money is.” Mr. Walz understands the money is with the poor and middle class and he is out to get it.

    • Submitted by Michael Friedman on 03/19/2019 - 01:01 pm.

      “the money is with the poor”

      Orwellian language has filtered down from the president to his supporters. And next? That the problem with the progressive income tax or capital gains tax is that it soaks hourly workers? That the chief beneficiary of eliminating the estate tax is the person receiving public assistance?

      • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/19/2019 - 03:19 pm.

        “…the money is with the poor and the MIDDLE CLASS.” (do you work for CNN?)

        Mr. Walz is not proposing and increase in the income tax or the rates – but a regressive tax that hurts the poor and middle class especially hard.

        Of course – you can raise the income tax on the rich all you want and never get the money to do what the DFL wants to do. There is not enough money or rich people in the State.

        The only way to do what the DFL wants to do in increase regressive taxes on the poor and middle class.

        Minnesota’s poor already pay a higher rate in the income tax than many other State rates imposed on their rich.

        I am glad to here that you support regressive taxes on the poor and middle class. I just wish Mr. Walz would have run on a 20 cent a gallon tax and a huge increase in many fees or as the DFL called them during the T.Paw years – – taxes.

        • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/20/2019 - 07:59 am.

          Mr Gotzman, do you agree that the state needs to increase investment in roads? If so, what is your plan to pay for it?

          Your argument seems to be that we can’t tax the rich (there are none left in MN!) and the “poor and middle class” shouldn’t have to pay either.

          IMO a gas tax (as opposed to gen fund funding) allocates cost for shared roads most efficiently. Even better would be some way to track axle weight and mileage, but the technology will have to wait. For now a tax on fuel is the closest/easiest way to apportion.

          • Submitted by Matthew Steele on 03/20/2019 - 08:19 am.

            Not sure why people keep claiming the gas tax is regressive. People who are too poor to drive or drive much pay less than those who choose to drive more.

            It’s time to end the cross-subsidy of sprawl-inducing road expansion from the general fund.

            • Submitted by Clint Anderson on 03/21/2019 - 08:45 am.

              Because it IS regressive. perhaps the poor drive less because they can’t afford to drive everywhere they need to go?
              They also tend to drive older, less efficient cars.

              How about current automobile taxes ALL go to roads and bridges and not a portion of them going to bike paths and trains..

              then ask me about a 20 cent hike pigged to a unknown inflation table with no cap.

              • Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/25/2019 - 01:25 pm.

                Clint, the Minnesota Constitution dedicates the user fees generated by gas taxes, tab fees and motor vehicle sales taxes “solely for highway purposes.” That money can’t be used for public transit.

                In Minnesota, “user fees” provide most of the money for highways, but not for local roads. The state gas tax provides 28 percent of the highway funding, license tab fees cover 23 percent, motor vehicle sales taxes account for 14 percent, federal aid supplies 24 percent, money borrowed by selling bonds provides 7 percent and other highway revenues account for 3 percent.

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 03/20/2019 - 08:45 am.

      Walz campaigned on raising the gas tax. Anyone who claims otherwise either wasn’t paying attention or is lying.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/19/2019 - 08:35 am.

    Not sure why you’d advance an agenda for outstate Minnesota when they didn’t support you. Elections have consequences.

    • Submitted by Clint Anderson on 03/21/2019 - 08:50 am.

      wow.. talk about selfish..

      so because some in outstate didn’t vote for him (the same guy who said it’s just cows and rocks in greatest Minnesota) he’s just gonna ignore outstate?

      Don’t forget, he gave us MANY reasons NOT to vote for him. He insulted us and because we are outstate, we use more fuel than a uber riding bus riding city dweller. We also love our guns out here (democrats gun owners do as well) and we all know what city democrats think of guns.

      we could just cut the cities off from electricity (not made in the city) milk and beef (after all, it’s just cows and rocks out here)

      But, if you want rocks, we’ll still sell those field landmines to you.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/19/2019 - 09:53 am.

    So the sacred “centrists” cow of “over-reach” makes it predictable comeback. That’s EXACTLY how the Democrats lost the House and Senate. Instead of fixing things when they had the chance, they left them them broken out fear of over-reach, and then lost because Republicans accused them of leaving things broken.

    It’s still somewhat stunning to see “analysis” like this ignoring the fact that liberal policies don’t ignore the consensus, they ARE the current consensus.

    Walz “won” on this agenda, and this agenda is a “one” Minnesota agenda because it serves all Minnesotans, whether Republican voters like it or not. The “centrist” advice that politicians abandon the agendas that win elections has been thoroughly discredited by decades of lost elections. Next.

    This reflexive fear of changing a failed status quo is quite stubborn but also quite incoherent. Essentially the “centrist” analysis is that failed compromises are more popular at the ballot box than successful progress is fatuous. So voters won’t care what kind of results Walz and the Democrats produce, they’ll vote for Republicans because they don’t want Democrats to change anything? This is simply absurd.

    The other obvious absurdity is the notion that Democrats could get Republican support for anything other than moving a few deck chairs around. One can only support this delusion by ignoring almost EVERYTHING Republicans actually say.

    Here’s what Walz et al. need to do: Fight for and pass as much popular and effective legislation and policy you can. Then bash the crap out of Republicans for opposing all of it. THAT’S how you get the Senate back, keep the House, and then stay in power. Do the job, fix stuff, solve problems, serve constituents. Anyone who thinks voters won’t vote for that… is telling you how to lose elections.

    • Submitted by Adam Miller on 03/19/2019 - 02:13 pm.

      Well said.

    • Submitted by lisa miller on 03/19/2019 - 06:07 pm.

      I am wondering though-if he does this, do the Democrats then lose those swing areas next time around? We have a split legislature. I agree roads and infrastructure need money. I think where many middle and working class get upset is that they do feel like they are paying more than their share and not seeing what they get. Also, when they read about MLARS, DHS debacles including the recent day care Noble report, they see wasted money and more people at management level getting ahead with few results. Meanwhile we have some politicians who think inequality is someone who can’t afford a headless phone set so why support hands free only phones in a car. Or those who focus on fining those driving too slow vs what to do about the high number of crashes or opioid deaths. I think focus on the top 2 things that you want to fund and go for it but also put in place managers who know where the money is going and stop thinking you can do it all and that you will win over some in the senate no matter the cause.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/20/2019 - 10:25 am.

        Lisa, are you assuming that “swing” voters don’t care about actual results? This is the thing, you might be abstracting something that’s actually very very concrete. Why would “swing” voters vote out politicians that actually deliver better representation and result? Are you going to vote out the guys who build your roads, restore your LGA, and get high speed internet out to you simply because you don’t think they’re “moderate” enough? They had to literally change the US Constitution to keep FDR from being re-elected indefinitely. “Swing” districts are only “swing districtes”… until they’re not.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/20/2019 - 11:02 am.

        It should not be forgotten that we have a divided legislature because the Senate was not elected IN 2018. Paul Gazelka is very fortunate to be majority leader.

        • Submitted by Clint Anderson on 03/21/2019 - 08:51 am.

          you should also not forget that the republicans won both special elections after the 2018 election.

          • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/21/2019 - 09:18 pm.

            With special elections, it’s not who wins or loses, it’s how the candidates perform relative to the partisan lean of the district.

            If you’ll recall, the first several special elections in 2017 were won by Republicans. There was a fair amount of angst among lefties. But what was important was that the the GOP candidates were nonperforming against the partisan lean of those districts. So while a cursory reading of the tea leaves made it appear that the GOP wouldn’t get swamped in 2018, a deeper dive showed the tsunami that was to come.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/20/2019 - 02:25 pm.

      Maybe this only goes to how meaningless these kind of labels are, but Walz was seen as the moderate/centrist candidate in the primary. He was my candidate, if that tells you anything.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/21/2019 - 11:34 am.

        Walz tacked “left” to a significant degree, as “moderate” Democrats almost always do. And he’s being criticized NOW for not returning to station after being elected as a moderate like Democrats typically do.

        I ended up voting for Walz, and thus far I’m happy with his more liberal agenda and style, and I hope he stays the course with it.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/19/2019 - 10:49 am.

    I’m inclined to agree with Paul Udstrand’s final paragraph, and Dr. Schulz’s column strikes me as “sour grapes.” From my house, it appears that the DFL is governing, or at least trying to govern, for the majority of Minnesotans. In olden times, that would have gotten a resounding endorsement as “democracy in action.”

    Now they’re being criticized for not being accommodating enough to a Republican agenda? Where was the reverse of that sentiment when Republicans controlled the government, as it did when I arrived in Minnesota?

    Increasing gas taxes provides dedicated funding for road-building and repair – do rural Minnesotans prefer dirt or gravel to pavement? Moreover, higher gas taxes provide that funding honestly, rather than pulling several hundred million from the general fund to use for roads – as Republicans have done in lieu of paying for roads honestly. When Mr. Gotzman complains about someone favoring “tax and spend,” I always wonder what his alternatives are for providing basic government services. There ain’t no free lunch.

  5. Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 03/19/2019 - 12:05 pm.

    I didn’t know that increasing LGA funding was “ignoring rural Minnesota”. Or imposing a gas tax that we need to fund our roads, that has majority support in polling.

    The Republicans, as always throw stones, but then when asked, have no plans to fix anything.

    Perhaps Mr. Schulz is upset he didn’t get appointed to the Met Council?

    • Submitted by Clint Anderson on 03/21/2019 - 08:52 am.

      the two largest collectors of LCA are St Paul and Minneapolis. Both are in the millions.. 10s of millions if I recall correctly.

      my city would do just fine without the low 5 figures it gets from LCA.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/21/2019 - 10:29 am.

        No, it probably wouldn’t.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/22/2019 - 12:37 pm.

        I know that conservatives have difficulty with economics, so we’ll have to go over this again.

        Saint Paul is near the bottom of LGA on a PER CAPITA BASIS. MPLS is not much better off.

        Per person, that’s all that matters when comparing LGA.

  6. Submitted by Pat Terry on 03/19/2019 - 12:52 pm.

    Man, this piece is so misguided, dishonest, and just plain awful, I don’t even know where to start.

    Walz and the DFL crushed it in November, and Walz won in a number of the Senate districts Republicans will be defending in 2020. I don’t think its the DFL’s agenda that’s going to be a problem.

    The DFL agenda does a lot for the real problems facing rural Minnesota. Unfortunately, Schultz just relies on lazy stereotypes to conclude otherwise.

  7. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 03/19/2019 - 01:32 pm.

    The leaders and the governor all met early on to see what they can work with. The consensus out of that was promising by all accounts. Then Walz struck forward with his budget that was wishful thinking. And a large portion of the proposed gas tax proposed is to go to the general fund. Elections do have consequences so the House/Gov needs to work with the Senate. That’s the way it is. You can chant ‘it’s a mandate by the voters’ all you want. But remember that a lot of districts that flipped from GOP to DFL were by very slight margins. Come across as a metro-only tax and spend liberals as the Gov and House are showing, those districts re going to lip back real quick. That’s what Schultz is talking about here. The GOP has nothing to lose.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/19/2019 - 02:56 pm.

      Nope, nothing to lose. Other than a slim two vote majority in the one body they still control. Right before the decennial redistricting. That the DFL can use the Wisconsin GOP playbook for. Consequences indeed.

      What? Me worry?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/19/2019 - 04:17 pm.

      There was no consensus with Republicans, nothing was “promising” in any way shape or form. Republicans always say want some bipartisan work, but then it’s “no-no” politics the minute anyone actually proposes anything but tax cuts.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/20/2019 - 06:44 am.

      Are suburban “swing” districts somehow not a part of the metro now? Why shouldn’t the metro be the focus, that where the people are now, and will increasingly be, in the future. Past a certain point, outstate could find itself safely ignored completely.

    • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 03/20/2019 - 10:36 pm.

      Regarding the 2018 Minnesota House elections,and your comment that “a lot of districts that flipped from GOP to DFL were by very slight margins.” I’m sorry, sir, but you’re mistaken. Your comment had reminded me that the DFL had indeed flipped a number of seats – enough to retake control, anyway – but I couldn’t recall the exact number. It turns out that 18 seats had flipped to the DFL. But in checking this out, I was struck by the fact that relatively few races were close at all – on either side of the aisle! So, I scrolled through the results and made a quick list. It turns out that, of the 134 Minnesota House races, only 5 were won by the DFL by “very slight margins,” or, as I defined it, less than 2%. Please note that it was not 5 out of the 18 that had flipped, but 5 out of 134 races total. Still, by either measure, that’s not a lot of districts, and your point remains entirely valid. Both parties need to be mindful of the fact that the voters demand results and accountability, and if those things aren’t there, come Election Day, those incumbents won’t be there either.

  8. Submitted by james herzog on 03/19/2019 - 02:10 pm.

    Blaming Walz for the lack of support in Trump country is funny — lets blame liberals for right wing obstructionism and the fact that right wing policies of racism, ignorance and bigotry are attractive to far too many voters. The question they leave hanging is will right wing voters compromise and reject these deplorable forces? The resounding answer is NO, they won’t. So I don’t care if Republicans will not be convinced – they CAN’T be convinced.

  9. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 03/19/2019 - 02:41 pm.

    A Minnesota native, I moved back here nearly sixteen years ago, so I’ve seen a couple of changes in state government.

    When the Republicans have the majority, they fire up the steam rollers and do anything, even shutting down the government, in attempts to pass their agenda or to prevent legislation that might help vulnerable people.

    Shortly after moving back here, I attended a DFL picnic and happened to talk to a former statewide official. “We used to be able to work with the Republicans,” he said. “But now they’re out for blood.”

    It was the same thing I had seen during my nineteen years in Oregon: the party of Mark Hatfield, environmentalist and opponent of intervention in Central America, had become the party of Bill Sizemore and Kevin Mannix, whose answer to every question was, “Cut taxes and build more prisons.”

    No wonder a Republican hasn’t won the governorship in Oregon since 1982.

  10. Submitted by David Long on 03/19/2019 - 02:47 pm.

    Oh, so now Republicans want to govern and not just divide and conquer? Sorry, Schultz. Too late. The party of no painted themselves into a corner long ago.

  11. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/19/2019 - 04:05 pm.

    As far as I’m concerned, out state voters have one more chance. How they influence their legislators now, and how they vote in 2020 will tell me a lot about what their priorities are and how i will react to that.

    They can continue down the road of petty, contrived division. They can continue to cram things down my throat, like local interference laws. All while their roads crumble into gravel and their waste water treatment plants fail to give them clean drinking water due to ag chemical run off.

    Alternatively, they can vote for people who will fix their roads, bridges, and water treatment facilities, and even get some high speed broad band so their businesses can thrive, and maybe their kids can live in the communities where they grew up. Even if that means their 17 year old high school kids get to pre-register to vote (the horrors!), and Minneapolis gets to raise it’s minimum wage (and possibly make itself less competitive with Luverne or Laq Qui Parle County).

    It’s not even that they treat this as a zero sum gain. Worse than that, they’ve actually been making sure both the Metro and out state get less by voting for folks who tell them they will get their roads fixed but actually do nothing. At least in a zero sum game, somebody gets something.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/20/2019 - 06:04 am.

    As Paul Krugman suggested in a recent article, there just isn’t that much we can do for rural Minnesota apart from loosening environmental regulation. Republicans, in rural Minnesota, campaign mostly against the cities, whining about elitism and whatnot. They have virtually nothing substantive to offer. We talk a lot about polarization but we don’t think a lot about what it means in practical terms. In it’s broadest sense what it means is that messages that help you with one audience hurt you with another audience. The very same messages that are so devastating with rural voters costing the DFL voters in lesgilslative races are the popular issues that allow the DFL to win election statewide.

    This is an old and challenging problem for Democrats. We are an activist party which wants to do things, and doing things is divisive. There have been and always will be voices that advocate caution and the avoidance of overreach. In other words to govern just like Republicans.

  13. Submitted by Tom Crain on 03/20/2019 - 08:36 am.

    Leave it to a political science professor to bemoan the increasing irrelevance of the horse trading of old politics. Of course the author describes this as “the art of” politics. It seems to me those days are gone, and that’s good. I know, I know – it’s called “compromise”. I’ll vote for your common-sensical legal marijuana bill if you’ll just throw me a bone and approve my unrelated amendment to lower this or that tax or fee.

    Does anyone want to go back to the days of the earmarks giving us ‘bridges to nowhere’? Ideas should be debated on the merits and not on a trade of votes. Maybe I’m being idealistic (or unrealistic?) but it seems to me the best way to govern.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/20/2019 - 08:51 am.

    When Democrats win elections and this actually happens prior to that when Democrats look like they will win elections, the first question asked is, “Will they overreach?” My reflexive response to this question is that any attempt to enact the agenda Democrats campaigned on will be deemed an overreach by Republicans, and the self described “pragmatists”. But I do believe that it is worth reminding everyone that the reason why Democrats win election is to govern. This is different from our Republican friends who view governing as the unfortunate consequence of winning elections. It is our job to make it so our reach extends at least as far as our grasp, as opposed to Republicans who are interested in neither reaching nor grasping.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/20/2019 - 10:43 am.

      Actually more often than not Democrats sabotage themselves with anxieties about “over-reach”. This is a feature of a “moderate/centrist” Party that doesn’t recognize it’s own failed compromises.

      I know some people get tired of my critique of “moderates” but we can see a concrete example of self destruction when look MN Democrats and how they run in rural areas. The truth is that liberals and Democrats have always been more attentive and dedicated to working problems in rural America and rural MN. When Dayton got elected his budgets and priorities were far more beneficial to anything that Republicans had ever offered, and Walz is doing the same. Republicans actually blocked most of Dayton’s initiatives once they captured the legislature. But it was Democrats who dialed back Dayton’s rural agenda when THEY had control of the legislature, our of fear of over-reach.

      Nevertheless, Democrats DID deliver more to rural MN than Republicans had, or would have. So I kept waiting to see Democrats roll out strong campaigns organized around narratives of having delivered and gotten things done… but they never did… and they lost because of it. After Democrats had delivered on roads, education, LGA, and a plethora of other budget items; Republican’s were STILL able to gain traction with the disingenuous claim that rural MN had been abandoned by Democrats.

      Why don’t the Democrats run on their most obvious strength? I think its because as moderates they’re afraid of “big guvment”, and being accused of being “big guvment”. The problem is that this moderate buy-into Republican mentalities actually prevents them running effective campaigns. Liberals run on their liberal accomplishments, moderates run away from their liberal accomplishments.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/20/2019 - 09:36 pm.

        I didn’t hear a lot of “tsk-tsking” in 2011, when state’s with GOP trifectas were steamrolling their agendas. Scott walker didn’t say boo during the campaign about busting unions, but he wasted no time in doing it once he was in office. Sam Brownback didn’t compromise with moderates, he trashed Kansas then campaigned against his own GOP moderates.

        Maybe centrists should have offered a compromise, like just busting the unions of local governments and leaving state employee unions alone.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/20/2019 - 10:50 am.

    Actually more often than not Democrats sabotage themselves with anxieties about “over-reach”

    Oh sure, It’s a problem. My own first term congressman thinks she was sent there to solve all the problems in the middle east through the use of vaguely constructed boilerplate language. published in out of town newspapers. The result is a self inflicted cost we shouldn’t have to pay.

    • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 03/20/2019 - 09:13 pm.

      Here in the First District, the problem is almost the opposite. Our first-term Congressman thought he was being sent there to be part of the Republican majority, still in control of the House of Representatives, and that his anti-Muslim and anti-immigration positions would make him a powerful and important new voice in Washington, DC. However, his party lost control of the House. His voice is silent, yet from his moving lips comes, every now and then, the vaguely constructed boilerplate language of a president whose positions are not shared by a majority of the people of Minnesota’s First Congressional District. I have written and emailed his office a total of three times now, requesting clarification of his position on certain policies. I have yet to receive a reply, or even acknowledgement that my requests have even been received. As a member of the now-minority party, I should think he’d have the time to direct a member of his staff – in Washington, or in Mankato or Rochester – to send out the requisite form letter. It would take all of three minutes to do so, and with Congressional franking privileges, it’d be postage-paid. Given that it took me around 60 minutes to compose two emails and write one letter – and I had to pay for the postage – I have borne a larger cost. Representative Hagedorn has borne no cost at all. How ironic: this is a self-inflicted cost that I shouldn’t have to pay!

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/21/2019 - 11:05 am.

      Hiram, If you talking Omar again, you might want to reconsider this practice of going out of your way to attack her at every opportunity. Not only is this how Democrats defeat themselves, but Omar sits in the Foreign Affairs Committee… she’s SUPPOSED to talk about foreign affairs. You obviously don’t like what she says, but your perspective isn’t infallible, and I don’t think it’s even a majority perspective.

      Meanwhile the issue at hand is MN State elections, not the US Congress.

  16. Submitted by Mark Gruben on 03/20/2019 - 08:33 pm.

    Just as an aside, I must say that I appreciate the intelligent, articulate, and respectful tone of the discussion here. It’s truly a pleasure to read comments that, while I may not agree with what is said, I am not repulsed by how it is said. Thank you, one and all.

    Insofar as the “One Minnesota” concept as it pertains to bipartisanship, while Dr. Schultz does makes a valid point, I don’t think it’s a very realistic one – or, at least, not right now. Throughout the 2018 campaign, the overall Republican message seemed to be, basically, “We’re going to win every race, and purge this state of all Democrats forever – and Donald Trump is our insurance policy!” This theme – purge the Democrats – was central to every issue; the Republicans would win, establish a GOP autocracy, then enact sweeping changes, the goal being a sort of Republican Utopia. While not expressed in so many words, it was clear that the Republicans intended an all-or-nothing style of governance, especially when portrayed against a backdrop of Trump-style politics. Needless to say, Democrats found this prospect unacceptable, and most independents were fairly quick to agree. I live in the predominately red First District, and even here, people began to find the message unappealing, so much so that Republican Jim Hagedorn, running for Tim Walz’ soon-to-be-vacant seat, saw his 22-point lead in the polls vanish in the 8 weeks prior to Election Day; he won by .45%. The Democrats won all the statewide races, and both US Senate races, rather decisively. Frankly, in light of the Republican messaging, no one should have been surprised by those results. Likewise, no one should be surprised that Gov. Walz has no Republicans among his Cabinet. After all, had Jeff Johnson won the gubernatorial race, by whatever margin, would he have appointed any Democrats? To Dr. Schultz’ point, however, efforts to seek bipartisanship and compromise are not only admirable, they’re absolutely necessary in a divided government, to achieve anything more than gridlock. Minnesota is in a unique position among States at this time: we have the only divided Legislature in the nation, each party controls one house. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we Minnesotans could show the rest of the country how two-party governance is supposed to work? Ideally, it can and should work. Sadly, however, such idealism is usually the first casualty in partisan warfare.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/21/2019 - 11:19 am.


      “efforts to seek bipartisanship and compromise are not only admirable, they’re absolutely necessary in a divided government,…”

      Historically those “efforts” at bipartisan compromise have actually created the gridlock. The assumption that seeking compromise breaks gridlock is clearly facile since we’ve had three decades of such attempts and three decades of gridlock. You break gridlock by winning elections, taking control, and delivering policies that solve problems. Republican’s have had a deliberate agenda of creating gridlock. When Republicans can’t force their agenda through, as in their failed attempt to repeal Obamacare, they settle for gridlock… it’s their deliberate policy. Whey would expect that compromises with people who promote gridlock, would break the gridlock?

      The other problem is that “gridlock” actually works for the oligarchy, and “centrists” and moderates on the Democratic side of the isles. Moderates prefer “gridlock” over “radical” change, they can live with failed compromises. On basic level the real reason we have “gridlock” is because Democrats have yet to make breaking the “gridlock” a serious priority. Whenever they get into power they decide to settle for gridlock rather than break it. This is where Schultz’s advice has taken us for decades.

  17. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/21/2019 - 10:44 am.

    I have talked with some of my DFL friends who are involved in legislative matters about this, and what they say to me is that there just isn’t an extensive rural political agenda that is going unaddressed by Democrats. And you see this in the way Republicans campaign. They were mad about the Senate office building, they don’t like urban mass transit, they are upset about money going to urban schools. All issues which are beneficial to the cities, but aren’t directly pertinent to rural areas at all. What Republicans are for is lower taxes, policies that mostly benefit their supporters who live in cities that aren’t even in Minnesota.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/21/2019 - 11:26 am.

      Too bad Democrats don’t form a coherent unified campaign message that denounces Republican priorities and broadcasts Democratic priorities and success. The only reason Republicans win with such crappy agendas and priorities is the Democrats don’t get their act together and run against Republicans. Of course it IS difficult to criticize Republican agenda’s AND promise to support them in the form of “compromise” at the same time.

      This is a self imposed, self defeating dilemma for “moderate” Democrats.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/21/2019 - 01:41 pm.

    Too bad Democrats don’t form a coherent unified campaign message that denounces Republican priorities and broadcasts Democratic priorities and success.

    My sense is, and the reason why I don’t like to talk about it when I am in campaign mode is that a lot of what Democrats do in rural areas is simply to ameliorate their decline.

  19. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/21/2019 - 03:14 pm.

    Donald Trump’s greatest political asset is his willingness to be a demagogue. That is, he is willing to make promises that he is either unwilling or incapable of keeping. In particular, he was willing to promise that if elected president he would turn around the economic fortunes of economically depressed areas, areas that had been left behind by the modern economy. As we are seeing, for a number of reasons these promises are in the process of not being kept.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/22/2019 - 08:16 am.

    Let’s sum up the fallacies that inform Mr. Shultze’s perspective.

    1) Bipartisan “compromise” is only effective even in theory when BOTH Parties are committed to progress and problem solving. In practice, over the decades Republicans more often than not simply don’t recognize legitimate crises, let alone seek to find solutions. Trump’s wall is a perfect example of that. Tort reform and abortion are other examples. Republicans don’t recognize crises they manufacture wedge issues.

    2) After decades of failed compromises and gridlock, the Democratic desire for bipartisan “compromise” can only be described as an expression of denial. “Centrist” and moderate Democrats who seek compromise with Fascists at this point are simply not recognizing some basic features of reality.

    3) The practice of seeking compromise with Republicans has actually created the “gridlock” everyone bemoans by endorsing Republican obstructionism.

    4) The premise of “compromise” and “centrism” itself assumes that no policy is the best policy, and that failure is optimal result. This is how the insistence on bipartisan “compromise” produces failed policy and gridlock.

    5) Given the obvious and catastrophic nature of multiple failed compromises from health care to infrastructure, it’s simply incoherent to insist that such compromises are the only possible pathway to electoral success. The idea that voters value “compromise” over effective policy that actually improves their lives is simply facile. This “centrist” delusion that compromise is more compelling than progress not only put Donald Trump in the White House, but it’s been losing elections for decades. the idea that a failed mentality is the only reasonable mentality is simply a rejection of political reality pretending to be political wisdom.

  21. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/22/2019 - 10:28 am.

    You have to compromise with Republicans because they have the votes, enough of them at least to obstruct any deal.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/22/2019 - 11:18 am.

      “You have to compromise with Republicans because they have the votes, enough of them at least to obstruct any deal.”

      This is just circular reasoning that endorses Republican obstructionism. It basically tells us that all Democrats can do is vote for Republican policies. Surely you’ve noticed what an abject disaster that mentality is? Did you not see the Feinstein New Green Deal fiasco?

      You’re letting your election to election etcha-sketch show. Democrats don’t have “win” EVERYTHING today. You can let Republicans block popular and necessary initiatives TODAY, and take their seats in the next election. You have to play a long game AND and short game.

      Republicans don’t compromise with Democrats. Republicans don’t win elections by promising compromise, nor do they enact their legislation with compromise.

      Democrats don’t win by promising compromise either, they don’t win by promising to pass only that legislation that Republicans will let them pass. This is Klobuchar is dead in the water. The only progressive policy she’s endorsed is $15, but she literally promising to compromise that away, so it’s not even a serious endorsement.

      I’m not saying no one should ever compromise, but the idea that failed compromises are the best we can expect from our political system is simply monstrous, and unsustainable.

      You CAN compromise with Republicans on occasion, but that can’t be core political objective. You win elections so you can fix problems without Republican votes if need be. And you hammer Republicans into voting for your legislation if they want to stay in office. The Republican Party is imploding, the idea that you NEED to let THEM set the agenda is simply ridiculous.

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/22/2019 - 01:08 pm.

    This is just circular reasoning that endorses Republican obstructionism.

    Not at all, just an objective fact. We don’t have the votes on our own. The senate is controlled by Republicans. My guess is that if the senate had been up for election in 2018, Democrats would have won both houses but it wasn’t and they didn’t. But it’s also my guess is that there are one or two Republicans in districts where Democrats had success on the house side, who might be more amenable to compromise.

    While Democrats don’t need to win everything today, today is the only day on which anything can be won.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/23/2019 - 08:51 am.

      “Not at all, just an objective fact. We don’t have the votes on our own. The senate is controlled by Republicans.”

      The objective “fact” is that Republicans will never vote for policies we desperately need, so chasing their votes is waste of time and energy. Passing legislation that fails to solve problems with or without Republican votes is likewise a exercise in futility. Republican control of the Senate is not a permanent feature of our government, pretending that it IS a permanent feature is simply obtuse.

      The idea that Democrats can only vote for Republican initiatives is simply ridiculous. You don’t expect Republicans to vote for Democratic initiatives, so why do you require that from Democrats?

      The Democratic Party can’t devote itself to passing failed compromises with Republican participation. Democrats need to focus on winning elections and taking back the Senate. The fact that sooooo many “wise men” of the Democratic party don’t seem to understand this basic political fact is actually quite bizarre. The whole reason we HAVE political Parties is so that they can compete to provide the best representation and governance. We don’t have Political Parties so that they can collaborate in a failure to govern; you ignore THIS fact at your own peril.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/25/2019 - 06:22 am.

        It’s how we got Obamacare done.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/25/2019 - 08:30 am.

          “It’s how we got Obamacare done.”

          Exactly. It’s how kept universal irrevocable health care for everyone OFF the table for 40 years. It’s now we kept 60 million uninsured or under-insured and guaranteed unaffordable health care. You may not have noticed but despite Obamacare, we still have a health care crises.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/25/2019 - 08:38 am.

          Actually, it’s NOT how “we” got Obamacare done… if I remember correctly Democrats passed “Obamacare” without Republican votes. But that’s another story.

          • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/25/2019 - 10:23 am.

            But it had support from Republican constituencies.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/25/2019 - 11:11 am.

              Well, not to nit pick but if you telling us we can pass legislation that appeals to Republican constituents, without Republican votes… why is chasing unnecessary Republican votes an essential feature of your politics?

              Obamacare had what we call “popular” support… so yes, that means SOME Republican constituents supported it. Let’s not over-state the popularity of Obamacare among Republicans.

              • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/25/2019 - 12:52 pm.

                Obamacare got passed because a lot of Republican constituencies like the insurance companies got paid off. If we hadn’t chased them, they would never have signed off. When we think about Republicans we would be well advised to think of the party as a whole, of which, the congressional party is only a small part. And in the era of Trump that part is getting even smaller.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/26/2019 - 10:50 am.

                  So ALL businesses are Republicans now? There’s no way you can claim that Republicans supported the Obamacare legislation. Sure, the health care industry supporter their bailout, but that doesn’t make Obamacare of shining example bipartisan compromise. Either way Hiram, it’s failed policy, it’s left us with a huge and ongoing health care crises that “centrist” Democrats didn’t even want to acknowledge in 2016. And most Democrats were afraid to run on the “success” Obamacare because of it’s dodgy popularity.

                  AND Obamacare may yet implode because instead of building a public option into it, they created the individual mandate which may yet be declared unconstitutional in the courts. Without that mandate Obamacare folds.

  23. Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 03/22/2019 - 10:25 pm.

    Here’s the bottom line…MN is taking over $6000 per capita in state and local taxes. Median is in the neighborhood of $4500. How can things POSSIBLY be as bad as Dems say, and can we justify taking even more?

    That’s $1500 for every one of the 5.6 MM people living here. That is a LOT of money. What are we getting for it? Where does it go? Are things that much better here? (not!)

    Makes no sense to give them more to waste.

    (And BTW, the medians are not places like MS, AL, or WV, It is places like VA, WI, KS, MI, OH. etc.)

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/23/2019 - 09:06 am.


      I’m afraid any analysis organized like this is bound to be garbage. Counting the dollar collected doesn’t tell you anything without looking at the cost and value of the services that money is used to pay for. Furthermore that dollar amount, whatever it may be, doesn’t tell you anything without knowing the over-all income of those who are being taxed.

      In other words we’re not playing a debate game here. Sure, $1,500 per capita is a lot of money, in fact it’s around $2.5 billion. But the state GDP is $350 billion. The state tax share of the economy works out to around .7% of the economy, hardly an unbearable burden.

      Anyone who wants to know how their tax dollars are being spent can always look at the budget.

      Let’s put it this way: one could say that $150k is a LOT of money. Let’s say we find out that Dennis Schminke get paid $150k a year to do whatever he does. Can we say he’s being paid too much just because it’s a “lot” of money?

  24. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/26/2019 - 01:38 pm.

    So ALL businesses are Republicans now?

    No. Some business are Democratic. But health care businesses are Republican.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/27/2019 - 08:14 am.

      “No. Some business are Democratic. But health care businesses are Republican.”

      This is ridiculous claim. Business is business. Industries don’t have partisan designations, they ALL lobby for what they think is their own best interests. And at any rate, the idea that Democrats have to cater to “Republican” industries is a fatuous claim. Yes, the neoliberal “centrist” Democrat mentality may assume that corporations are the most important constituents, but THAT’S actually a problem, not a solution. THAT’S how neoliberals produce so many failed policies.

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