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Friday, February 12th, 2016
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We face real challenges to representative democracy


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Oct 12th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

People who care about the United States’ place in the world often fret about challenges to representative democracy from other countries. I’d contend that the more formidable challenge comes not from abroad, but from within.

For starters, it’s hard to make American representative democracy work. Our country is large, growing, and astoundingly diverse by every definition of the term. To govern it, we rely on a bewildering array of branches and units of government, which means that to solve a problem you have to navigate a slow, untidy system.

And that system rests on the consent of a public that often wants mutually contradictory things: to encourage the risk-taking that produces a dynamic economy, for instance, while reining in the private sector’s excesses; or to shrink the deficit, but without cuts in defense spending or entitlements and no additional taxes.

Our challenges come at us with rapidity and mind-boggling complexity. They include racial and class divisions, the social and economic pressures confronting families, a strained public education system, a constant flow of complex foreign and economic policy questions. To deal with them, every level of our system needs to be at the top of its game.

I take heart from the diligence and creativity of many politicians, yet I’m worried that several trends, especially at the federal level, are weakening our ability to get the results we want.

Two of our basic governing institutions, Congress and the presidency, are struggling. Congress has adopted some unfortunate political and procedural habits: it governs by crisis, fails repeatedly to follow time-tested procedures that ensure accountability and fairness, panders to wealthy contributors, and too often erupts in excessive partisanship. There are glimmers that some members are willing to re-learn the legislative arts of negotiation, compromise, and consensus-building, but these need to be front and center, not an occasional hobby: in a government that reflects the American population, Congress cannot function effectively without these skills.

The presidency, too, faces challenges. The executive branch is bloated, has too many decision makers and bases to touch, lacks accountability, and desperately needs better, more effective management.

Moreover, the decades-long march toward increased presidential power at the expense of the legislative branch sev .....
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Eyes ready to roll

Mon, Oct 12th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

I’ve been a father for ten months now, and as such certain things have become ingrained, handed down like sacred artifacts from the Great Hall of Dads, which coincidentally looks a lot like the interior of your average supper club. Along with the ..... 
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Keeping Chatfield strong! A conversation about the school referendum

Mon, Oct 12th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

By Ed Harris Superintendent of Chatfield Public Schools Our theme for Chatfield Public Schools referendum is Chatfield Strong! The community is growing and our schools are filled with students who continue to achieve at high levels compared t ..... 
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Voting without fear

Mon, Oct 5th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

By Peggy Hanson “Why on earth would we ever consider electing a person of Muslim faith to be the leader of our country?” This is the question posed by Jason Sethre in his opinion column in the Sept. 28, 2015 issue of the Fillmore County Journa ..... 
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One Moment, Please...

Mon, Oct 5th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

I hear a lot of elders talking about how the youth of today don’t know how to write in cursive. And, it appears that classes dedicated to shop (woods, electrical, and metals) and home economics (cooking and sewing) have fallen off the curriculum ..... 
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America’s growing pains

Mon, Oct 5th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Cultural and demographic shifts are an American reality. We have been and continue to be a nation of immigrants. The influx of non European immigrants over the years has made the face of America more diverse. Social evolution has lead to the legaliz ..... 
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R-P debate equalization has no legal basis

By Col. Stan Gudmundson

Mon, Sep 28th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

Want the truth about Rushford-Peterson’s eligibility for Minnesota’s “Disaster Debt Equalization” as written in the legislation? Debt equalization is the 55% that state taxpayers are on the hook to help pay for R-P’s new school. “Sec ..... 
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One Moment, Please... A Muslim President?

Mon, Sep 28th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

As this long presidential race crawls toward election day, only 410 days as of the date I am writing this commentary, the sensationalism of our national media never ceases to amaze me. At first I questioned why any journalist would pose the questi ..... 
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The anxiety of freedom of choice

By Herb Panko

Mon, Sep 28th, 2015
Posted in All Commentary

The 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard in his The Concept of Anxiety and also in his seminal work Fear and Trembling, addresses man’s freedom to choose. His memorable quote “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom” is more applicab ..... 
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