Tag Archives: minnesota

Black Suffrage in Minnesota

When Minnesota became a state in 1858, we failed to give black men the right to vote. 

The legislator tried to fix that in 1865. It failed.

So they tried again in 1866. It failed.

So they tried again in 1867. It failed.

They tried once again in 1868, and this time it finally passed. 

Two years later it became law across the nation with the ratification of the 15th amendment in 1870.

Progress is slow and full of failure. 

So keep trying.

And when you do achieve progress, keep going. Don’t rest on your laurels: Minnesotans like to applaud all our progressive ways, but our disparity between whites and people of color are among the worst in the nation.

(A lesson pulled from a Black Suffrage in Minnesota presentation by Dr. William Green at Dakota County Libraries. Learn more about the passage of black suffrage in Minnesota in this article by Green from the Minnesota Historical Society.)

Erin Murphy for Minnesota Governor: Vote Aug. 14

I’m excited to support Erin Murphy for Minnesota governor this year. Really. There’s an energy around her campaign and I like where she stands.

Minnesota has a crowded primary this year, with multiple candidates in both parties vying for governor and other major positions. So it’s important to vote in the primary on Aug. 14, 2018. We’ll see if we can touch the most-recent high turnout of 20% from 1998 (or top 1994’s 27%?).

Excited by Erin Murphy

I don’t think I’ve ever been excited for a governor’s race. Even in 1998 when Jesse Ventura came out of nowhere to win it, I was still a Michigan resident and not paying much attention to Minnesota. I’ve been happy with current Governor Mark Dayton, but he never excited me.

But I’m excited by Erin Murphy.


Continue reading Erin Murphy for Minnesota Governor: Vote Aug. 14

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

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?

Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

This year’s election has felt more divisive and caustic than previous elections. That’s no secret. So in such an environment, it’s helpful to focus on the positive: Women achieving public office.

On my ballot there are at least three women running for positions that a woman has never held before. I think that’s exciting.

I think it’s worth talking about these potential milestones, regardless of your political leanings.

Let’s take a moment to address why celebrating this kind of diversity is important. Continue reading Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

2012 Election Reflection

Obama family at 2012 election night acceptance speech

Presidential election night is such a nervous, glorious mishmash of emotions. I can think of no other event when something so big is decided so quickly. Sure, the election drags on forever, but despite the polls you never know for sure who’s going to win. Then everybody votes, we tally ’em up while some talking heads blather on, and it’s decided (usually: thank goodness for not repeating 2000). Done. The next four years are in place. History is written.

It’s big.

I have a hard time getting anything done on election day (that’s why I turned to a distraction). Even today I’ll need to process for a while (and I’m doing that here… get ready for a long post). Continue reading 2012 Election Reflection

Vote No on the Marriage Amendment in Minnesota

I’ve tried (at length) to write about the marriage amendment in Minnesota without success. I did manage to write about how their language offends me (since then I’ve seen ads touting “real” marriage?!), but I haven’t written directly about the amendment. I’ll try now (and it’s my last “here’s where I stand” post of the election cycle, I swear).

For all the articles I’ve read and back and forth arguments I’ve considered (enough to make your head spin), I think this is the strongest issue for me (and it stands regardless of your views on homosexuality).

This excerpt of an article by two Bethel professors sums it up:

“This is not an amendment to Christianity. It is an amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. We live in a pluralist society, not a theocracy. So while it may be important for Christians to debate Christian perspectives on marriage, it is not fair to force all Minnesotans to have the same ideals. Whether we like it or not, not all Minnesotans are Christians. Forcing religious ideals on non-believers is a violation of the separation of church and state. And, to use Alexis de Tocqueville’s words, it is a tyranny of the majority. What happens when the majority of Minnesotans are no longer Christian? Are we willing to accept the precedent this amendment sets – that the dominant religion can force their beliefs into law? If not, we suggest voting NO.”

Thank you for putting words to the argument I’ve been having in my head for the last decade.

I think it’s sad that this whole issue is about protecting the sanctity marriage from people who want to get married. Meanwhile few are protecting the sanctity of marriage from the ones already married and getting divorced. If you want to be pro marriage, put your effort into helping marriages, not passing laws.

Vote No on Voter ID in Minnesota

I’ve been so leery of discussing politics this year that I’ve hardly said anything. That’s probably a little extreme as well. We need to learn how to discuss politics in a way that doesn’t resort to Facebook jackassery. I’m trying to learn how to communicate about these touchy issues in a way that’s actually useful. I hope you can cut me some slack.

Minnesota has two amendments on the ballot this year: anti-gay marriage and voter ID. I’ve said my piece (sort of: no!) on the marriage amendment. Now let’s talk voter ID.

In general, I’m not a fan of voter restrictions. I think it should be easy to vote. I’m proud of the incredible voter turnout in Minnesota (77.8% in 2008, best in the nation by far). Restrictions on voting smack of poll taxes and all the sleazy efforts to suppress the vote during the civil rights era.

However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to verify who they are when they vote. Showing some sort of ID, provided we make accommodations, doesn’t seem like a ridiculous restriction.

So I’m willing to consider voter ID.

Unfortunately, the amendment being considered in Minnesota doesn’t do a good job. It doesn’t really do anything. It doesn’t answer any questions or spell out how our new voter ID system will work. The amendment leaves that job to the legislature.

So when both sides argue about what the voter ID amendment will or won’t do, they’re wrong (unless they tell you we don’t know). The pro-voter ID folks give all kinds of lovely answers about how issues will be addressed. The problem is they’re basing their answers on legislation that was vetoed. We don’t really know how voter ID will be implemented or what kind of reasonable accommodations will be made.

All we’re doing is voting whether or not somebody else should decide. Since we don’t know what they’ll decide, I’d rather have no voter ID than bad voter ID.

Here’s a video from MPR explaining exactly that. It struck me as incredibly biased toward anti-voter ID until I realized they didn’t say a word pro or con about voter ID itself. They’re merely explaining exactly what the amendment does and doesn’t do. That’s more than the campaign sites have done, so hats off to MPR.

So I say vote no on voter ID. If we’re going to have voter ID, let’s make sure we do it right. Let’s not force ourselves into it and possibly muck it up.

What do you think about voter ID? Have you ever had problems voting?


On Sunday the frozen state of Minnesota turned 150. It’s our sesquicentennial! I’m an old pro at this, having lived in Michigan during their 1987 sesquicentennial (which means I can pronounce sesquicentennial, but can’t spell it without help). Some have argued that nobody really cares about 150 years of statehood. But I say it is a big deal, especially if you let me learn for free.

That’s right, on June 1 you can visit all Minnesota Historical Society sites and museums as well as Minnesota State Parks free of charge. Now that’s a celebration I can support.

But seriously, it is kind of cool. It’s fun to explore local history and understand how things came to be. Of course it shouldn’t be a chance to whitewash history—not everyone is eager to celebrate the sesquicentennial. After all, there have been people in Minnesota for far longer than 150 years and we didn’t exactly ask politely if we could have their homeland. Plus we have the distinction of being the location of the largest mass execution in U.S. history (how’s that for a tourist slogan?). That execution, by the way, involved military tribunals of questionable fairness, was personally reviewed by Abraham Lincoln, and ultimately only 38 of 303 death sentences were carried out, thanks to Episcopal Bishop Henry Whipple’s pleas for leniency (go Episcopalians!). As hard as it is to read about these sad moments in our history, it’s encouraging to read about people like Whipple who stood up against racism and violence.

Sometimes history’s lessons are somber, but they’re still important.

On a less somber note, I am disappointed we don’t have better sesquicentennial swag. Where are the yo-yos?

Since this is my second sesquicentennial, I thought it might be interesting to move around and celebrate sesquicentennials as they come. If that sounds like fun to you, you better head to Oregon in 2009, Kansas in 2011, West Virginia in 2013 and Nevada in 2014. You could also celebrate centennials in New Mexico and Arizona in 2012, but that’s not as fun to say.