Mar. 31st, 2017

hollymath: (Default)
So my Congressman wants to run for governor.

This is interesting (well, to probably zero people but me who read this blog, but...) mainly because he has made a living off the balancing act between representing a rural area and being a Democrat.

Everybody else who's so far declared they want the DFL endorsement is from the Cities, and Walz is not. He represents all of the bottom bit of Minnesota, which has a few not-very-big towns and otherwise rural farmland like what I grew up on. So the NRA likes him, but he's progressive enough that Planned Parenthood does too.

The first political opinion I ever remember being made in my presence was my dad saying he liked Paul Wellstone because he stuck up for farmers, and I've been proud that the farmers in my state are happy to back reasonably progressive politicians. But recently -- since I left Minnesota, really, so I haven't been able to follow this as well -- Republicans have been peeling off those DFL votes outside the Twin Cities. Tim Walz stuck around.

And he seems to want to deal with this urban/rural divide by dismantling it. Sounds good to me! "Walz says he plans to start by focusing on how advancements in the metro area benefit the rural areas he represents, and vice versa." Which is awesome, and happily I also believe it to be true.

Of course to get through a gubernatorial (crap, I've forgotten how to spell that; I've been away too long!) primary his less-orthodox stances on guns and the environment (being pro-farmers-not-going-broke is sometimes anti-environment, unfortunately...) will get more attention. But I've read some interesting quotes about that, especially “In the metro, you’ll probably hear that he’s not progressive enough, but there’s enough people that know we’ve got to take the governor’s race or we’re Wisconsin, we’re toast.”

A year or two ago I was reading a lot of articles (here's an example) about the diverging fortunes of Minnesota and Wisconsin, neighboring Midwestern states with similar histories and presumably similar potential, except that when we elected tax-and-spend Mark Dayton (DFL) as our governor, they elected union-busting tax-cuts-at-all-costs Scott Walker (R).

Minnesota got hundreds of thousands more jobs, a budget surplus, and tons of money for education, but Wisconsin now serves as a terrible warning to us next door: reduced education spending, increased taxes on ordinary people to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest, basically refuted trickle-down economics all by himself.

Yes Minnesota has a century or so of progressive politics that makes this seem unimaginable, but so did Wisconsin before Walker...and Minnesota's previous governor, a Republican who saw Minnesota as nothing more than a stepping-stone to running for president, refused to raise taxes even when infrastructure got so bad that a huge fucking bridge fell into the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile as soon as Walz announced, GOP-aligned groups immediately called him a “Washington insider” and a “Democrat socialist.” Socialist meaning only what it always means in America, a mean name to call someone, but it's not something that Minnesotans are really afraid of. And honestly it's the least I'd expect of someone I'd hope to vote for!

“The focus now is getting to know Minnesotans and getting Minnesotans to know me,” Walz said, and this has been borne out so far in that the Twitter account he and/or his staff seemed to forget he had -- and that I forgot I followed last autumn when I thought I should be paying more attention to the tools in my arsenal against Trump -- has been pretty busy in recent days. As long as it still gives him time to vote against everything Paul Ryan tries to get through the House, I'm happy with hearing more from him as he campaigns.

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