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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

11 Years Ago Today

Category: DFL 2014
Posted: 10/25/13 01:48, Edited: 10/25/13 01:53

by Dave Mindeman

Eleven years ago. Over a decade. I still remember standing at my work station and hearing the special bulletin on the radio. I was stunned. Paul Wellstone's plane was missing.

I could only assume the worst. I was shaken, quite frankly. I tried to keep myself focused but I was finding it quite difficult.

I have this shadow box of Wellstone items on my wall.....


It often inspires me, gives me hope when I see or hear about the frustrating political news of the day. Wellstone was one of those rare commodities who wouldn't accept frustration....he would just act.

The mnpACT name of this site actually stands for Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. Progressive action is what Wellstone would embody. And he was a master of pulling you into that action.

I remember one time when we lived in Rochester, Wellstone came to promote candidates and my wife was invited to introduce him at the rally. The event was on a local campus, outside of town, but when word got around that Wellstone would be there, the students came running. It was held in an entry foyer with stairwells along the side and the floor and stair wells were packed.

Paul had everyone in the palm of his hand (as he always did) and the echoes through the hallways were loud and boisterous. The sounds brought in more students to see what was going on.

He could easily get you to relate to him, his cause at the time, or the person he was excited about. And he would move people to action. Not just give support, but real pounding doors action.

The DFL in Minnesota has had some success in the past few cycles. Paul Wellstone would be happy right now. When he was running for that third Senate term, we were in the midst of the George W. Bush years and Paul was having to use every bit of his political skills to keep himself in the race. He was in that close race when his plane went down. Not only did we lose him, but his wife, Sheila, his daughter, Marcia and some fine campaign staff people. It was a very, very tough day for the state, but especially for the progressive movement....and not just here but for the country.

Yes, Wellstone would be happy with how far the DFL has come recently. But you know what? He still would be working just as hard now as he did during that tough campaign in the Bush years.

He would still be exhorting us to do more. To give more. To ACT more. As long as there was a civil right being threatened....as long as someone's vote was being disenfranchised.....as long as the poor needed a champion....as long as an injustice needed to be fixed....Paul Wellstone would be there, shouting at the top of his longs, making us listen and exhorting us....


That legacy continues....we still have much work to do....and like Paul's spirit, that call to action will be there forever.
comments (2) permalink
10/25/13 14:32
Wellstone won my admiration when he went after the Senator Jesse Helms by saying Helms:

"...represents everything to me that is ugly and wrong and awful about politics."

My memory of seeing Wellstone make that speech is that it made me stand and applaud him in my own living room.

10/25/13 06:28

That Wellstone voice is missing in Minnesota.

When I read of the Head Start cuts, I wonder when the last time John Kline visited one of these facilities ... and I can picture Paul Wellstone with a television camera crew following, talking to the parents whose children have been sequestered.

Then I read that John Kline is protesting allowing minimum wage for healthcare aides, and could envision Paul Wellstone protesting too ... protesting that it should not wait until 2015 to start.

Or I read about the need for Voter ID, and could see Paul Wellstone battling for early voting.

And when I read that 22 veterans kill themselves everyday, I know that Paul Wellstone would have been battling for their mental healthcare.

Yet, there are other issues where I suspect that you might see Paul Wellstone glad to see that changes are slowly happening ... when I read that Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed in the Senate committee with bi-partisan support and the number of business groups supporting immigration reform ... there is hope.

But for me, the lasting memory is the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act approved in 2008 ... my memory is not about the Act ... it's the memory of John Kline offering an amendment to strip the name of the bill.


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