Minnesota Network for Progressive Action

About Comments
The mnpACT! blog welcomes all comments from visitors, which are immediately posted, but we also filter for spammers:
  • No active URLs or web links are allowed (use www.yourweb.com).
  • No drug or pharma- ceutical names are allowed.
  • Your comment "Name" must be one word with no spaces and cannot be an email address.
You should also note that a few IP addresses and homepage URLs have been banned from posting comments because they have posted multiple spam messages.

Please be aware we monitor ALL comments and reserve the right to delete obvious spam comments.

Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Listed on BlogShares

site search

Site Meter
  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Don't Scrap the Minnesota Caucus System!

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/08/08 09:10, Edited: 02/08/08 09:15

by Dave Mindeman

There were a lot of frustrated people at the Tuesday night caucuses but I think the calls for scrapping the system are off the mark. Just because the parties overloaded the system doesn't mean it is irreparably broken.

First of all, this year the State Parties got greedy. They wanted the feel of a state primary condensed into a caucus system. The DFL was more guilty of this than the Republicans. The DFL problem? Putting a binding Presidential Preference ballot (translation = primary vote) into an hour and a half caucus ballot window. Somebody was drinking too much coffee in their executive suite....

The caucus system was never meant to get morphed into some kind of huge primary statement. It is local politics at its local best. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to hold a primary, do it. But don't try to combine a caucus with it.... they are simply incompatible and appeal to distinctly different people.

Because of all the hype, a lot of new people came out to the caucus and the opinions that were developed had a broad range:

This guy got it.

And this guy didn't get it AT ALL!

The new people may, or may not, come back. But they learned about a political process.... it is much more than voting. It is discussing issues, meeting your state and local candidates, and mostly, it is about advocacy... promoting an issue you feel strongly about.

But above all, it is about participation. Anybody can go to a primary and vote....and for a lot of people that is enough; and for many it is all they can do. Single moms, the elderly, and people working double jobs come to mind. But for those of us who need more than that.... who need to feel we are making a difference -- the caucuses satisfy that need to engage.

I hear the calls to scrap the caucuses and bring in the pure primary. And after Tuesday's frustrations, I can understand that. But let's not get into wholesale changes because we are having a uniquely turbulent and volatile election year. I suspect that Tuesday may have been an historical event. We may never have that type of turnout again for 2 or 3 generations.

If you want to make changes.... do what should have been done in the beginning. Broader participation in the Presidential preference, means doing the following:

1. Separate the Presidential Preference ballot from rest of the caucus. Hold it on the same day but find venues where people can vote throughout the day. People need that kind of flexibility. And find a more professional voting mechanism than paper ballots.

2. Make sure everyone has the information and option to come back when the caucuses actually begin. The participation in the actual caucus itself will be greatly reduced but you will probably still get more new people involved than you did before. Keep all the options open but separate enough to accomodate everyone.

3. Educate people on the caucus process. Give citizens the opportunity to understand the caucus system prior to the event. If the parties want to broaden their bases, then they need to reach out to more people and open up the process. It is intimidating to walk into a room full of people and listen to terminology that means nothing. Start in the high schools with special classes and arrange for one day seminars everywhere else. It will have a big payoff.

There is something different about the caucus process that will never be duplicated with a primary. People get to know each other and speak more freely about their fundamental principles. They bond in ways that would never happen in day to day life. Driving up to a polling place and marking a ballot during one primary day is just not the same as the direct candidate interactions and the house parties and the intense discussions.

Caucuses are a method of political growth for many individuals. It was probably hard to see it in the February 5th chaos. But it was there and it will still be there when future caucus numbers are back to being more mundane and ordinary.
comments (0) permalink

Bio-Fuels: Alternative Solution or Alternative Special Interest?

Category: Environment
Posted: 02/08/08 02:35

by Dave Mindeman

My concern about bio-fuel solutions, for our next generation of energy sources, continues to grow. This article summarizes the growing scientific evidence that we may be doing more harm than good.

The options need furthur study and bio-fuels may still be the real answer at some point, but we also need to be certain we are not just offsetting emissions from fossil fuels with similar problems from rapid conversion and land clearing for bio-fuels. We have a need for urgency with alternatives but there must be a clear advantage for reduction.

I am not a nuclear power fan, but it begins to look like bio-fuels may be farther off as a real solution than we had hoped. And if we are going to continue clear cutting forest to grow the necessary crops, all we are doing is releasing more carbon dioxide -- totally defeating the purpose.

Nuclear power substitues our carbon problems with nuclear waste storage issues.... but under the circumstances we may be forced to move quickly in the nuclear direction. We will, at some point, have to address that waste issue, but the need for quicker alternative energy sources, now, may trump the other concerns.

We have some hard choices to make. But substituting a powerful oil lobby with a growing and well funded ethanol lobby may have us changing one wealthy interest group for another, without finding that solution.

We need to invest in serious research to find the best alternatives and not let special interest dictate the use of sound science.
comments (1) permalink

Pawlenty for President? What?

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 02/07/08 19:54

by Dave Mindeman

I just heard these words come out of Tim Russert's mouth:'

Question: Who do you consider candiadates for GOP President in 2012 if McCain doesn't win, besides Mitt Romney?

A:....possibly Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota....


Now, he was one of 3 or 4 names, but really?

I realize that T-Paw has "high" approval ratings...for what, I'm not sure. But what else would recommend him for leader of the free world?

Conservatives don't trust him. Minnesota's economy is tanking. He couldn't deliver his own state party for John McCain. And although he gets a lot of publicity for environmental rhetoric, he has yet to make real progress.... and, in addition, even if you give him a pass on the I-35 Bridge, Minnesota transportation is a disaster.

I'm not sure he is even viable for VP anymore.

Russert must have "blowhard" fatigue.

comments (3) permalink


« September 2015 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30

Latest posts


(one year)




RSS Feeds

RSS 0.91
RSS 2.0

Powered by
Powered by SBlog
Copyright © Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. All rights reserved. Legal. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.