Dick Palmer: Modern political landscape a tired gag

It's the same old song: "Who's on first, what's on second?" Do you remember those time-honored words by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello of yesteryear? If you're unfamiliar with Abbott and Costello, they were a hilarious comedy team from the '40s. The...

It's the same old song: "Who's on first, what's on second?"

Do you remember those time-honored words by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello of yesteryear? If you're unfamiliar with Abbott and Costello, they were a hilarious comedy team from the '40s. They were appreciated, without question, by Americans seeking any sort of relief from the current events of the times, events that continue to plague this nation even more so today without pause. We will never forget the following skit because of what took place during that dialogue.

Abbott and Costello were talking about baseball and Costello asked "Who's playing first?" with Abbott responding, "Who!"

"That's what I asked you," responded Costello, "who's playing first?" Abbott repeated: "Who!" Countered Costello: "What?"

"That's easy," added Abbott, "What is playing Second Base."


"I don't know," responded a confused Costello and, added Abbott, "I Don't Know is playing third base." The dialogue continued on and on....

I mentioned above that words alone cannot do justice to the skit, although the words used just seem to fit today's political antics -- and even though we don't intend truthfully to make fun of this particularly "silly season," we simply can't ignore the obvious and well-engineered approach to the reality of clever ploys surrounding our elective campaign strategies that never change year in and year out. From season to season, it's always the same game plan; only the names have been changed to fit the occasion.

We don't want to make this too complicated, but too many of us today simply go to the polls and pull on the lever for Who, What and I Don't Know simply because of a party label making it justifiable to do what others tell us to do without question. Too many eligible voters don't even bother to vote, but they are the first in line to complain when government raises taxes or takes something away or gives us something we don't want or need. Yes, indeed, the silly season is somewhat like baseball: The managers or political bosses make the calls and the rest of us follow the game plan without question and the umpires (the political bosses) have the final say.

Here in northeastern Minnesota, pay no mind to who the players are; it's the party that counts. We seem to have a one-sided race developing for governor with Mark Dayton, the DFL-endorsed candidate, pitted against Tom Emmer, the Republican choice, and Tom Horner, who is representing the Independent Party. The latter two have very little exposure in northeastern Minnesota.

Their DFL opponent certainly is well known, especially considering that his family name is associated with the Dayton's department stores (the developers and owners of Target, which has stores located throughout the country).

We continue to wonder if Mark Dayton, who served one term as a U.S. Senator, will keep that Senate pension even if he is elected governor of Minnesota. In 1987, Time magazine rated Dayton as one of Congress' five worst senators. The article noted that Dayton was listed as generally following the Democratic party line. With the probability that the next Minnesota Legislature will again be controlled by the DFL -- and Dayton is elected our next governor -- chances are legislation in the 2011-12 session will be, shall we suggest, interesting (but not necessarily in the best interests of the majority of Minnesotans). Only time will provide the answers to that opinion. With third-party candidate Horner likely to take away votes from Emmer, and vice versa, Dayton should have smooth sailing right into the governor's office.

Is there any way to counter this one-sided control of Minnesota politics? Perhaps a start would be to initiate term limits in Congress and in the Minnesota state legislature. Career politicians too often don't clearly represent the best interests of the people they are elected to serve. In Minnesota, the liberal majority in the legislature has pretty much dominated the governing process since 1973.

In the House of Representatives, Democrat Jim Oberstar has held his seat for the past 36 years, and not necessarily in our best interests. New blood generates new ideas, putting partisan loyalties in a proper perspective.


For those of you who are not planning to vote, don't be fooled: Regardless of your political affiliation, your vote is the missing link in all this; you need to express your community interests, and this is most effective at the voting booth.

Dick Palmer is a former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer. E-mail him at .

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