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Local View: Minnesotans value voting, representation

Minnesotans take voting seriously. We value representation. Our representatives build policy and enforce rules. But inequality has grown for 50 years. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, is right now the highest in our history. That i...

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Denfeld’s 1947 boys basketball team is the only Denfeld basketball team to win a state title. The team’s head coach was Lloyd Holm. Team members were Rudy Monson, Larry Tessier, Paul Nace, Kenneth Sunnarborg, Eugene Norlander, Howard Tucker, Tony Skull, Jerry Walczak, Bruce Budge, Keith Stolen and student manager Bob Scott.

Minnesotans take voting seriously. We value representation. Our representatives build policy and enforce rules.

But inequality has grown for 50 years. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, is right now the highest in our history. That is not a sign of moral progress or predestination.

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Bill Mittlefehldt

Ultra-conservatives use their larger incomes to make politics a bloodsport. The flow of excessive wealth into the political arena dramatically has increased since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling offered cover for the identities of wealthy bad actors who would be shamed if the public only knew. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been among those using this cover to fund candidates, primaries, and policy. At gatherings, corporate lawyers reportedly give state and federal Republicans proposed legislation. This is an un-American assault on our value of equal representation. It smells like treason when only the wealthy are represented.

Minnesotans watched the decay of democracy in neighboring Wisconsin as Gov. Scott Walker worked closely with the Koch brothers and ALEC. Their un-American collaboration inspired leaders in the Minnesota Legislature. Republican Reps. Pat Garofalo and Kurt Daudt now seem to be pushing the ALEC agenda to disenfranchise the less wealthy. Garofalo has served as co-chairman of Minnesota's ALEC team.

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ALEC was pleased Republicans waited until the end of the session last year to give the governor a 1,000-page omnibus bill. Gov. Mark Dayton wisely did not sign the unrepresentative document. The ultra-conservatives were pleased to spend much less revenue while not representing Minnesota's voting public.

These folks on the radical right should be brought to account. Voters are angry about their lack of representation and remember when the GOP was for the people.

We are not alone. ALEC and more dark money from radicals on the right affected the election of President Donald Trump. Trump's administration is stacked with millionaires and billionaires who long have had relations with ALEC. Their unequal access to privilege makes representation a low priority.

They seemed happy with the federal shutdown - as they still got paid.

Their misrepresentation generated huge tax breaks the Republican Party gave to the wealthiest income group. Rough calculations indicate the top 1 percent will enjoy 20 percent of the huge tax cut.

The GOP also cut the IRS budget to reduce the number of audits.

These un-American policies will buy more tax breaks, greater deficits, and more fears and could lead to raids on Social Security and Medicare. Trump and his Republican cohorts are working to undermine the checks and balances of our republic.

In Minnesota, ALEC friends in the GOP seem content to not represent we the people. In Washington, they can represent even greater inequality and disunity. Treason enjoys shadows.

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As deceased Sen. Paul Wellstone once said, "I don't think politics has anything to do with left, right, or center. It has to do with trying to do right by people."

We know the president has not revealed his tax returns nor fully divulged his business holdings. We also have new indications that his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin include the campaign data delivered by Paul Manafort when he was campaign chair. Special investigator Robert Mueller will help restore our checks and balances.

But we face a climate challenge over the next 12 years that requires both hope and unity. We cannot let a small, wealthy minority sell our representation to Cambridge Analytica, Fancy Bear, or the Kremlin. Trump is drowning the GOP with lies, tantrums, and delusions. This leaves our kids and country in unprecedented social, economic, and climate danger.

 

Bill Mittlefehldt of Duluth is a member of the Sierra Club and of Peace Church Hub of Justice.

Related Topics: KURT DAUDT
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