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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Pioneer Press Says It's All Our Fault

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 03/12/08 01:41

by Dave Mindeman

The Pioneer Press has decided to honor us with yet another editorial opinion on their view of politics in Minnesota. Here is an interesting excerpt:

It's unfortunate that someone with Ciresi's abilities left the race so early. It is a function of the role of the partisan endorsement process, in which political activists ? those good and dedicated people who attend caucuses and conventions throughout the spring ? have a great role in choosing the candidates we will see on the ballot.

On both ends of the political spectrum, this gives inordinate power to a subset of the truest believers at a stage in the game ? like now ? when most voters aren't paying attention. It sometimes produces candidates who cannot appeal to a broad spectrum of voters, as Franken, Coleman, Nelson-Pallmeyer or someone else will have to do to win the U.S. Senate seat

I take that as a chastisement of the process. It is the fault of those "good and dedicated people who attend caucuses and conventions" that Ciresi has "left the race so early".

Well, oh wise and knowledgable sages on the editorial board... where have you been over the past year? Did you cover Ciresi's campaign? Did you cover any campaign?

Maybe we, the "truest believers", should apologize for having all of this "inordinate power".

Except...how else do candidates get vetted? Are we to depend on the shrinking pages of our local dailies? The papers that have cut back staff so much that television listings have disappeared and non-essential columnists have been laid off?

Or how about the electorate? You know the ones who "aren't paying attention". The ones who stood by dumbfounded while their President marched us into a war that nobody wants.

The problem, oh great sages, is that somebody needs to pay attention all the time. The world is a 24 hour project and events that affect Senate races don't just start on Labor Day and end after November.

By the way, for those of you who haven't been paying attention... Norm Coleman has already voted about 3 different ways on waterboarding. Just thought you might want to know.
comments (1) permalink

Circling the Wagons With Less Wagons

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 03/11/08 21:57

by Dave Mindeman

Minnesota legislative Republicans have seen their ranks diminish drastically over the past few cycles. The normal political answer to that problem would be to reexamine your message or look for ways to broaden your core constituency. But Minnesota's GOP has disdained all of the normal approaches.

Instead, the party base seems to be intent on a "purge".

The six Republicans who voted to override Governor Pawlenty's veto have endured the wrath of the House leadership and the conservative activist base. In a kind of "circling the wagons" type defense strategy, the party seems to be intent on forcing these six to fend for themselves outside the circle.

Conservatives may believe strongly in their principles. That's fine. Progressives feel the same. But I don't think that most progressives are all that confident that a majority of the electorate adhere to those principles in the same way. In fact, I would say that we know that in reality, we hold a minority view...although we are finding coalitions we can work with.

Conservatives are finding out that they are working within that same reality. You can't make policy unless you are in the majority and you can't get the majority without a coalition of political philosophies.

With all evidence to the contrary, the Minnesota Republican party and its dominate conservative wing believe that they will regain their momentum by removing the "impurities" and moving ahead with a more narrow set of standards.

It shows. Pawlenty governs as if he has a broad mandate, even though he has never won with over 48% of the vote. Marty Seifert thinks that simply upholding vetos is a positive method of governing. And, the caucus seems to believe that purging, punishing, and dividing their ranks is going to improve their status.

The transportation bill was only one vote. But if these six legislators go forward and win their primaries or run and win as independents in the general election.... voting "their conscience" will be a lot easier and will be done with a lot more satisfaction.

The GOP State House and Senate can't afford more losses. If the House pulls off a veto proof majority this fall, Republicans won't have enough wagons to even form that circle.

Maybe there is another way that principle wins out, but the only method I have ever known is majority rule.

But heck, whatever works for you -- go ahead, purge away.
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Mike Ciresi -- Wrong Approach

Posted: 03/11/08 04:45, Edited: 07/03/13 13:46

by Dave Mindeman

Mike Ciresi never quite got it. In two different Senate runs, he made the same mistake. He assumed that running with general election campaign themes, from the beginning, can also get you the endorsement or support of the party base. It just doesn't mix.

Party activists are a different animal. They demand a certain passion and adherence to principle that makes candidates walk a fine line through an election process.

Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer figured that system out.

Franken began his efforts long ago at the party bean feeds and legislative candidate fundraisers. He raised the early money and took his case directly to the people that knocked on the doors and made all the calls. And they responded.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer knew that his issues were the party base's issues. He doesn't have the money but he has the heart....and party activists reward heart, even when they are unsure if the candidate can make a case for a November win. In the Democratic Party, they are always looking for the next Paul Wellstone. And for a lot of people, that resemblance registers in Pallmeyer.

But Mike Ciresi's very nature is a pragmatic one. It has made him successful and is at the heart of his persuasion ability. But if pragmatism was the Ciresi plan, then he should have opted to go directly to a primary campaign. Pragmatism and Activisim don't mix very well in an endorsement process.

I suspect Ciresi believed that he could convince people that this approach was the best way to win this year. Make it a slow and methodical campaign....grind it out, keeping the focus on Norm Coleman. But the endorsement process is anything but a normal analyitcal mechanism. It is more like herding cats.

Ciresi kept expecting that methodical argument to work. But that didn't happen with a party base that is tired of cautious, resistant to compromise, and looking for down right angry passion.

Mike Ciresi is a good man and a good candidate.....but just not the right type of candidate to capture a Democratic endorsement. Not in a year like this.
comments (2) permalink


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