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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

There Are Lessons To Be Learned In Being Politically Correct

Category: Society
Posted: 03/30/17 23:56, Edited: 03/30/17 23:57

by Dave Mindeman

Candidate Donald Trump got a lot of mileage out of ridiculing political correctness. It was his motto for the campaign and it was a mantra among his loyalists.

But political correctness does serve a useful purpose. And the loss of it's societal power has been a detriment to civil discourse.

Talking about race, gender, sexual orientation and other society norms have grown complicated over the years. And people grew tired of getting tripped up by the nuance of words and phrases that became part of the new moral lexicons.

But calling political correctness the new pariah has forced new problems in how we relate to each other - and with Trump, that takes a decided turn for the worse.

A lot of people in the older generation crowd (and I include myself in that group) can be embarrassed by the common phrases of our younger selves which now have taken on new meanings and sometimes give offense to people in ways we had never thought about.

But ignorance doesn't make it right. We are a species that needs to continually learn and understand our places in society. We should embrace learning politically correct norms, because they can teach us a lot about how our friends and neighbors feel about issues and how they deal with us. That is something worth learning and not something that should cause exasperation and anger.

Donald Trump has been an excuse for many to make our politically correct language so much simpler. Many people think it is admirable that he says things that are often racist or sexist or homophobic. His political success gives them carte blanche to do the same. To say how they "really feel"...to tell it like it is.

But using something as an excuse does not absolve anyone of violating a societal change. It does not absolve anyone of failing to correct a view that is simply morally wrong and no longer valid.

Racist ideas are never OK. Sexism is never right. Homophobia has finally been discovered to be what it is - a discriminatory dismissal of an entire group of people. We are still struggling with that last one.

But the "rules" of political correctness help us shape those moral codes. They let us evolve into a more welcoming and just society. Many of us are never ready to move ahead on those things. There are too many fears of the people who are different from us. Too many fears of change. Too many fears that our opinions are actually wrong.

Political correctness comes from changes in the rules that are catching up with a more diverse society. Some people fear diversity and political correctness often shames them into recognizing that diversity is a positive thing even if it makes them personally uncomfortable. But it is often much, much easier to criticize our PC society and treat it with disdain, rather than let it teach us something.

I have been embarrassed at times for using a phrase or a word that can potentially offend a person or a group of people. But my reaction is to learn from it. Find out why it offends. And to correct myself.

Political correctness is a useful educational tool. And our discourse can be improved if we use those lessons - and not fight or ignore them.
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Jason Lewis: He Gives Us A Letter Of Contempt And Condescension

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 03/29/17 08:35

by Dave Mindeman

Jason Lewis is a condescending jerk.

Here is a letter to Northfield News that Jason Lewis wrote to respond to calls for a town hall....

To the editor:

Sara Weeks of ISAIAH Northfield's letter deserves a response.

He is responding to this letter.
Linked here.

What follows in italics is his response:

Not only have I met with countless groups and citizens both in the district and in D.C. since taking office just two months ago, I have done two telephone town halls from Washington (where the schedule has kept me) and have personally called some of my most vocal critics demanding a "town hall."

Alright, let's be serious. Meeting with lobbyist groups or special interest groups do not count as "constituent meetings". And, my goodness, meeting with visitors in small groups is good - but not exactly open access. And PLEASE, let's get rid of this act stating that TeleTown Halls are "constituent meetings". As we all learned from the John Kline days, they are carefully staged selective questions and answers that allow for almost no input from the public. Those do not count as far as I am concerned, so don't patronize the 2nd District with nonsense. And if you want to call your critics, why not do it in an open forum, so we can all hear what is said.

However, when I asked them what it was they wanted to discuss - instead of an inquiry on a specific issue - the general response I get is, "I want our group to see you in person at a town hall." If there's no specific question I can answer I wonder why the desire for a town hall seems stronger than usual.

Are you really that obtuse? We just went through a health care Congressional debacle and you can't figure out what kind of questions we want to ask? And, by the way, why is it our responsibility to ask you questions in advance. The whole idea of a town hall is to allow your constituents to ask a broad range of questions. Anything on their mind.

The fact is many of these groups are essentially fronts for Democrat campaigns. As MinnPost (not exactly right of center) reports: 'Progressive goups and such organizers as TakeAction and ISAIAH have ideas for sweeping changes about the way Minnesotans think about democracy. Now is an exciting time for the once-underdogs - who many credit with helping deliver DFL majorities in the Legislature - to reaffirm the progressive politics and economic justice message that they've advocated for years.'

So, you use an opinion piece in an online newspaper as proof that you are being attacked by "front groups"? Really? Even if these are "front groups", as you put it, they are still constituents aren't they? And there ideas are valid and worthy of attention. But it seems you only consider the NRA, the Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers, and the Tea Party as "constituents" worthy of your time.

It's far too early to start the 2018 campaign season, but that apparently isn't stopping these activists from some creative myth-making for future political gain. Indeed, national liberal organizations such as Indivisible Guide are busy attacking Republican House members for not conducting so-called "town halls" weeks into a new session, while they conveniently ignore Democrat House members who've gone years without one.

Campaign? This isn't about 2018. We are all worried about the here and now...and we expect answers to our questions. If you are afraid of Indivisible Guide groups, that is your problem. Indivisible is made up of spontaneous grass roots groups - not a nationally organized entity. If individuals cannot get together and leverage their concerns, then you are not talking about democracy. And your assumption that only Republicans are being "attacked" as you put it (interesting that a request for a town hall meeting is now an "attack" ), is simply false. Democrats are meeting with these groups and plenty of other groups as well. They are not looking upon these meetings as "attacks".

Of course, the 'town hall crisis' is only a means to an end. The real narrative these very liberal groups hope to cement in the mind of voters is the false notion that I am not responding to sincere outreach to my office. Of course I am.

Of course? In whose opinion? Mr. Lewis, if you would please drop the ongoing Republican paranoia (which seems to think that everything said by anyone questioning your agenda is "the enemy" ), and simply listen to the requests being sent, you would find that these concerns are real and very legitimate. Read Sara Weeks letter again - without the Lewis bias that you have obviously adopted.

But frequently these groups do not pose real inquiries or real questions, they are offering protests designed to drown out real dialogue from those who actually wish to communicate with us. There is no doubt I will do town halls, but I will not allow them to become a campaign rally for either side. I have an obligation to represent all constituents in the 2nd district; and part of that obligation is to follow-through on the set of principles I spoke about and promises I made.

OMG! Come on, Congressman. That is such condescending crap. Drowning out "those who actually wish to communicate with us"? Do we not count? Are we to always to be ignored as long as we are stuck with you as our Congressman? What arrogance. Let's be clear. Your actions prove that you DO NOT represent ALL of the 2nd District. That paragraph is absurd.

I want to hold a town hall in order to hear from my constituents and give them answers as best I can. That can't happen if some people are determined to stage a free-for-all. The quickest way to get any representative (whether Al Franken or Tim Walz, both of whom went years without an open forum) to conduct a town hall would be to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue.

Let's face it. You are afraid. Why would you assume that this will be a "free-for-all"? Why? Yes, sometimes these things get loud, but that is what happens when pent up frustration boils over from being ignored and condescended to. Do you really think that a letter like this and refusals to hold a real meeting is helping this frustration? And don't deflect on what the Democrats have done in the past. Walz and Franken have excellent constituent records...you would do well to use them as models.

Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the nation, a free-for-all is exactly what these progressive groups desire.


Congressman Jason Lewis

So, Congressman, that is how you wish to leave it? Progressive groups are not part of you plan apparently. An open forum where you might have to confront progressives is not part of your job description? I am truly tired of this condescension and deflection.

Congressman Lewis...we, in the 2nd District, have only one response.

DO YOUR JOB FOR EVERYONE. Not just those who agree with you.
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When In Doubt (or Daudt) Attack Rail

Category: Transportation
Posted: 03/28/17 05:01

by Dave Mindeman

Annette Meeks is the CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (a puzzling title) and she shares Kurt Daudt's fear of trains.

In an op-ed in the Star Tribune, she "rails" (excuse the pun) against the North Star line. Offering a dramatic shutdown as a "solution"....

It's time to stop making excuses for this costly failure. Instead of pouring good money after bad by expanding Northstar, Metro Transit should immediately discontinue weekend service on that line. Then transit officials, in conjunction and with guidance from the Legislature and the administration, need to begin the process of negotiating with federal transportation officials in Washington to determine how we can curtail service on this rail line completely. This line, in particular, continues to hemorrhage red ink that limits transit growth. It's time to shut it down.

While it is true that the Northstar has suffered from weak usage numbers, Meeks actually gives us part of the reason in her piece...

Northstar, operating since November of 2009 on an abbreviated line from Minneapolis to Big Lake, has forced taxpayers to subsidize a rail line that clearly has little demand. It's one of the primary reasons our transit system is off the rails.

The major commuter market that Northstar had hoped to connect with was St. Cloud. But the legislature in its wisdom at the time, decided there wasn't enough money to go all the way...so they stopped the line abruptly at Big Lake. This would force St. Cloud commuters to drive to Big Lake to catch the line into the Twin Cities. I don't know about you, but if I have to drive a significant portion of the way to something, I might as well drive all of it.

Meeks faults transit for the problems that the legislature intentionally inflicted on the project. Now that Gov. Dayton is asking for preliminary funding to look into completing this 8 year old project, Meeks wants to shut it all down. (By the way, the St. Cloud reps very much support finishing the line to St. Cloud)

In addition, Meeks (who hates taxes) wants to make the commuters pay more. Increased fares, mileage based tickets, and charges for park and ride.


This continual war on transit that the Republicans insist on waging has got to stop. We continue to short change the lines themselves with constant controversies, we put Federal money in jeopardy, we delay and delay which only increases the costs, and the GOP keeps vocalizing the "waste" of transit while pouring more and more dollars into the asphalt jungle.

Transit systems are how modern metro areas operate. Business supports it because it expands their labor base. Developers need it to have a stable demand for housing and business location. Commuters need it for quick and easy access to their needs without investments into vehicles.

Meeks, like most other conservative Republicans, has never looked at the broader picture. She, like her cohorts, refuses to look ahead and not at the budget here and now.

This stunted thinking has plagued Minnesota whenever Republicans have a place at the budget table.

How long do we do this?
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