Politics, Weather, and Why I’m Not Crazy

Oak Grove St., Minneapolis, Minnesota

Oak Grove St., Minneapolis, MN

First…you’d have to be crazy to not love living in Minnesota.  Not perfect, not quite yet, and we do have some really messed up politics and politicians here in Minnesota (whatever happened?!), but it is perfectly perfect enough.  A real Minnesotan might say things are pretty good.

I woke up this morning and my bedroom was a comfortable 55 degrees, perfect sleeping temperature.  I had to leave a window partially open to get to that nice temperature, but that was worth it.  Throughout the night I could hear the occassional nighttime stirrings outside that people with closed windows miss.  I always sleep best this time of the year.

And now I have pajamas, wool robe, and extra thick wool socks keeping me comfortable.  It is late fall and severe winter weather is yet to come.  Sadly, Minnesota doesn’t get the classic Minnesota winters anymore.  Wimpy stuff now.  But it still is winter. 

Speaking of wimpy, Minneapolis declared a Snow Emergency.  For any of my two readers who are not from Minnesota, a Snow Emergency is a series of a parking restrictions meant to keep the streets clear of parked cars so snow plows can work.  This time I think they pulled the trigger a little prematurely.  By the time the Snow Emergency was set to start half of the snow that fell had already melted with more melting to come.  (Note to city officials:  Snow melts above 32 degrees.)

 Weather is great in Minnesota.  There’s something for everyone.  But politics?  I just listed to our state senates new majority leader.  (What was her name?  It is not important.  Koch or something.)  She’s a Republican and in today’s politics that’s all you need to know.  She’s about as creative and engaging as a mound of mud. 

For example, State Senator Koch — or whatever her name is…it doesn’t matter — says “we have to live within our means” and uses the American family analogy.  Snore.  It is hard to be polite with people like this.  There is nothing incorrect about what she is saying, but the context is all wrong.  Why can’t government live within its means?  Because politicians — Republicans in particular — have deliberately underfunded government (cf. Grover Norquist et al.)  They created a problem so they can manipulate a problem.

Minnesota is a great state, but it was a much better state.  Better people with practical and progressive ideas built a thriving state.  Economics, education, environment…civil rights, health care, politics…arts, recreation, business…Minnesota was a leader.  People looked to Minnesota as an example of what could be accomplished when practical people worked together as a community and focused on the common good. 

What happened?

A lot of things happened.  Nationally the mood changed.  Ronald Reagan kicked up the anti-government blame game a notch or two and communicated it effectively to a vulnerable public.  I believe the Minnesota Miracle fell to rhetoric and complaints occurring on the national level.    What has been bad for the United States has been bad for Minnesota. 

Take our governor, Tim Pawlenty.  Here we have a guy who benefited directly from the Minnesota Miracle.  He was raised in an era unafraid to support public goods and services and all of the rest.  Since he has been in politics, Pawlenty has used his petulant leadership style to undo all the advantages that his generation inherited from better Minnesotans.    The Republican legislators following him are no better.

So why aren’t I crazy?  Well…I have facts and reason on my side.  I like good food.  And I love all the crazy weather we get in this state.  How’s that?   The 2010 election was a couple more steps backward, but eventually we will reach a point when the pendulum will reach the peak of its current swing and a new period will begin.  Trust me…eveuntally we will have to act like adults again and act with responsibility and integrity. 

I will write more about that later.  I think my posts are starting to ramble.  Get me some readers to keep me on my toes! 


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