Saturday, September 10, 2011

Democratsy is Failing but Opportunity for Real Change Exists

"The people who are controlling our economy, are controlling our democracy," says Dan McGrath of Take Action Minnesota. Those with money are clearly the ones with power in our society. Unfortunately, McGrath did not elaborate on the DFL endorsement process -  or his organization's. The conversations not occurring and the lack of shared power with the average person says a lot about ruling class perceptions.

We have two special elections in Minnesota. One is in south Minneapolis and the other in Brooklyn Center. While the media has given these races some attention, there is still little discussion of them. What I find disturbing is that the DFL executive committee has overruled their local parties from endorsing, deciding themselves who is best fit for the state senate. Some within the DFL, who were unable to vote on endorsement, thought the process was fair if unusual.  Others were quite appalled at being a delegate or precinct chair without a say.

Take Action Minnesota has decided to take a similar stance. On Thursday, September 8th they choose to endorse only one candidate in the senate district 61 race. None of the other candidates were invited to screen or compete against him in their endorsement. If this is not a flawed process, I do not know what one is.

 Most of my friends and neighbors in the district aren't hearing much. Yet, they don't seem enthused about the DFL primary, either. The election is this Tuesday and there is complete silence. Okay, I know a few people who support candidate X or candidate Y. A concerted campaign by anyone is what I have not seen. In the blogosphere, there is only one post from the SD61 DFL chair. This scenario bodes well for either the candidate with the best name recognition and/or who can mobilize the most voters to show up. I expect extremely low turnout, perhaps 1800 voters.

I could be wrong, as residents could be mobilized to vote. Senate District 61 is in one of the economically impoverished parts of the state. Minnesotans for a Fair Economy door-knocked here earlier this summer, with fantastic results. The organization wants to mobilize the working-class and unemployed to change our political system as the Tea Party folk have. With a long-term weak recovery followed by another potential recession, there is no better group of people to get involved in politics.

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy has a goal of rectifying the unfair economic system we find ourselves in. They have been quite honest about the predicament we are in. However, if someone is inspired to run for office after attending their events - would this group support them? Donna Cassutt is their executive director but has also spent time as the DFL associate chair from 2005 until early this year. Likely their real motive is to inspire a Tea Party movement of the left and funnel solely into the DFL. If they get involved in the primary or general special election, they will only do so for the DFL endorsed candidate.

So those who are without a job or are struggling, can they trust a corrupt political system? Sure, they can run for office. However, it's not what they know but who they know that will get them institutional support. Also, these very same voters have no idea how they have been continually robbed the opportunity to hear about other candidates.

Am I the only one who find this situation disturbing? If local party delegates and even political candidates themselves are stifled, can we still call our partisan democracy functional? Or do we call it efficient and open to those with wealth and social connections. If what Dan McGrath says is true, then closed door groups of Democrats and Republicans decide our politicians and control our economy.

Our state government shut down this summer to the detriment of everyone. Our Federal government also faced a near collapse. Democrats and Republicans continue to play partisan games while families can barely make it pay check to pay check. They blame each other while continuing to do nothing to change our country's direction.

Things could be different... 

The sad predicament we find ourselves in need not be so. I attended an endorsement today that did not shut its doors to non-executive committee members. The Senate District 61 Green Party endorsed Farheen Hakeem for Minnesota Senate. She has raised over $10,000 and will be mounting a campaign over the coming weeks to change the direction of our state.

Minneapolis voters who want a progressive champion at the capitol need look no further than Farheen. She will be a fighter for the working class and unemployed who feel voiceless and discouraged. Essentially, she won't take her position for granted and be content with the status-quo.

Some of what Farheen Hakeem stands for:

  • Single-payer universal healthcare - healthcare for everyone in Minnesota
  • Uninterrupted and increased E-12 funding
  • A moratorium on foreclosures so people can stay in their homes
  • Lower and affordable college tuition
  • More rights for undocumented workers and saner immigration policies
  • Alternative energy and green jobs
  • A fair tax system that includes taxing the rich
  • Protecting the environment 
  • Ending the achievement gap
  • LGBTQ rights
Minnesotans have changed the trajectory of America's politics many times. Through the Farmer Labor Party we pushed for such things as Social Security. Hubert H. Humphrey brought social justice issues onto the national stage. The election of Jesse Ventura may have "shocked the world" but it also led to our first light-rail transit project. 

Our current well-known politicians project hyper-individualistic values. T-paw's anti-tax governorship has bankrupted our state, with the DFL refusing to fight against his un-allotment.  Michelle Bachmann makes us look intolerant and ignorant. She serves as comic relief and a glitter bomb target. Is this the Minnesota we want projected forward?

Let's imagine a different future scenario. A green movement that empowers people by prioritizing our collective needs. A movement that provides sustainable jobs that pay a living wage. A state that cares about all its people and would never relegate them to 2nd class. What we need is a positive movement in these dire times.

Things do not seem to be getting better and they never will unless we do something about it. We are heading down the road to failure but we can still take the path towards shared success. A vote for Farheen Hakeem sends the message that we want a better vision to represent our future. 

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