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The Future belongs to those who show up!

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Fri, Jun 20th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

“The future is decided by those who show up!” On this premise I packed up my lack of expertise, my self doubts and headed to the DFL Convention in Duluth May 31, 2014. Saturday morning it was raining so I was delighted when a smiling young woman appeared with an umbrella and ushered me into the convention center. Inside a fleet of young people with colorful shirts were ready to help us find our way around the vast expanse of the building.

The program began at 10:30. There were 70 proposals to be considered, voting for Secretary of State and speeches. One of the proposals was eliminating capital punishment. While there are some people who don’t deserve to live, I have come to feel that if we say murder is wrong how can we sanction carrying out the death penalty? What does it do to us?

As the day proceeded there was cheering, dancing in the aisles and waving signs supporting the candidates. I don’t know what I expected but I never saw so many happy people under one roof. It was estimated that there were four thousand who attended the festivities.

It was less colorful than the Republican convention. Missing were “fire and brimstone” preachers and Wane le Pierre and his fervent message “An armed America is a safer America!” (Beware of the government, the Democrats want to take your guns!)

When Steve Simon gave his acceptance speech for being nominated for Secretary of State his first words were to praise his opponent Debra Hilstrom. “Don’t count her out. She is dedicated and will continue to serve the people of Minnesota.” He has been actively involved in protecting voters rights.

When a smiling Amy Klobuchar took the podium, she prompted a standing ovation, an explosion of cheering and clapping that lasted possibly five minutes. After a few upbeat remarks she introduced Al Franken. She commented on the Republican’s reluctance to seat him when he was elected to the Senate. They kept him waiting six months, effectively denying our state two Senators for that time. She laughed and said he proceeded to accomplish more in five and a half years than other senators did in six!

During the 2012 campaign Governor Dayton was asked what would happen if voters elected a DFL majority in the House and Senate. He answered in one word: “progress!” In the last two legislative sessions that’s exactly what happened.

The DFL legislators turned a $600 million budget deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus which allowed making investments in heating assistance for low-income families, investing in early childhood education, two year tuition freeze at the University of Minnesota and community colleges, an additional $23 million for Minnesota schools, tax cuts for more than 2 million Minnesotans, the elimination of the marriage penalty, tax cuts for working families and property tax relief for homeowners, renters, and farmers.

In general the economy is growing. There is less unemployment. The Star Tribune gives a favorable report on health care in Minnesota. “The percentage of uninsured has dropped to the lowest level in state history, and the second-lowest level in the nation, following the end of enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.” Minnesota is one of 26 states to expand Medicaid to include childless adults.

Our state is providing an example of the success that can result from having Democratic leadership and a Democratic majority in the house and senate. We can only imagine the progress that could have been made in our country if President Obama had retained a Democratic majority in the house during his administration.

It is regrettable that those dominating the Republican party came to Washington, not to govern, but to “protest”. They have been unwilling to confront the problems, the growing disparity between rich and poor, unemployment, polluting the environment, illegal immigration, and the increasing cost and lack of accessible health care. They are unwilling to invest in research, education, transportation, and infrastructure. I don’t know how they expect to “grow” the economy. (?)

Discussing illegal immigration usually ends with cries of “amnesty!” Amnesty is a wastebasket in which we dispose of responsibility. Their other demand is that we close the border before dealing with the “eleven million” people who are undocumented. “Closing the borders” is not possible. If we are to improve the situation our effort has to be comprehensive and include all aspects of the problem.

They are against abortion. No one is “for” abortion. The conservative “solution” is abstinence, which is not enthusiastically embraced and making abortion illegal, even suggesting that it be considered a “criminal” offence. This approach would not stop abortions. If we are serious about reducing the number of abortions it is through education, prevention and providing programs that support women who want to carry to full term and need help.

They are against regulating banks and corporations. They are for cutting funding for agencies that limit pollution of our water, earth and air. Quite amazingly, Republicans at their convention were discussing reducing funds for FEMA as Isaac was washing up against the doors of the convention center.

They are for the “right to work” law which deprives workers of bargaining rights. They promote ‘voter I.D.” which is really an effort to suppress voting of vulnerable citizens. I’m always surprised when they extol the virtues of Liberty and Freedom!

After the activities, I waited for my ride in the lobby. I was approached by a young man who asked me to sign a petition protesting “privatizing” prisons. I told him I was glad to add my name to the list. The idea of “prisons or profit” is immoral. There is no way that justice can be served by this process.

At the end of the day I relaxed at my son’s home in Lakewood and reflected on the fact that I am fortunate to be living in the state of Minnesota and a country called America.

(I relied on the “Minnesota DFL Party” for information about the economy: as well as the Star Tribune.)

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