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Twin Town High (vol. 8)
What WE DEMAND from Our Next Congressperson
Thursday 06 April @ 13:38:51
by David Tilsen
With the retirement of long-time 5th District Congressmember Martin Sabo, the scramble to replace him has begun. The district, which encompasses all of Minneapolis, and parts of Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and some other suburbs, is considered a “safe” district. A safe district is one in which the incumbent always wins. In other words, whomever we elect this fall, we will be stuck with for a long time.
Whatever you think of electoral politics, in addition to everything else you
might do, your member of Congress is the person who is responsible for your
input in the governance of this country. I am of the opinion that my government
is not being run well. It is doing a lot of things it should not be doing, and
the things it should be doing, it is doing poorly or wrongly. This is not an
entirely new situation, but the U.S. is so powerful, and so arrogant that what
we are doing is destroying opportunities for peace, survival, healthy living
for the rest of the people and other living things on this planet.
The person I want to represent me needs to be willing to fight this. I do not
want an insider bureaucrat who will try to incrementally improve things. The
time has passed for soft words and budget tinkering. I want to send a warrior
to Washington. If there was ever a district with the opportunity to make a difference,
we are in it, and if there was ever a time to do something dramatic, this is
The things I would want our representative to do are:
that we close down the torture and concentration camps. Every person
held by our government should be either charged with a crime, and given the
opportunity to defend him/herself in a court of law, or released. For the entire
history of our country, this has been what we have called due process. The current
administration is defying the law by hiding prisoners around the world. There
is no doubt that they are being tortured and killed. I want a representative
that will never stop talking about this, and do everything that can be done
to put an end to it.
Stop the occupation and killing in Iraq. The stories of My
Lai type massacres are coming in almost daily. It is clear that the U.S. forces
are a cause of the internal strife, not a solution. If U.N. peacekeeping forces
are necessary, then lets make that happen, but I want MY representative to speak
out and MAKE IT STOP!
Reward courage and punish incompetence. The architects of this failed
strategy in Iraq have been given medals and promoted to more important positions.
Whistleblowers and truth tellers have been fired, had their family members targeted
with sanctions, and sometimes jailed or worse. This is no way to run a railroad,
much less the most powerful government on earth. The governors of this country
should be speaking out about that. The people who were responsible for the excessive
deaths after Katrina should face consequences.
Stop the graft, corruption and patronage. This administration,
more than any previous one has served as a conduit from my pocketbook to the
Swiss bank accounts of Republican cronies. The budgets of anti-abortion groups
have tripled with government largesse, the coffers of the Halliburtons, Exxons
and Saudi Princes that are longtime business associates of the people in power,
overflow with unprecedented and obscene profits. At the same time the poor in
this country and around the world suffer with poor or non-existent health care,
terrible working conditions and inadequate nutrition. This is being done with
our money and in our name. At the very I least want my representative to fight
Stop global warming and the destruction of the environment.
I don’t actually believe that the earth is in danger, just our ability
to live on it. There is no reputable scientist who does not insist that the
climate is changing, the ice caps are melting and that it is caused by the continued
burning of fossil fuels. As the producer of more than 40 percent of all the
industrial pollutants in the world, the U.S. should be taking the leadership
in solving this problem, not pulling up the rear and dragging its feet.
question becomes, how do we evaluate the candidates to determine who is most
likely to be the kind of congressman we want? We have been disappointed before.
We have elected people who talked a good game, but we’ve seen them burn
out and quit (Mark Dayton, Jim Abouresk), or become the enemy (Bill Clinton),
or become behind the scenes manipulators, doing good things, while being ineffectual
in making large changes or stopping major evil (Martin Sabo).
We have had a few good role models: including John Bernard, a representative
from Northern Minnesota who cast a lone vote against the Spanish Arms Embargo;
Paul Wellstone, who filibustered the energy bill because of its giveaways to
big oil; and a few others.
We need to look closely at the records of the current candidates, not just listen
to their current rhetoric. This is difficult. There is a lot of difference between
the kinds of issues that a congressional representative has to deal with compared
to a city councilmember, legislator or county commissioner. All we can do is
look at the issues they have confronted and seek indications of how they might
behave when put into the pressure cooker and corrupt environment in Washington,
D.C. Off the top of my head, some questions I might look at are:
How did candidates who were elected officials respond when the Police Federation
gave awards to officers that killed or beat up children and residents?
How did they respond to the unprecedented and excessive use of force during
Highway 55/Camp Coldwater struggle?
What have been their priorities for how they spend their time and the public
Do they support arresting homeless people for camping out when there is no other
place for them to sleep?
Has public health been a priority?
Do I really believe that we can predict what congressman will do from their
actions as local elected officials. Yes, I do. ||
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