I don’t know if this should be the start of statement or the start of question. Should it be “What’s wrong with the DFL is A, B, C, and D…” or should it be “What’s wrong with the DFL is…”?
I’m not sure, but I can say for certain that something is wrong in Minnesota. Come on Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, get your act together!
Baird Helgeson explains the simple — yes, simple — issues that threaten to “stall” this year’s legislative session. This is a year when the Democrats control both the state house and senate and have a Democrat governor. And still the “key issues” are unresolved.
Perhaps it is reasonable to expect disagreement among Democrats. We have to give them credit for being thoughtful. However, have the Democrats maintained control of their own debates? When a representative like Kurt Zellers — no big thinker — can make hay out of suggesting there’s a choice between $80 million state construction project for a Senate office building and seasonal potholes, I think it is time to pull in the reins and get control of things.
Why can’t Democrats close the doors, have some private meetings, and get their business in order?
Frankly, I think someone should rap Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk knuckles for his (strange and cowardly, in my opinion) idea to muddle the minimum wage proposals with a mix of legislation and voter referendum. And House Majority Leader Erin Murphy seeking other options before supporting a new Senate office building strikes me as unnecessarily bothersome.
More than anything, however, these disagreements make Democrats look intimidated by the issues. I say this because we are reminded time and time again that politicians are stepping carefully because this is an election year. That’s reasonable. But really, in the end how much will all of this matter and how will it matter?
More than a strong leader, it seems that this party needs a strong strategist. Democrats would do well with a consistent message and unity behind it. More than anything else, they need courage. Democrats need to make a strong case for their good ideas. Instead Democrats appear to feel vulnerable to opposition attacks.
Consider the issues before the state’s Democrats. They are winners. The door is open to increase wages, promote state-backed construction, and cut taxes. The Republicans have nothing with which to counter other than their vague “job creation” rhetoric. They have no record to run on, no specific alternatives.
The state is not broke, the economy here is among the best in the nation, and Democratic-backed solutions can get some of the credit. Where is that message? There is valid, studied reason to approve more state investment in construction and infrastructure improvements. Unlike the mythical jobs that hold the GOP in thrall, these projects will create real jobs and do it now. That is powerful political ammo.
The public overwhelmingly stands behind increasing the minimum wage. Politically that is safe. But more importantly, it will deliver long-term economic benefit. If Democrats get a handle on this they can gain long-term political benefit from it, too.
Republican policy hasn’t delivered jobs in decades, in fact it has cost millions of jobs, but many Americans still think they are the so-called job creators. Why is this so? They control too much of the nation’s political narrative. By engaging this internal policy fights publicly, Democrats cede ground to the Republicans, giving them additional space for their anti-government opinions.
In the end, where the hell is the pride? The Democrat’s job-creating proposals to build, increase wages, and pull back unneeded taxes are winners. Let’s not cut those short. Republicans are idiots. They have no ideas. Don’t be bullied by the losers. That’s what someone needs to tell Minnesota’s Democrats — behind closed doors, perhaps — but Democrats need to own that fact. You can play the bi-partisan card AFTER you’ve decided to stick to your agenda.
That’s what Republicans do and it’s about all they do, but they do it well. Republicans understand strategy. What about Democrats? I would argue no, and that’s a big part of what is wrong with the DFL. Fix it and lead.