I always try to blog about the election before it happens. It’s partially a coping mechanism and partially my need to document what’s happening. Elections are a very strange tipping point in time where everything changes, so it seems key to capture your thoughts before they’re influenced by the change.
In previous elections, I’ve blogged about candidate and made endorsements and tried to help people sort through all the confusion. I didn’t do much of that this year, mostly because of my work with West St. Paul Reader and my attempt at a non-endorsement policy there (which I broke; I endorsed Lisa Eng-Sarne for ward 3 city council). In 2018 I even blogged my entire ballot (and all my picks won). I also didn’t go that route because of my Better Politics, Please book. Not that better politics means you can’t support anyone, but it just gets awkward to go after candidates hard while also trumpeting this better approach. There’s a bit of friction there.
Sometimes blogging is freeing and helps me get thoughts out of my head so I can make sense of them. But other times it just feels like too much work. That’s a little of how it feels now.
And honestly, that’s what the last four years have felt like—unending exhaustion.
So let’s talk about it—briefly, cuz exhaustion—and then we’ll see what happens on Election Day.
I’ve held off on making endorsements this year in a number of local political races because of my work with West St. Paul Reader. However, I am enthusiastically endorsing Lisa Eng-Sarne for West St. Paul Ward 3 City Council.
The Bullying, Lying Opponent
Given the competition, my endorsement should be no surprise. I wrote extensively about her opponent, David Meisinger, in 2018 and his bullying, intimidating behavior.
He hasn’t changed.
This year he’s making false, misleading statements, implying that he’s the sole ‘law and order,’ pro-police candidate while also suggesting we’re living in “lawless” times with “unchecked crime and disorder.” He’s wrong on both counts. No candidates in West St. Paul have attacked police or even suggested defunding police. And there is no significant spike in crime in West St. Paul.
Anyone supporting him should be asking some serious questions about the statements he makes, his lack of transparency, and his completely inappropriate behavior.
Vote for Lisa Eng-Sarne
But why waste any more time talking about him? Let’s talk about Lisa Eng-Sarne.
Eng-Sarne first ran in 2018 in a four-way primary for the Ward 3 City Council. At the time, I supported Wendy Berry. But I also wrote letters to the editor encouraging people to pick Berry or Eng-Sarne. I could only vote for one, and I ended up with Berry. But I also supported Eng-Sarne when a seat opened up on City Council and someone had to be appointed. So Eng-Sarne has represented my ward on City Council since January 2019, and I’ve been impressed with her work.
What a rollercoaster ride this has been. I could probably say that about every book project I’ve done, but this one really felt like it. With a pandemic, civil unrest, and now a Supreme Court fight, this has been a trying time.
And that’s why I think this book is more necessary than ever. People will always disagree, but we need to find a way to do it without condemning each other to hell. That sounds extreme, but that’s how people treat one another today.
Sometimes I think we need to find something to celebrate in people we disagree with. We need some small measure of common ground. I don’t pretend to be a peacemaker who can bring all sides together and create harmony, but I think that can be a productive start.
Instead of picking fights, let’s start conversations.
Let’s Make Civic Engagement More Civil
I hope that’s what this book can be. It’s 35 stories of politicians from both sides of the aisle, from all levels of government, and finds something in who they are and what they say that can be inspiring.
Today saw a few interesting twists in Minnesota state politics, including the Republican-controlled Senate ousting a member of Governor Tim Walz’s cabinet and a DFL House member disclosing that he had COVID-19. But no twist was bigger than Republican Representative Jon Koznick of Lakeville mistakenly emailing strategy talking points to his Democratic opponents instead of his Republic colleagues. Oops.
It’s more than embarrassing, however. On the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, when we’re reminded to ‘never forget,’ the Minnesota Legislature debated whether or not to override an extension of Walz’s emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,800 Minnesotans have died, more than 190,000 Americans have died, and we’re debating whether or not this is an emergency.
It’s the content of Koznick’s strategy that goes beyond embarrassing. He was attempting to urge his Republic colleagues to stay on message in the debate:
“COVID issues are not our winning message. PUBLIC SAFETY is our ticket to the majority, let’s win with that.”
Last week we had to make the brutal decision to put down our dog Mazie. Oh, Mazie-butt. (Yes, I called her Mazie-butt, a nickname she earned pretty early).
We picked up Mazie as a rescue near the town of Mazomanie, Wisconsin (thus her name). She was a rat terrier/corgi mix, a brutal combination that meant she wanted to herd things while also killing them. It also gave her body a peculiar shape and those awesome radar ears (they started out droopy, then stood up one at a time; unless it was super damp and one dropped again). She was the runt of the litter, and seemed to follow us around in a pathetic “pick me!” sort of way.
When she first came home, she was tiny. Like walk under our first dog, Speak, and he was small too.
But she didn’t stay tiny. She grew into a tank. She wasn’t big exactly, but solid.
I’ve been too busy to blog. We’re in a weird time here in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic and probably the most important presidential election in my lifetime. That pandemic has caused an economic scare (never mind, you know, death), and things are just weird.
I wrote about it a bit this spring to capture my feelings, and those days feel so long ago. So maybe it’s time to do it again. (This is going to be a bit scattered, so I apologize in advance for that.)
A couple weeks back Senator Cory Booker appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to talk about George Floyd and the protests and the reaction. It’s an incredible interview and I encourage you to watch it.
The whole interview is about half an hour, but there’s about a 15-minute chunk that gets away from the current politics and focuses on racism and this moment in America that is just powerful stuff.
Booker and Colbert have been discussing the protests in Washington D.C. and how President Donald Trump cleared out Lafayette Park for a photo opp, and Colbert asks what it’s like in D.C. right now and if this is a harbinger of things to come. Booker launches into a very personal and emotional response that is worth your time: