The highlights of the premier issue of Checks & Balances feature a thoughtful article by former Congressman Tim Penny (D-MN) with a call for leadership that addresses many of our long-term concerns as a nation; we call this Lead By Example. This is followed by an insightful discussion with Carleton College Professor Steven Schier on the state of Minnesota’s political climate in a section titled Thinker’s Corner. Finally, a compelling article from former State Representative Pamela Neary (D-MN) on the elusive swing voter is found under Words Of Wisdom. We also have a place for our readers to convey their thoughts and ideas in External Opinions. We intend to provide a new issue every two months

It is important to explain the context and the purpose of this Web page so that you will understand where we are coming from.

In this ever-changing political world, few sources actually challenge the frontier. In this publication, we intend to disprove the myth that a lack of new ideas and fresh perspectives exists. Each article found here will not be heaped with tired old political tripe but is intended to push the political envelope.

We are seeking to open a conversation that will help define the changing Minnesota electorate. How will the role of past political alignments change as we move toward the 21st century? What are the issues of concern to the elusive swing voter? How will the established political parties respond? We seek to address many of these questions here.

The impetus for this discussion was brought about from a number of conversations based mostly in frustration and dissatisfaction. Claims are frequently made that those who care about people (Democrats) lack any new ideas or only propose tired solutions. We fundamentally refute this. The Democratic party has a long tradition and a great history. But in order for that history to continue, there must be change.

Former Vice-President and US Senator Hubert H Humphrey, the father of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said: “If I believe in something, I will fight for it with all I have, but I do not demand all or nothing. I would rather get something than nothing. Professional liberals want the fiery debate. They glory in defeat. The hardest job for a politician today is to have the courage to be a moderate. It’s easy to take an extreme position.” This position embodies the focus of the words you will find here.

The battle of extremes disables our political system. Appealing to the radical fringe for party endorsement serves no one’s best interest. People committed to victory at all costs leave only wreckage in their wake. We seek to create a politics of tolerance that is devoid of personal attacks. A person who agrees with you the majority of the time is your ally, not your enemy. We need to build a party as the DFL party was originally formed, through coalitions. We hold a guiding set of principles which differentiates our party from others. We need to emphasize ideas that draw us together rather than those that force us apart.

The goal is to engage in a debate about Minnesota’s future. The purpose is to find out what ideas and policies will stir people to act. Minnesota has a fine tradition of public service, strong support for an innovative public policy, and a record of achievement that is noted nationwide. We need to embark on a journey that will prepare us to enter the next millennium. The traditional appeals of either right or left are exhausted. We need a rational, thoughtful political dialogue that addresses what we can accomplish together in our state.

Editor In Chief,
Shawn Towle