Minnesota Report

 When competing political ideologies are at play, the ability to achieve consensus is a far way island, and reaching it, is a distant, remote and implausible likelihood. The reason being political people are hard-pressed to see beyond their own vested interests—especially in an election year—and fail to envision any collective outcome different than beating the opposition political party. In February, at the beginning of the legislative session, the members of the legislature sequestered at the University of Minnesota, without public scrutiny to learn lessons intended to foster compromise, which in the end failed.

In spite of attending the One Minnesota Legislative Policy Conference—which discussed negotiation skills and tools and an end-of-session redesign—at the onset of the legislative session, in the end in May, it was an all too familiar routine result and the host of good intensions were sacrificed on the altar of political partisanship. What likely was missing, was a buying in of all parties to the fundamental premise of One Minnesota, since this was the slogan of Governor Tim Walz’ campaign (DFL-MN). We doubt there is a universal idea of what this means, especially since most perspectives are determined by where one sits.

More apt, in our opinion, we are a Fractured Minnesota, a state where we are on the verge of a significant election during a global pandemic, we all witness differing ideologies on how to respond to this crisis. The pressures have been juxtaposed as a choice between saving lives and livelihoods, but we believe there is a different aspect in play and the competing tensions are saving lives over maintaining lifestyles.

A substantial issue as a backdrop is the legislative majorities are essential in determining the legislative political boundaries which remain in effect for the next ten years. Through the US Census, Minnesota will see the amount of impact Greater Minnesota has shrink in a major way through redistricting and the 2020 election is the last opportunity for this constituency to flex its proverbial muscles, but only if the Republicans maintain control of the state senate, regain the majority in the state house or both.

At the top of the ballot is the most influential element in the 2020 election, Donald J Trump (R). He is both a divisive and unifying factor depending upon your particular perspective. When he began his assessment of the COVID-19 epidemic, he first dismissed it as a hoax, then downplayed it as something that will magically end, proposed treating it with hazardous chemicals, like drinking bleach and finally pressed for a resolve of acceptance of the loss of life in order to get the economy back up and running. The sacrifice to be made by those who are unable to survive the experience.

The nostalgia he projects for before COVID-19 is a bizarre approach to denial it ever occurred and he is seeking a V-curve surge in the economy to save his reelection. As he touts the improbability of a magic vaccine, or if no vaccine manifests, then people just need to move forward lacking one we are left without any guidance from the Chief Executive.  Since our economy is so heavily dependent upon consumerism.

In this time of the pandemic and the Trump approach it brings to mind Thorstein Velben and his societal critique of what he called Conspicuous Consumption, which at the turn of the 20th Century warned of “This boom has seen a binge of consumption that for the first time human longevity might turn down because we are eating ourselves to death. Death by consumption used to explain a fatal case of tuberculosis, now it could explain the rise in obesity, diabetes and cancers.”

This sets up the structured differences. Those who seek to protect and save lives through stay-at-home orders, social distancing, mask wearing and increased hygiene techniques are prescribing their beliefs on others through government dictates. The oppression of a single set of standards is in direct opposition to a more lassez faire economic approach, less government involvement in personal decisions, accept abortion, and a more NIMBY (Not in my backyard) perspective.

The Minnesota response to COVID-19 was determined by Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN), who is not up for reelection in 2020, through Executive Orders in mid-March. This unilateral approach was tacitly accepted by Republicans initially, but began to lose acceptance and stableness as time wore on. People who were forced to contend with staying-at-home, homeschooling their children and lose of economic stability became greater pressures than public health.

Now the sharp divides have returned and the two sides will now battle this out at the ballot box in November, the question is will Walz by fiat present his own magic bullet and declare the November election to be applied through a Universal mailed ballot and all eligible citizens be mailed a ballot whether or not they are preregistered. Again, as we have often said, its not the election process Republican fear, it’s the impact of turnout they are unable to contend with.