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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Lessons of 1972

Category: 2016
Posted: 11/02/17 23:04

by Dave Mindeman

I have been involved in politics since the George McGovern campaign. You remember that don't you? The anti-war candidate. The liberal's liberal. The victim of the Nixon subterfuge. I loved McGovern. He spoke real truth to power. He believed in liberal ideals. He would fight for the poor and downtrodden. He believed that Vietnam was a massive mistake.

He took the Democratic Party by storm and carried so many young people with him to.....

ignominious defeat.

The worst political thrashing I ever saw. Lost nearly every state. Lost the popular vote 37-61. It left me stunned. Disillusioned. Hopeless.

It was not so much that my candidate lost, but the ideas that I thought were obviously the "right" ideas got thrashed as well. The country obviously did not believe in the same liberal ideas that I did. I was crushed.

But I kept going. I learned something valuable. That ideals and election politics are different things. The mandate to make policy goes to the winners -not the ones with the best ideas.

After that election, being liberal became a joke for many years. Pie in the sky liberals. Idealistic neophytes. No connection to reality. Yeah, I heard them all.

Since that time, I have worked ceaselessly on working for political change. It has happened from time to time, but never with any sense of completeness. I have learned that you have to accept setbacks. You have to accept politics as it is, not as you want it to be.

Democrats have often been ill equipped for the fight and often fight each other more than the real political enemy.

The Bernie supporters remind me of that time in 1972. You want to find some excuse for why things did not work. It was all so unfair. The system is biased against us. We need to change everything. It is all bad.

In 1972, I learned that it wasn't the system that had to change, because there are too many negative forces holding it in place....rather it was I who had to change. To stop hiding behind my sense of right and wrong and understand that politics is really nothing about right and wrong - rather it is a method of obtaining power - of simply winning with whatever it takes.

It is a game with no rules. It is unfortunate, but true.

And the only absolute necessity is for a Party to stand together against the other side. If we had a European parliamentary system, there would be more room for party nuance. To form real coalitions with votes and power. But we do not have that. This is a two party democracy with all the flaws and foibles that go along with that narrow definition.

Which is why the here and now is so important. Our democracy is at serious risk. We have a President who understands completely how things work with no rules. How to get the advantage at every turn. To manipulate people and power.

And, once again, we continue to believe that right will still win out. That justice will always prevail. And that Camelot still exists.

Learn the lessons of 1972. As Vince Lombardi put it so well -

"Winning isn't everything; it's the ONLY thing."
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Republicans Insist On Living In Our Energy Past

Category: 2016
Posted: 09/12/17 12:01

by Dave Mindeman

Minnesota Republicans pounced on an announcement from the MN Commerce Department regarding the Enbridge oil pipeline....

"In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built."

And what is Pipeline 3?

Enbridge wants to decommission the existing Line 3, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to an Enbridge hub in Superior, Wis. The company would leave it in the ground and build a new line along a different route, south of the existing pipeline corridor.

While Republicans give us their outcry about building this type of infrastructure, they fail once again to look at the larger, futuristic picture.

We do not need more oil infrastructure. It seems incredible to be saying that. For so many years the main political argument is how to be less dependent on foreign oil. But the trendline for oil and gas is down. We have full tankers sitting offshore waiting for the price of oil to go up. We have enough oil reserves that we do not have to utilize the cruder forms like the Canadian tar sands oil.

The boom and bust days of oil are back because our need for oil is falling and with new technologies, it should continue to fall.

We have seen what has happened to the coal industry. Energy has become a process of natural selection. We go with the cleaner fuels - wind, solar, natural gas. And when that happens, old tech jobs will be lost. Energy Darwinism as it were.

Oil is the next energy source to take the fall. So why build infrastructure to support a declining industry. Save those resources for access to better and cleaner energy sources.

The Republican response is typical and predictable. They are joined at the hip with the old ways. They cannot fathom a future without "big oil". But we have to - we have to end our dependence on not just foreign oil, but oil period.

If the GOP insists on living in the past, then we will leave them behind.
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Not Bernie's Fault - But Bernie Zealots Share Blame

Category: 2016
Posted: 09/07/17 18:40

by Dave Mindeman

I can't blame Bernie Sanders for doing anything wrong in the 2016 election. But I do blame his zealot followers.

Bernie ran a good campaign and he brought a considerable number of new and younger people into his campaign. Bernie raised issues that were proper and needed attention.

But zealots within his campaign were more intent on destroying the Democratic Party than getting Bernie elected.

We have a two party system. It is flawed, yes, but it has worked for nearly 250 years just fine. Bernie realized quite clearly that an independent Presidential campaign would not succeed. Every independent venture fails because our system is too dependent on the either/or choice.

So Bernie ran an incredible race. He was an underdog from the get go and surprised even himself at how far he was able to go. But in the end, he lost the nomination. Only one person gets to be on the ballot for the major parties. It is just how it works.

But Bernie zealots, of course, would not accept that. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they believed the nomination was stolen from him. They overstated the power of Debbie Wasserman Schulz. They blamed the mechanics of the Democratic Party - even though Bernie won all the caususes which is the only thing the Democrats can control. They blamed the Super Delegates - even though Hillary had won more elected delegates than Bernie had.

The zealots refused to accept defeat.

Bernie did accept it. Maybe he could have done more during the campaign like Hillary did for Obama, but he was gracious and accepting.

But somehow that message did not get through to those who had not experienced a campaign loss before.

And rather than make the right choice between the Republican Donald Trump and the Democrat Hillary Clinton, they decided on "protest votes" for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or yes, even Donald Trump.

Protest votes never do any good. And in the case of 2016, they were a disaster. Just as Ralph Nader gave us George W. Bush - dissatisfaction within the Democratic Party gave us Donald Trump.

Republicans don't protest vote. They only vote for anything with a R next to the name. And in the case of Donald Trump that really does mean "anything".

Democrats need to figure this out - and soon.
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