Category Archives: Politics

Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota Politics: Lindsey Port Speech

You know what’s weird? Discussing sexual misconduct at the dinner table with your kids.

We’ve discussed a lot of politics in the past year or two, not because my family is especially political, but because the issues have demanded it.

It’s hard to describe the moment my son yelled out, “What’s a pussy?” or the face my daughter made when it dawned on her what the President of the United States had said.

Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota

That issue came home for me this fall when State Representative Erin Maye Quade and candidate Lindsey Port came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against two members of the Minnesota legislature. It seemed the flood of #MeToo stories heard around the country were coming home to Minnesota (that feeling would only deepen with the stories about Senator Al Franken and Garrison Keillor).

Lindsey Port’s speech at the Sexual Harassment Task Force Rally (transcript below):

Continue reading Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota Politics: Lindsey Port Speech

Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Two years ago we heard nothing but complaints about our choices for who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election.

We hear complaints that there aren’t enough minority or female voices in the process.

People are frustrated that their views aren’t represented.

I’m a big believer in ‘stop complaining and start doing.’

We’re heading into the 2018 midterm elections, with all of the U.S. House, a third of the U.S. Senate, and control of state legislatures and governors’ offices around the country, as well as all kinds of local races on the line.

If you want to see candidates you support, now is the time to get involved. Here in Minnesota, caucusing begins Feb. 6. This is a byzantine process for parties to endorse their preferred candidate. It’s not the only path to office, but it’s a big one. So it’s time to start paying attention. Continue reading Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Tonight I went to another political meet and greet. Second one this week. And I took my daughter. Again.

I’m not sure what’s going on.

That’s not true. I’m angry. That’s what’s going on. This story broke about Minnesota House candidate Lindsey Port being blackballed  by DFL donors for speaking out against sexual misconduct.

So I’m feeling this push to be involved, to speak out, to let my voice be heard. I’m not just going to sit at home and complain.

Tonight Lexi and I walked to the coffee shop to hear from Minnesota 2nd Congressional District candidate Jeff Erdmann (“It’s spelled like ‘Nerdman,’ but take the ‘n’ off the front and put it on the back.”). He’s challenging 2016 DFL candidate Angie Craig for the DFL endorsement to face incumbent Jason Lewis in November.

I liked hearing Jeff’s story. He teaches American government to ninth graders at Rosemount High School. He teaches varsity football. He’s on reduced time at school in order to campaign (as reduced as he can and still keep health insurance) and his wife took a part-time job.  Continue reading Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Senate District 52 DFL Gubernatorial Meet & Greet

I went to an event to meet DFL candidates for governor tonight. There are six candidates lined up so far: Chris Coleman, Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy, Rebecca Otto, Paul Thissen, and Tim Walz (Walz actually couldn’t make it, since he had to return to Washington for a vote).

The place was packed with a couple hundred people, all energized and fired up. It was a good chance to actually talk to the candidates and ask the questions you wanted to.

I’ve never been very involved in politics, but after the 2016 campaign when so many people complained about the lack of quality candidates, I think it’s important to get involved and be a voice in the process.

So Who’s the Best Candidate?

The challenge right now is there’s not a lot of difference between the candidates. They all have pretty similar positions. I liked Rebecca Otto going into this event, and I still like her. I also liked the energy of Erin Murphy and Chris Coleman.

I think Otto has some real practical plans—not just pie-in-the-sky ideas. As state auditor, she’s all about the numbers. She’s very practical, and I think that has pretty broad appeal. She’s also won state office before, by wider margins than both previous governors.

But I think I could get behind a lot of these candidates.

One thing I keep coming back to is I think it’s time for a woman to be governor of Minnesota. That’s not a deciding issue for sure, but when I see candidates that are pretty close on a lot of the issues, that becomes more important.

What it really comes down to is strong ideas to improve Minnesota. That’s pretty exciting.

The Next Generation

I also brought Lexi along with me tonight. We’ve talked a little about the gubernatorial contest and a lot about politics in general. Lexi doesn’t understand why there aren’t more women in these roles, so she’s excited to see more women running.

It was fun to bring her along and talk to some candidates and talk about some issues. Liebling talked about being inspired by Paul Wellstone, and mentioned talking to college students who didn’t know who Wellstone was. She said there probably wasn’t anyone here tonight who didn’t know Wellstone, though Lexi didn’t know.

So we got to talk about Paul Wellstone.

As a bonus, Lexi also won a door prize of a print with Wellstone’s famous phrase, “We all do better when we all do better.”

"We all do better when we all do better." -Paul Wellstone

We also talked about how politics actually does matter and changes things that impact our lives. The DFL passed gay marriage in Minnesota, making it possible for our LGBT friends to get married here. When Lexi started kindergarten she went half-day because we would have had to pay $3,000 to send her. When Milo started kindergarten he could go all day thanks to the all-day kindergarten the DFL passed.

We also talked about how ideas like help with college tuition will really impact Lexi’s future.

These kinds of things matter.

So it’s exciting to go to stuff like this and get involved and push for better things for our state and country. And bringing your kid along? Even better.

(Big thanks to everyone who worked to make tonight’s event happen.)

Time for Minnesota’s First Female Governor?

Today I met Tina Liebling, a Minnesota state representative who is running for governor in 2018. It feels so early to be thinking about the 2018 campaign for Minnesota governor. But if I’ve learned anything about the 2016 campaign it’s that we need to be more involved.

Everybody complained in 2016 that they didn’t like any of the candidates. Well, if you want a candidate on the ballot that you like, you need to get involved early and support the candidate you want to see. Continue reading Time for Minnesota’s First Female Governor?

How Does Our Democracy Move Forward in the Trump Era?

The current political climate, in the third week of the Trump presidency, is a little, um, overwhelming. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the constant political discussion on social media, and retreating from the conversation.

I get that.

But at the same time, well, this is not a normal time. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this new not normal. I think we all are.

The Era of Fake News & Alternative Facts

It’s frustrating because as much as Donald Trump complains about the media and “fake news,” hasn’t he been one of the main perpetrators and benefactors of fake news?

He stoked the birther movement against Barack Obama. He questioned the legitimacy of a sitting president, refusing to believe that the son of a black, Muslim immigrant could rightfully be president.

It was the epitome of fake news.

And where did it get Trump? The oval office. Continue reading How Does Our Democracy Move Forward in the Trump Era?

I’m Sorry

We’re two weeks into the Trump era, and I need to apologize.

In just two weeks we’ve entered brand new territory. I say that in the most non-partisan way possible. Some folks say this is just the polar opposite of eight years ago when Obama took office, but I think this is something different (and when I talk to conservatives, most [though not all] agree with that sentiment).

I need to apologize because I never took this election seriously.

In general I’m not a big fan of debating politics publicly (which may come as a shock, given my flurry of political tweets in the past few weeks). I’ve talked before about how I did too much of that in 2008, and didn’t like it. Throughout the 2016 campaign I didn’t say a lot. I said things here and there, but in general I didn’t engage.

I kept thinking there’s no way Trump will get the nomination.

Then I thought there’s no way he’d win the presidency.  Continue reading I’m Sorry

Encourage Women to Run for Elected Office

Before the election I wrote a blog post about women running for potential political firsts on my ballot. Only one of the three women I highlighted actually won, but it was still progress.

West St. Paul has its first ever female mayor in Jenny Halverson.

That’s pretty cool.

Yesterday a whole lot of women marched, making a powerful statement that they will not be ignored. It was pretty amazing. I’m inspired by all those bold women, and I want to see more women running for office.

For too long the political arena has been dominated by men, and I think when we’re so dominated by one, singular voice we can miss out on the contributions and perspectives of so many other voices.

Yesterday women marched. Today, I hope women run.

So who are the women who could run for office in upcoming elections?  There are some offices up for election in 2017. A ton of positions will be on the ballot in 2018—school board, city council, mayor, representative, governor, etc. Continue reading Encourage Women to Run for Elected Office

Coming to Terms With President Trump

Today is a bizarre day in American politics. In a few short hours, Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.

I say it’s bizarre because I think people need to understand how far removed we are from politics as usual. A lot of conservatives tell me that now I’ll know what it was like for them to live under Obama.

But I don’t think that’s the case. I know what that was like. We had eight years of George W. Bush. Most of us have disagreed with presidents in the past. Maybe we didn’t like the person or we didn’t like their policies (Iraq, economy, healthcare, gay marriage—pick your issue), but there was still a sense of this is our president, and I can voice my complaint and we’ll move forward.

Donald Trump is something else.

A lot has been said about all his antics and the way he antagonizes so many minority groups. I could go on and on. But I think this Politico piece talking with Trump’s biographers offers a fascinating look into his psyche.  Continue reading Coming to Terms With President Trump

Save the Good Ideas in Affordable Care Act

It feels like my social media feeds exploded this week as Congress began the work to repeal and dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Especially with the 1:30 a.m. vote.

Now I get it, Republicans won control. They’re going to do what they want. There’s no saving the ACA as we know it.

But we can save the good (and popular) ideas in the ACA.

I’ve seen an outcry over all the good things in ACA that could be lost. And I’m not just hearing it from my lefty friends. Support for the Affordable Care Act is widespread:

  • 66% of voters want preexisting conditions covered.
  • 63% of voters want to be able to keep their kids on their plans until age 26.
  • 56% want subsidies for low-income Americans.
  • 56% want federal funding to expand state Medicare programs.
  • 53% want insurers to cover birth control.

The ACA is flawed and needs improvement, but it has a lot of worthy ideas that have improved healthcare in America. Some of these ideas have literally saved lives.

For six years Republicans have tried to repeal the ACA without the votes to do it or a plan for anything better. It was simply a way to earn political points. In November they cashed those points in, but they still have no better plan.

But that’s fine. There are plenty of good ideas in the ACA. Take them. Use them. Come up with a better healthcare plan. Lives are depending on it.

We somehow managed to make it through a horrendously long political campaign season without having much of a substantive, public debate on healthcare. It seems a little late to do it now, a little late to hold candidates accountable when they railed against Obamacare but didn’t offer alternatives. But better late than never.

Contact your representatives. Participate. Be heard.