It’s hard to turn down a gift of $6 million. But that’s what happened because Minnesota’s political leaders couldn’t agree on a compromise spending bill. The bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature included measures they knew the DFL governor and legislators wouldn’t support. The omnibus spending bill also contained noncontroversial items such as the formal request for Minnesota’s share of the federal money to improve election security.
Minnesota’s secretary of state would have spent the money to hire computer coders to secure the state’s 14-year-old voter system. Minnesota, a state that has been attacked by foreign hackers more than once, will be the only state in the country that can’t touch that cash because of a standoff between Republicans and Democrats.
Another victim of the failure to act was the urgent need to align Minnesota’s income tax code with the new federal income tax tables that went into effect for 2018. Accountants expect surprises for taxpayers when it’s time to file state income tax returns next spring.
These are just two examples of seemingly simple actions that stalled.
When voters are considering candidates this fall, they should ask candidates what they will do to deliver solutions. Incumbents who have stuck to “pure” positions, often funded by PACS instead of delivering resultsm should be voted out.
Politics in a democracy assumes we can find ways of living, working and progressing together even when we disagree.
Party purity and polarization have frozen results, both in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. Politicians who do compromise and cooperate to make deals are in electoral and fundraising danger at the hands of party extremists and PACs.
Polling organizations track public opinions on significant issues over time. Pollsters ask citizens their opinions about solutions to issues and where they stand on current legislation.
In response, citizens offer a range of opinions ranging from very liberal to very conservative. Traditionally, most people offer an opinion in the middle. Sometimes the stands are more to the left, sometimes more to the right. But mostly, the responses cluster around the middle so when the results are graphed, the graph resembles a mountain with the high point in the middle.
Results now cluster at the ends…at the extremes on both the very liberal and very conservative points. As a result, the graph looks more like a valley, with the high points at the ends and the low points in the middle…the middle ground where compromise and cooperation happen.
If this approach continues, we’ll see situations such as the $6 million election security money turned down and no fix for the state tax code. In Washington, D.C., the politics of purity means that fixes and improvements to the Affordable Care Act failed, immigration policy is guided by a flurry of cruel executive orders tempered by the courtsm and repairing and replacing bridges, railroads, highway and airports – something everybody agrees is needed – has been ignored.
During this fall’s election, candidates need to convince us results matter more than party purity and bowing to big money.
Politics, at its best, is about creating a decent society, a task that can only be accomplished when citizens find ways of cooperating.