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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Make America Hate Again? Thanksgiving Reflections

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 11/26/15 13:41

by Dave Mindeman

Today is Thanksgiving. A time of reflection. Of hope. Of giving thanks.

Let me get back to you on that.

It is difficult to reflect on good things and charitable thoughts when Donald Trump is dominating the media spotlight.

When he talks about "Make America Great Again", his rhetoric brings memories of Jim Crow, black lists, internment camps, registries....

The cap needs to be changed to: "Make America Hate Again"

Can a spirit of Thanksgiving exist in this environment? Has love thy neighbor morphed into - suspect thy neighbor? Every year you hear how America is thankful for its diversity...for its melting pot of nationalities. Do we not think that way anymore? Have we changed that much?

Republicans, we need to talk. I know we have our differences, but is this really a reflection of what you want? Does Donald Trump represent your values? Seriously? I wonder what that 20 to 30% Trump support in the polls really looks like. I mean, is it all hate? Are they the white supremacists?...the survivalists?...the skinheads?....the Neo-Nazis? Do they represent the Republican Party?

I can't believe that conservative values have cratered that far to allow Trump to be the face of the movement. I'd don't mind an argument on taxes or the size of government or abortion rights or foreign policy....but really, have personal insults become the norm? Do we need to even talk about registering members of a religion? Do we want a Commander in Chief who fights terrorism by "getting a feeling"? Is "get him the hell out of here" something we have to get used to?

I know there is a lot of mistrust in the government out there. Republicans have their complaints. Democrats have their own. But America is not "this". We are not going to devolve into a sectarian country. We are not just Christians or Muslims or Buddhists. We are not just conservatives or liberals. We are not just Irish or Italian or Arab or African. We are just American...plain and simple. We share values. We share unique ideas. We are the innovators. The beacon. The example.

But we are not Trump's America. I know that for certain.

And I am thankful for that. I am thankful that we can ask the questions. That we can challenge the statements. They can't do that in Russia. They can't do that in China. We can do it. We have always done it.

And more than ever...we need to do it now.

Have a happy Thanksgiving. And today, more than ever before, lets reflect on what America is. It isn't about being "great again". We are great right now and it is time that we let the world know that.
comments (1) permalink

Thinking Forward Regarding Transportation

Category: Transportation
Posted: 11/25/15 04:26

by Dave Mindeman

Transportation is becoming a crisis of its own. Yeah, I know we have a dozen things on our plate - nobody seems to want to be talking about groads and bridges and light rail. But we are going to have to start addressing it....and soon.

With gas prices dipping below $2 a gallon, we should seize an opportunity. Yes, Middle East tensions could reverse that trend very quickly. But this small windfall for commuters will, more than likely, increase consumption and add to the wear and tear on the transportation infrastructure.

We should be thinking forward. I can hear the condescension from the GOP already, but now is the time for a gas tax...dedicated solely to transportation projects. I would also suggest that we make this tax fairly substantial - maybe 25 cents a gallon - but also make it mandatory that it sunset....that it be temporary.

Let's consider a 5 year term with this increase and then it leaves. I don't know if we have a 5 year window of lower gas prices, but we do have an immediate need for repairs and fixes. We could also consider addressing some of our commuter bottlenecks that cost us time and idling fuel.

As a gas tax, this money would have to go to transportation. Sure, we have had the legislature fiddle with these things before, but if we make a concrete budget for the projects we need right now, we can move the funds quickly and efficiently.

There is another reason for making this increase substantial and temporary. Our fossil fuel consumption needs to decrease faster. If we make repairs that make our roads more efficient, we save future dollars. If we complete light rail projects more quickly, we save on consumption, green house gases, and future money. If we reduce the bottlenecks in our commutes, it saves time, green house gases, and again, future dollars.

I know that many people will be shaking their heads at this, but a little pain for the temporary present could pay off big for forward thinking.

We could upgrade infrastructure which would be good for business, good for development, good for the environment, and a gift to the next generation.

We have taken so much away from our future; it's time we gave something back.
comments (5) permalink

Minnesota Is Not Immune

Category: Society
Posted: 11/24/15 15:48

by Dave Mindeman

I had always thought (well hoped) that Minnesota was at least a little better when it came to race relations. That Minnesota "nice" translated into more cooperation in dealing with the problems that lead to confrontational issues in regards to minorities.

Well, I was wrong.

At first I had an ongoing frustration with the educational achievement gap. That there was something wrong with how we approach learning when it comes to minority children. Then I was disappointed by the "unforced" racial segregation that plagues our state in our urban areas and our inability to address that situation. Then I was even more disappointed with the inordinately high black and Hispanic unemployment rate in our state. And our continuing failure to achieve government lowball ratios regarding minority firm hiring. More and more I have come to realize that Minnesota has a deep racial problem.

And then there is last night.

Not only has there been a lack of support for BlackLivesMatter in their ongoing quest to expose problems in the Minneapolis police department, but in addition, here, in Minnesota of all places, we have an element that thinks shooting unarmed peaceful protesters is somehow an acceptable reaction.

Seriously, I am at a loss for words. I fear that we have been ignoring a long standing problem that has been festering and metastasizing deep into our "nice" culture.

I think it has become more visible because our national political rhetoric seems to allow for race baiting these days. But that is only a symptom and we have had this problem for some time. It is right there in all the statistical data - but we can't seem to translate those statistics into real time people solutions.

It was interesting that Sen. Bakk first initiated addressing these racial problems and disparities in special session. And it was predictable that the GOP would scoff at the notion. But the utter disdain shown by a tweet from the CD7 GOP calling it a #NegroProblem crossed another line.

We have been crossing a lot of lines lately. Trump with Muslim registries. Trump and Carson both saying they remember news footage of Muslims in New Jersey cheering when the towers fell. Police shootings of unarmed black citizens has become part of the daily lexicon. In Chicago, they will be indicting a police officer with first degree murder for killing a 16 year old African American male....and they have video which is even more deeply disturbing than the "usual" pictures. Chicago is bracing for massive unrest.

But I had thought Minnesota was a place that those lines weren't crossed. That at least we made an effort to recognize and address these issues.

And maybe we are more aware of them than a lot of places, but we have still failed. We have failed miserably.

I am not sure that beginning a racial dialogue in a special session can do anything of substance, but the conversation is still worth having. No protester should have to fear for his or her life when drawing attention to a very real and present problem. It is appalling what happened last night. It is shameful.

And I have lost confidence in our police. When I watched Almanac last Friday, I had hoped to gain some incite into the viewpoints being expressed. But when I listened to the police union head, Robert Kroll, make his arguments, I visibly flinched. His statements were neanderthal in intelligence. To seriously use the arguments from the lawyers for the police as "factual" data is almost criminal in itself.

We have a problem Minnesota. A deep one and it is getting worse not better. Last night was a wake up call for a lot of us. It was for me.

I realized once and for all....Minnesota is not immune.
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