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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

DFL Can't Shift With The Wind On Environment

Category: Environment
Posted: 12/14/16 21:39

by Dave Mindeman

When Democrats lose elections the tendency is to overreact.

In Minnesota, this phenomenon is pretty consistent. Republicans seldom change their basic message. Even when there is evidence that it is completely wrong.

But Democrats turn away from their basic core ideas and almost apologize for them....instead of defending them.

This post election example is sulfide mining.

At the state central committee meeting in Lakeville, the delegates overwhelmingly rejected a long simmering move to oppose sulfide ore mining.

This has become controversial because in the Iron Range, they still believe that they cannot exist without dominant mining interests in their economy.

And the 2016 election gave the Republicans majorities in both legislative houses because Democrats were defeated in many rural districts.

Now, the mining issue did affect a few districts. But Trump's pandering message to rural voters was the main culprit. And instead of countering that message with fact based information, the DFL Party seems to have decided that capitulation was the more prudent course.

Let's be clear. Sulfide mining challenges our environment. And mining companies want the short cuts that can put our pristine Boundary Waters and the basic water table in jeopardy.

Let's also be clear about something else. The Iron Range has a very limited future in mining operations. It is not a long term solution to employment for the region - even the Polymet proposal that is the source of these controversies promises only about 200 net jobs.

No, the future of the Iron Range is tied directly to tourism and the attractive feature that can fuel that part of the Minnesota economy is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

So while we are caving in to mining interests, the Iron Range is putting its very future in jeopardy, because mining and the BWCA are not very compatible.

The DFL didn't endorse mining interests at its Central Committee Meeting. No, they did their usual cop out and just eliminated the resolution that would put on record a more forceful stand.

Democrats are uncomfortable with strong positions on controversial topics. Even when they know it is the right thing to do. The DFL seems to think that softening these stands will garner them votes. The reality is that they jeopardize their core principles and put into question who we really are.

Losing the 2016 election was very hard. But it was a truly unusual year and Trump did not win on any kind of principle. He just promised everything to everybody - knowing he was never going to deliver.

And those principled conservative Republicans became Trump lap dogs and sold their souls to the Trump "deal maker".

This will be transient. It cannot last. So Democrats should consider standing firm on what they believe. Do not get distracted by the shiny light emanating from the orange one. It will not shine long.

Democrats need to stand for the protection of the earth. Even when it looks like it will lead to temporary unpopularity. Climate change can be denied but it will not be stopped.

Democrats need to hold fast to truth.
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