The July 25 story, “Mining divide drives Duluth Senate race,” rightly drew attention to the importance of sulfide mining in the District 7 Minnesota Senate primary.
But sulfide mining is just the tip of the iceberg.
Furthermore, the race is not an issue of unions vs. environmentalists.
Rather it’s an illustration of incumbent Sen. Erik Simonson’s opportunism and convenience to use issues to avoid challenging vested interests and absolving himself of responsibility for making decisions. He seems all too happy to be the go-between in the marriage of company unions and corporate Democrats, a long tradition in Minnesota since the founding of the DFL.
Simonson said he’s noted a “shift” in local politics. That’s called democracy, which has been a problem for Democrats a long time, as in the manufactured presidential nods to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to accommodate the needs of the economic and political elite under the pretext of finding a suitable opponent to take on President Donald Trump. Unlike the professor quoted, I don’t find this situation “distressing.” Rather, it’s long overdue and goes far beyond sulfide mining to virtually every issue of consequence.
Health care is another prime example. Establishment Democrats locally and nationally seem content with tinkering and working through the system, even with a pandemic exposing the waste and inefficiency of the corporate health care industry.
Cutting so-called practical deals with power has long worked well for Simonson and many other Democrats, but does it work for the majority of Duluthians? When the construction jobs at Essentia are done, will there be more and better health care for more people? When tailing ponds are full of sulfide residue, and the few mining jobs are gone, who will benefit beyond the multinational investors? Simonson wants to be the one to get things done, but the ultimate question is, for whose benefit?