It’s time to get our Politics on. Lavender is more than just a pretty face—we’ve got substance, too. And, we’re making sure that we ask questions of our political parties here in Minnesota so that we can be as informed as we can be during this upcoming election. Representing the five most recognized parties: Ken Martin, Minnesota Democratic-Farm-Labor Party (DFL) Chair; Tony Sutton, Republican Party of Minnesota (MN GOP) Chair; Mark Jenkins, Independence Party of Minnesota Chair; Andy Hamerlinck for the Green Party of Minnesota; and S. L. Malleck, Libertarian Party of Minnesota Vice Chair.
We’re looking ahead to Election 2012, but there’s still an Election to happen in a few weeks. What should we expect to happen on November 8, 2011?
As property taxes rise, people across the state will be reminded of the GOP budget that chose to protect the richest 7,700 Minnesotans and raise taxes on all Minnesotans. Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislators will continue to work for all Minnesotans through legislation that represents the values and interests of our state. Our DFL leaders have and will continue to invest in new technologies that will create jobs, strengthen our education system and work to improve our state’s economy.
We expect that denied a tax increase in 2011, Gov. Dayton will be even more obsessed with his “tax the rich” approach to a structural budget crisis. As was the case in 2011, we expect the Democrats will give lip service to supporting the governor and will run away from huge tax increases the governor will likely propose. Democrats will continue to propose more programs and more government spending without a way to pay for either. We expect Republican legislators, more comfortable with their majority status, to make even bolder structural reforms to state government. Look for the Republican Legislature to mitigate the negative affects of federal program like the “AfforDable Care Act” on people in Minnesota.
The Republicans and Democrats will continue to blame the State’s budget compromise, sluggish economy, high unemployment, and every other ill they can imagine on each other. They will frame the 2012 election around the failings caused by the other Party as opposed to the solutions that they should be bringing forward themselves.
The public’s frustration with politics as usual will continue to drive reasonable Republicans and practical progressives towards the Independence Party and its advocacy for innovative solutions and real reform. The majority of Minnesotans who do not identify with any particular party will be looking for smart, articulate and “Minnesota first” style leadership in the state legislature.
The Independence Party will continue to recruit and promote these types of candidates, as we have for 20 years. And we will make winning seats in the Minnesota state legislature our number one priority.
Besides the presidential contest, the highest profile issue on the ballot next year will be the so-called “marriage amendment.” Minnesota will lead the nation by being the first state whose people explicitly reject the bigotry that this amendment is attempting to bring to our state. It will take a powerful grassroots movement, but it can – and must – be done. 2012 will be a landmark year for Civil Rights in our state.
With the Democrats and Republicans dominating the legislature, the public will continue to endure divisive debates on the marriage amendment, stadium proposals, the state budget, and almost every other issue. Whether the Republicans remain in control at the Capitol or if Democrats regain it, it will not make a long-term difference. Taxes, spending, and debt will continue to increase, causing a gradual decline in the standard of living for many Minnesotans, and more laws will be passed to micro-manage our lives, catching more people in the crosshairs of government.
We are calling for people to investigate our philosophy and to consider running for local and state office as Libertarians in the 2012 election, so that more of the public can be offered a fresh perspective and new solutions.
What are your 5 top issues between now and Election 2012?
Job Creation. President Obama has proposed the American Jobs Act that includes investments in education and infrastructure that will not only put thousands of Minnesotans and Americans back to work but improve America’s schools, bridges, roads and public buildings. We support new and creative ways to put Minnesotans back to work, which is exactly what Governor Dayton and President Obama are working to do.
Economy. Our economy is directly affected by our country’s ability to create jobs. The DFL stands behind President Obama’s American Jobs Act that will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work by investing in infrastructure and education. The plan also includes a payroll tax cut that will put money back in the pockets of America’s middle class. The DFL will continue to support Governor Dayton and the DFL legislators, who have been touring the state looking for new ways to put Minnesotans back to work.
Defeating the Marriage Ban Amendment. The DFL is working with the campaign Minnesotans United for All Families to help coordinate efforts to defeat the anti-marriage amendment. The Party stands for equality and fairness and we are working hard to help coordinate a grassroots campaign that will ensure the discriminatory amendment is defeated in 2012.
Education. The DFL believes that our schools must be adequately funded to provide our children with the necessary tools and resources to succeed. The future of Minnesota is dependent on our priorities and education is one of the top priorities. Minnesota attracts employers because of our strong education infrastructure and we must continue to fund our education system to maintain our strong workforce.
State Budget. Governor Dayton proposed a responsible, fair and honest solution to our state budget that included both cuts and additional revenue. The DFL will continue to support legislation that protects middle-class Minnesotans in a fair and balanced way. We will work for new budget solutions that do not borrow money from our schools and local governments. The DFL supports Governor Dayton’s proposal to make the richest Minnesotans pay their fair share so we can continue to adequately fund education, hospitals and our local governments.
Private Sector Job Growth. Government cannot create jobs. Jobs are created by a growing and prosperous economy. Economic growth precedes job creation. “Economic growth” is the result of productivity increases in the private sector. This is achieved by reducing taxation and excessive regulation, which frees businesses to innovate and produce more for less. In turn that lowers prices, creates a real demand for labor that raises wages and creates new wealth that sustains further economic growth.
Eliminate Excessive Regulation. Excessive government regulation is a hidden tax that hurts all Minnesotans through higher prices for goods and services and lower wages. Understand there are two types of is legitimate regulation that protects public safety and prevents force and fraud. Regulations that interfere with the ability of people to voluntarily conduct business, on the other hand, are beyond the scope of government and effectively destroy jobs and economic growth.
Right to Work. By definition, the purpose of unions is to raise wage levels and benefit packages above what employers would pay in an open market. Unions are a good deal for members that benefit from higher wages and greater benefits, but economic principle always prevails – paying some people an artificially high wage necessarily means higher prices for products and fewer available jobs. Right to work laws, which enable a person to work at a “union shop” without having to join a union, opens new jobs, especially at entry-level positions. Right to work is both an economic and a moral issue.
Redistricting. There is no more important issue facing Minnesota than redrawing legislative and congressional district lines to ensure the principle of “one person, one vote.” Redistricting based on geographic lines and divisions captures the essence of a whole community and is the only objective and fair way to ensure “one person, one vote.”
Structural Reform of Government. Media reporting during the last legislative session focused on the debate over the size of the budget. Lost in that perspective were significant structural reforms made by the legislature. Minnesota has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, but the spending problem has a deeper root cause – the scope of state government far exceeds its constitutional authority.
Social Reform. We have become active partners with Minnesotans United for All Families. Our advocacy includes hosting Minnesotans United at IP events, sharing the importance of this effort with our members and spreading the message to the public through candidates and other public media opportunities.
Political Reform. The Independence Party has been a partner of Fair Vote Minnesota for several years and we are proud to continue that support in the hope that all Minnesota elections use Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also known as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), sooner than later. As with Minnesotans United, we host Fair Vote Minnesota at IP events, advocate for this important reform with our members and share our support with the public through our candidates and several other outreach opportunities.
Fiscal Reform. This issue is the newest of our three primary issue advocacy initiatives. We are currently exploring partnerships with organizations that share our belief in true fiscal responsibility. During the last legislative session, and through the state government shutdown, the IP was very vocal about the need for real budget reform. We spoke against the mutually exclusive positions of “tax the rich” and “cut taxes” that came from the other two major parties. And we fiercely opposed the so-called “compromise” that only kicked the state’s budget mess to the next legislative session through increased borrowing.
Financial Crisis. Tax the Rich! The United States needs a progressive income tax and corporations need to pay their fair share, too. We will be standing with the protesters who Occupy Wall Street and Minneapolis.
Bringing a Green New Deal to the U.S. The way to bring sustainable jobs to this country is through a massive investment in public infrastructure, training, and technology that is environmentally focused.
Ending the Wars in the Middle East. The money we spend on war is desperately needed here at home, for jobs, housing, public works projects, and much more. We will continue to protest against the wars in the Middle East, and to call on the President and Congress to bring our troops home.
Stop Obama’s Resurrection of Nuclear Power. In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, we need to follow Germany’s lead and get serious about transitioning away from nuclear energy completely. Greens are actively educating the public on a “No Nukes!” tour throughout the country right now.
Ensure Civil Rights for All. Minnesota is the battleground for Civil Rights in 2012 and we will be full participants in fighting against the “marriage amendment,” and for equality for all Minnesotans.
Gay Marriage. Build support for defeating the constitutional gay marriage ban, as well as encouraging repeal of the existing statutory gay marriage ban. Libertarians seek to end the government’s involvement in all personal affairs, allowing each individual to live their own lives as they choose.
Propose alternatives to corporate welfare and social welfare. Republicans often claim that failing businesses need government support, now including outright taxpayer bailouts, to failing businesses. By contrast, Libertarians believe that inefficient businesses should be allowed to fail, making room for upstart entrepreneurs to take their place. Similarly, Democrats often claim the importance of giving government support to those in need, such as the poor. By contrast, Libertarians understand that some individuals do need a helping hand from time to time, but realize that charitable donors and caring volunteers do a better job of determining legitimate need and addressing those needs, than bureaucratic welfare programs which only lead to dependency rather than self-sufficiency.
End War on Drugs. Build support for ending the War on Drugs. Drug Prohibition has been a decades-long failure, leading to increased crime and violence, more dangerous and addictive drugs being developed, and skyrocketing imprisonments, all without stemming the flow of drugs or preventing their consumption. Even patients for whom marijuana is the only remedy are prevented from using it.
Foreign Wars. Draw attention to the injustice of our foreign wars. Not only has US military involvement overseas cost tremendous sums of money, it has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and foreigners alike, and is also the root cause of terrorism.
Finance and Money. Draw attention to the problems with our financial and monetary system. Decades ago, the Federal Reserve was given a monopoly on creating the nation’s money supply. They have gravely mismanaged that responsibility, whipsawing the economy with numerous boom and bust cycles, leading to bankruptcies of business owners and devaluation of workers’ savings through inflation. Ending the Fed’s monopoly and returning to sound money, most likely backed by gold, would end politically-based manipulation of interest rates, lead to a stable economy, and ensure that peoples’ earnings retain their value and purchasing power.
What do you predict will happen in the time before Election 2012 on a national level?
President Obama will continue to stand with consumers and middle class Americans by fighting for job creating legislation. The American Jobs Act is just one example of President Obama’s efforts to turn our economy around. The strength of our economy and the demand for jobs will be a critical issue at both the state and federal level. I hope our country and elected officials will do what is best for our county and pass the American Jobs Act so our country can move forward by creating jobs and investing in our most important asset, education.
It is apparent that President Obama is following a playbook similar to Gov. Dayton in Minnesota. The president is pushing a populist, class warfare “tax the rich” agenda without offering any economic argument as to how taking capital out of productive use and redistributing it through government will increase economic growth and produce a net increase in jobs. The more the president pushes his approach, the longer it will take the economy to recover. We do not expect real economic growth prior to the 2012 election, and we expect the election to be a referendum on President Obama’s mishandling of the economy. The election – state as well as national – will be a referendum on President Obama and the Democrat Party.
While the Independence Party of Minnesota is focused primarily on state issues, Minnesota has proven to be a bellwether state when it comes to national politics and economy. Minnesotans have grown frustrated with government and the economy just as citizens throughout the country have. Politics at the national level is just as divisive and partisan as it is in Minnesota. Partisan paralysis in Minnesota and Washington, D.C. has led to a government shutdown in Minnesota and three close calls in D.C. in just the past 4 months.
There are different groups developing throughout the country such as No Labels and Americans Elect that reflect citizens’ growing frustrations. Our prediction is that Americans will continue to grow increasingly active in these principled movements away from the orthodoxy of the Democratic and Republican parties. Ultimately America will benefit from a greater diversity of voices in our political process as well as an increased spirit of collaboration and innovation.
The Occupy Wall Street movement will have a significant and far reaching impact on changing the conversation in Washington and all over the country. Significant social change is always lead by the people, not politicians. The people have been fed up with politicians who support Wall St. over Main St. for quite some time, and this powerful movement’s impact will be felt in 2012 as it is now.
As on the state level, issues at the federal level will also remain intractable with Democrats and Republicans holding a monopoly on political power. Whether the Republicans keep their majority in Congress or lose it to the Democrats, it will not make a significant difference, just as the election of President Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress in 2008 didn’t end the wars in the Middle East, stop taxpayer-funded bailouts to major corporations, end the federal government’s prosecution of peaceful marijuana consumers, or lead to the repeal of the anti-gay Defense Of Marriage Act.
However, Ron Paul’s campaign in the 2012 Presidential race is allowing libertarian ideas to become more widely introduced to the public. His standing continues to grow as he is attracting the support of Libertarians as well as disaffected Democrats and Republicans. As a long-time advocate of ending the wars in the Middle East wars and many other principled positions, even when those positions were unpopular, we believe he can be trusted to enact these stances if elected. Whether he wins or not, his efforts are helping to build support for the libertarian movement.
Who To Watch on the Way to Election 2012
President Barack Obama: Our President was influential in the repeal of DADT. He has been a tireless leader in the fight for equal rights and working for the middle class. President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act which will put Americans back to work and get our nation’s economy moving again. (DFL)
Kurt Zellers and Amy Koch: Their job is to maintain these majorities, prove they were not a fluke and advance Reform 2.0. (GOP)
Tom Horner: Horner earned the votes of a quarter-million Minnesotans and continues to maintain a respected platform as a voice for innovation and intelligent solutions to the challenges our state government faces. (Ind.)
Cam Gordon: Gordon is a Minneapolis City Council Member and a model local legislator who is committed to citizen participation. (Green)
Ron Paul: Paul is the most well-known libertarian, although he’s chosen to run under the Republican banner as the best way to gain media coverage. (Lib.)
Senator Amy Klobuchar: Senator Klobuchar faces re-election in 2012. She has been a leader in consumer-advocacy for our state and is critical that our state sends Senator Klobuchar back to Washington. (DFL)
Chip Cravaack: His reelection in 2012 will validate that the 8th District vote in 2010 was a real move to the right and a vote for change. (GOP)
Richard Carlbom: Carlbom comes to the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign with a strong DFL background but will be tasked with (and is equipped for) leadership of a politically diverse coalition. He will prove we can all work together. (Ind.)
Jill Stein: Stein is a Massachusetts physician and potential Green Party candidate for President in 2012. (Green)
John Stossel, investigative journalist. (Lib.)
Senator Tom Bakk & Representative Paul Thissen: The DFL Caucus leadership continue to work for legislation that creates jobs and stand firm against a divisive social agenda that attacks human rights. (DFL)
Tea Party: The Tea Party shares the GOP’s conservative principles, but sometimes differs on policy. At the grassroots level, the Tea Party and GOP coming together makes each organization stronger. (GOP)
John Kriesel: Kriesel was certainly someone to watch in 2011. The IP may not share all his policy beliefs, but his willingness to put Minnesota before the GOP should be applauded. (Ind.)
Elizabeth May: May is the first ever Green MP in Canada and was elected in 2011. (Green)
Ian Freeman. Freeman is a civil disobedience activist and host of the libertarian talk radio program Free Talk Live. (Lib.)