B for Bernie. But seriously I had another thought in mind. In 2016, it was basically just Hillary and Bernie. That was plan A. We all know how that turned out, and many of us understand how rigged it was against Bernie. Even in court, the Democrats stated outright that they had no obligation to be fair which by itself is a huge indictment of the our two party system. Most Bernie supporters stuck with the democrats and voted for Hillary (who as you may recall was endorsed by Bernie). Bernie has been very clear about the fact that his goal is to bring young people and progressives to the democrat party. There is a questionable legitimacy in the assertion that the democrat party is becoming more progressive, but that will be seen soon enough.
I support Bernie and I contribute to his campaign because I like his messaging and the ideas he’s promoting. I also support Tulsi Gabbard for the same reason, even as I know she won’t win the nomination. Both parties just approved another $20 Billion pentagon budget increase which is about the only thing they all agree on. Nobody except Tulsi Gabbard is talking about the devastating financial and social cost of our endless wars. For Bernie it’s just a footnote.
Bernie’s running again in 2020 so that’s plan B. (plan A has already failed us). I’m also quite certain that Bernie will not get the nomination either, and Bernie supporters will do pretty much what they did in 2016. Elizabeth Warren is perhaps the best proof of that in the way she has taken all of Bernie’s ideas. I’m also quite certain we will not see Bernie Sanders again in 2024.
This is what will happen, in my opinion, after watching years of campaign strategies, and myself running as an independent candidate three times. We all like to believe that these candidates are running on some individual initiative but that’s not how it works. There is a party strategy and the winner is chosen by the party, not the people. Remember when Bernie was touting the progressive progress that came out of his campaign in the form of concessions to prohibit super delegate votes on the first round of balloting? The broad candidate field is going to split the delegate counts. There will not be a decision in the first round, and the super delegates will decide the nomination in the second or third round. There will also be intense intimidation of Bernie delegates as there was in 2016 and there will be delegate defections according to the demands of the party. Maybe there’s an outside chance that Biden or Buttigieg will beat Trump, but it’s not going to give us any progressive reforms.
I’d like to believe in your plan B and people will vote for independents, but honestly, there are relatively few independents running. The independent movement is growing but it is still very fragmented. Still, if one or two were elected, that would be progress. Perhaps the Green candidate in Maine might have the best opportunity. They have ranked choice voting.
There are many good reasons why we need a third party. Americans certainly believe it. The congressional approval rating rarely gets above 20 percent and 57% of Americans say a third major political party is needed . 46 percent of Americans identify as independent. Why then are all those independent voters still voting for one of the two major parties?
There are also a few reasons why third parties can’t succeed in our current electoral process. The political system is heavily biased toward the two major parties, and sustained by corporate wealth and media. Both parties cooperate to preserve their combined hold on power.
People aren’t really voting on policies any more, despite growing anxieties about liberalism, soaring costs in education and healthcare, inequality of wealth, stagnant wages, climate catastrophes, endless wars, and a flood of personal and national debt. But the threat of social and economic collapse, or even the environmental crisis, seems to pale in the two party political narrative. Republicans advance the odious threat of a nation overrun by foreign nationals and Democrats portend the total collapse of our very democracy, undermined by Russian interference and the erratic behavior of our current president. It’s a shallow threat in light of a 2014 study from Princeton University which concluded that America is an Oligarchy, not a republic and certainly not a democracy.
It all makes for good theater. In 1988, the League of Women voters withdrew from sponsorship of the presidential debates. According to League President Nancy M. Neuman, "It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public." Today’s democratic debates are hosted by CNN, carefully orchestrated to provide good viewing entertainment and guide voters toward the desired outcome. It is precisely the kind of charades League President Nancy M. Neuman was referring to back in 1988.
The political narrative is clear: third party candidates take votes away from the major candidates. Third party candidates spoil their elections. With the possible exception of Ralph Nader in 2000, there is little evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton blames Jill Stein for her loss to Donald Trump. Speculation assumes those voters would have voted for Hillary and conveniently ignores the fact that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received over three times as many votes as Jill Stein which may have drawn votes away from Donald Trump.
Now, Hillary Clinton is attacking Anti-war candidate Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian assest and setting up the same spoiler narrative she leveled against Jill Stein. But, Bloomberg news reports, “Don’t Worry About Tulsi Gabbard.” The spoiler narrative is a fear tactic intended to ensure voters remain loyal to one of the oligarchs duopoly.
Our elections are not arranged for the benefit of the people, but rather to serve the wealthy. Voters are disenfranchised, separated from a meaningful voice in our political process. Voter behavior is controlled by carefully crafted narratives, propaganda, and political marketing campaigns. All of that advertising makes running for office a cost prohibitive exercise for the vase majority of Americans.
Protests may give us a voice but it largely goes unheard. From the lessons of Standing Rock, we know if a protest interferes with the agenda of the ruling elite it will be put down by aggressive force. True activism disrupts the system in a manner that demands change. Power operates by attacking the disruptive voice; ask Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning. If you could, you might ask Jeffery Epstein what happens when you become a threat to the private lives of powerful politicians. We can continue to vote for the oligarchy, or we can demand an inclusive voice, and a true government of the people, by the people and for the people, something we have been fighting for since those words were first uttered by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg address back in 1863.
People want to choose their doctor.
A principle problem for Medicare for all is the fact that it follows in the shadow of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA expanded health care access by increasing tax payer funding: something people refer to as “throwing money at the problem.” There was no cost containment. Taxes increased, and costs continued to increase with a net migration of wealth from the middle class to the upper class. Millions did get improved health care access through medicaid, but the majority saw no benefit, and millions more saw steep rate increases. It is the inequity in the system that makes it untenable to voters. The current Medicare system is already a confusing range of options, supplemental plans, and Medicare advantage. The disadvantage of Medicare Advantage is once again the perplexing problem of choosing a suitable network of providers. The health care industrial complex will certainly game the system as they have done with Medicare Advantage, to the tune of of some $70 billion dollars from 2008 to 2013. Given the lack of meaningful oversight, transparency, and accountability, it’s not surprising that people are suspicious of Medicare for All.
People want to choose their doctor. They don’t want to navigate an incomprehensible maze of insurance options, hoping to find a network that includes their doctor. In the end, they still pay out-of-pocket for the the specialist who didn’t happen to be in the network. Creating confusion is a deliberate tactic that prevents the kind of consensus needed for meaningful healthcare reform.
Whenever I hear a presentation on the carbon fee/dividend plan, it comes off sounding like a plan that would provide a Universal Basic Income derived from oil revenues. It is after all a public resource and perhaps citizens should be getting some revenue from that resource much like the Alaska Permanent Fund derived from oil revenues. The fund has paid an annual dividend since 1982 that has been as high as $2,072 per person, or $8,288 for a family of four.
Still, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I started getting suspicious when I heard the big oil companies were supporting a carbon fee/dividend. The plan would add a fee to fossil fuels based on the CO2 equivalent emissions of fossil fuels. Consumers would pay higher costs on virtually everything because energy is a substantial cost of production for most products. The fee would then be distributed to each citizen offsetting the higher cost. Clearly, it’s not a dividend based on revenue like the Alaska plan. It’s more like a sales tax where the consumer gets a rebate at the end of the year. In theory, low wage earners would get a larger dividend than they pay in fees but I’ve yet to see any actual numbers that would substantiate that theory.
In global markets, the impact becomes much more complicated. Import fees would be imposed to encourage foreign producers to also implement the carbon fee and discourage companies from migrating to no fee regions. American consumers would still pay higher prices for those fees but there would be no dividend as the fees would remain in the country of origin. Oil exports would receive a rebate. That seems to incentivize exporting U.S. oil and allowing consumers to pay the higher cost for foreign oil.
All of this will presumably be balanced out by tariffs and trade agreements. Every product produced would essentially require a carbon fee adjustment in an environment where it may be difficult to determine if it was produced with fossil fuels. I can’t imagine the complexity of that.
The fee would affect the real cost of using fossil fuels and should create incentives for greater efficiency, alternative material sourcing, and renewable energy sources but it is not clear that these alternatives can match the economic growth demands of today’s economic models. That goes to the real problem of projected economic growth that exceeds the foreseeable capacity of the planet. That problem is not being addressed by a recirculating tax rebate plan.
That brings me to what’s in it for the corporate denizens of wealth. The plan they support which of course is the only plan our congress would possibly adopt was drafted by the Climate Leadership Council, that includes a long list of major oil producers like ExxonMobile and BP as well as many other large corporations like GM and Pepsico. Their proposal provides for a carbon tax in lieu of environmental regulations including EPA’s regulatory authority of CO2 emissions, repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and an end to federal and state tort liability for emitters.”
Here the theory goes, that market forces will eliminate the need for these regulations. In an environment of ever-increasing wealth inequality, with congress determining the market forces, I have a pretty clear idea of who the winners and losers will be.
UPDATED PER AMENDMENT -WEEK OF FERUARY 17, 2019
Minnesota Senate Bill SF 752,
Minnesota House Bill HF 708
(Ballot Access Inclusiveness Bill)
This proposal contains a comprehensive set of reforms to improve and modernize Minnesota's outdated statutory definitions of political parties. It encompasses revisions and modifications to arbitrary petitioning requirements, percentages, and timelines that as currently exist, create and sustain exclusivity to ballot access for the main two parties. Goals are to bring Minnesota's prohibitive standards in-line with neighboring states, to eliminate unconstitutional and inequitable restrictions, and to harmonize the various statutes while keeping robust system integrity and encouraging democratic participation. A formal request is hereby made for committee hearings to discuss these matters.
Section 1: Revises major political party threshold percent from 5% to 1%, for both direct petitioning and election results methods.(for reference WI, SD are at 1%, IA is at 2%).
Section 2: Modifies our system into recognition of two simple tiers of political parties versus the current three tiers. (to become major and minor only, like all other states).
Section 3: Allows petitions to be on common size 8-1⁄2x11 letter size paper(vs 8-1/2x14).
Section 4: Modifies oath on nominating petitions to allow signors to still participate in the major party primaries. (“I solemnly swear that I know the contents and purpose of this NOMINATING petition, that I do not intend to vote at the primary election for the office for which this nominating petition is made, and that I signed this petition of my own free will.”)
Section 5: Revises statute to allow signors to sign more than one nominating petition.
Section 6: Modifies the number of signatures required into ratios of flat numbers based on district size for state, county, and municipal races (400 for State Senate, 200 for State Rep, 200 for municipals, versus the current statutes set at 500 for all).
Section 7: Expands the days allowed to collect signatures from 14 to 88, by attaching the window to the general election vs the primary election (in alignment with the statutory window we have for Presidential electors). (WI gives 70 days, SD 112 days, IA 140 days).
Section 8: AMENDMENT IS FILED TO REMOVE THIS SECTION (to give a political party the ability to approve a candidate’s affiliation with it prior to filing for primary ballot).
Section 9: Addresses special election parameters. It adds 7 extra days for the SOS to conduct, adds 9 days to the (5 day)filing window, and reduces the number of nominating petition signatures required to half per the office sought.
Table 1. Petition signature requirements for major (recognized) party status
Table 2. Petition requirements and collection periods
Ironically the demise of the second wave feminist movement was the one piece of legislation fundamental to the concept of equality and basic human dignity, the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The National Woman’s Party had introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to every congress since 1923 until the feminist movement finally saw passage in the House in 1970 and the Senate in 1972.
The Republican Party included support of the ERA in its platform beginning in 1940, renewing the plank every four years until 1980. There was strong opposition in the democratic party from labor groups including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Nurses Association under the presumption that working class women needed government protection. Eugene McCarthy, leader of the Anti-war movement in the Democratic Party, was also chief author of the ERA.
Initially public support for the ERA was strong. Within a year after its passage in the Senate the ERA had been ratified by thirty states. Opposition to the ERA quickly organized around the protection of women. Phyllis Schlafly became the spokesperson for the Stop ERA movement emphasizing a threat to the security of middle-aged housewives. Organizers claimed women would lose their right to alimony and child custody.
Religious conservatives, Evangelical Christians, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, and Roman Catholics argued that the amendment would guarantee universal abortion rights, same sex marriage, and eliminate single-sex bathrooms. By 1977 only five additional states had ratified the amendment, three short of the required thirty-eight. By 1996 men had reasserted the “traditional marriage,” when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act.
Philp A. Randoph, founder of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC) initiated the March on Washington in 1963 where Martin Luther King gave his infamous I Have a Dream speech. Neither of these groups felt women should be included in the Civil Rights Act. Black Women argued that black families were heavily dependent on women’s income and discrimination against women would be damaging to black families. The cause of black women was largely responsible for the inclusion of sex and gender in Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964.
On the basis of Title VII, Women continued fighting for equity in the courts, fighting for custody, fighting for alimony, and ultimately fighting for their very lives against the threat of domestic violence. In 1970 only 13 percent of families were headed by a single parent. By 1996 that number had doubled with 84 percent of these families headed by women. Dissolving family values fueled a divorce industry that would grow to fifty billion dollars by 2005.
The African American civil rights movement was split between civil disobedience and Black Power. The feminist movement was divided between empowerment and protectionism.
Perhaps the most effective tactic of the ERA opposition movement threatened that women would lose their exemption from the draft. A new chapter in the ERA story began this week when U.S. District Court Judge Gray Miller declared that exempting women from registering for the draft violates the Constitution's equal protection principles. Attorney Marc Angelucci, representing the National Coalition for Men, says, "There really is no more excuse to only require men to register."
The #MeToo movement is demanding greater protection for women against sexual assault and domestic violence at the same time income and social inequality are expanding. How we define equals rights is a challenging discussion that is clearly taking on new dimensions.
You’ve heard a lot about Medicare Advantage packages, and now Minnesota’s Congressional Democrats are endorsing those corporate offerings. Naturally, any marketing put forward by the health care insurance industry is going to sound like an advantage, but there are significant factors about those packages which are not being disclosed.
Why is AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans) thanking 368 members of congress for supporting Medicare Advantage? All ten of Minnesota’s federal officials, both Senators and Congresspersons, signed a letter of support for AHIP supporting Medicare Advantage. This includes Angie Craig, Ilhan Omar, and Dean Philips, all of whom campaigned for progressive health care reform in 2018.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) admits that Medicare Advantage and Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs, which are owned and operated by the insurance corporations) programs are losing money—the funds America’s workers must pay into with each paycheck. MedPAC claims there’s no way to determine why those industry-managed programs are losing our tax money. But I know there is a way, and so do you! Government transparency and accountability! Our government keeps avoiding standards of transparency and accountability—it refuses to operate with normal integrity.
As a citizen, you are entitled to know why Medicare is losing money to Medicare Advantage and ACOs. That’s merely fair. It’s a normal expectation. But corporations are not playing fair; our government does not compel them to follow the law.
Research from the Center for Public Integrity finds that Medicare Advantage plans are clearly gaming the system. This happened to the tune of some $70 billion between 2008-2013 because the insurance industry inflated risk scores. Medicare pays the corporation which offers a Medicare Advantage plan a fixed amount for each individual enrolled. It pays through a tool called a “risk score.” The tool is supposed to pay Medicare Advantage plans higher rates for sicker patients and less for those in good health.
Senator Grassley of Iowa, raised concerns about the Medicare Advantage plans in a letter to The Honorable Seema Verma, Administrator for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Senator Grassley reported on a previous response from CMS. He indicated the “Obama Administration failed to mention to the Committee that its initial recovery assessment was $128 million rather than the $3.4 million actually recovered by the government from the five plans. The difference in the assessment and the actual recovery is striking and demands an explanation. Further, in light of the $70 billion in risk score overpayments between 2008-2013 reported by the Center for Public Integrity, CMS’s 2007 overpayment estimate of $128 million appears low and could very well be just the tip of the iceberg.”
The audits disclosing the $128 million in federal overpayments to health plans were part of a cache of confidential CMS documents released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Center for Public Integrity.
A lack of robust audits and the lack of recovery of overpayments appears to be a chronic problem on the part of our government. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the watchdog arm of Congress, found that CMS’s methodology for auditing insurance industry contracts with the federal government fails to select those which have the greatest potential for recovery of improper payments. GAO also found that CMS has spent about $117 million on Medicare Advantage audits, but recouped just under $14 million in total.
Quite clearly, CMS is not willing to take on the big offenders. By a similar token, our Congress avoids conflicts with those offenders who pad their campaign coffers. Moreover, 368 Congresspersons signed a letter praising the offenders for their offerings. Don’t expect any meaningful health care reform from Minnesota’s bipartisan delegation any time soon!
I am running for U.S. Senate against Amy Klobuchar. I am positioned against her according to the three fastest rising costs in America today…war, health care, and education. We can reduce spending on endless wars, nearly 2/3 of our budget, and invest in health care reform and education… for the future strength of our economy.
Like a majority of voters, I believe that we need a strong third party movement to address the polarization and gridlock in our two party system.
It’s less about Paula and more about our election process and the enormous influence of money in politics.
It’s very difficult for 3rd parties to engage the public and challenge the messaging of marketing campaigns from the major parties.
Paula isn't even listed in the Star Tribune voter guide. Minnesota Public Radio would not include Paula in their state fair debate between Amy Klobuchar and Jim Neuberger.
Paula was at the state fair all 12 days talking to voters and never once heard from the media.
MinnPost published an interview with Angie Craig where she states that Paula was the reason she lost in 2016…
We refute that claim. We’ve looked at the data too.
We know that Paula's vote comes from disenfranchised voters from both sides of the isle. We shared that response with MinnPost
Minnpost refused to print our response. They continue to support the spoiler narrative, ignoring the fact that Independent voters have no voice in the political discussion.
I’d like to say to anyone who has never voted or perhaps given up on voting.
This campaign is a unique opportunity
I’m asking people to come out an voted on November 6th
I want people to know that 5% is a victory, a real path to real reform.
And that’s what we need!
It is said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I remember!
In the 1960s the Nashua River was starved of oxygen, biologically dead, and one of the ten most polluted rivers in the United States. The sludge-filled river, which flows through New Hampshire and Massachusetts, was a different color every day, depending on what was discharged that day. (Moyer 2014). I lived in Nashua in 1968 and I remember the condition of this river.
I remember Love Canal, one of the most infamous toxic waste sites, still seeping toxins 35 years later. (Associated Press 2013). I remember when the EPA Superfund was established in 1980. There are currently 1,317 Superfund sites across the U.S. including multiple sites in Minnesota(Johnson 2017) There are 21 sites that Environmental Protection Agency regulators have targeted “for immediate and intense attention.” including an abandoned copper mine in Nevada (Brady 2017)
This long-term impact results from a lack of regulation and a willingness to borrow from the future to satisfy short-term productivity. The raucous calls for deregulation express a desire to return to this model of environmental exploitation and borrow from the future of our children and our children’s children. Drilling leases, pipelines, burning coal, even killing wolves are examples of this desire to exploit the environment for personal gain and short-term goals. In Minnesota, sulfide mining is one of those critical environmental concerns.
The Twin Metals proposal, recently revived by Washington, is projecting 5.8 billion tons of copper over a thirty-year time frame, equal to 190 million tons annually. (Johnson 2017). The PolyMet proposal originally projected 69.4 million tons per annum (PolyMet Mining) but they have also suggested that would rise to 118 million tons per annum over a twenty-year time frame. (Marcotty 2018). According to the International Copper Study Group, the Global production of copper in 2017 was 19.4 million tons. ( International Copper Study Group, 2017). The two copper mining projects combined are projecting a 15 fold increase in copper production. That would certainly depress copper prices substantially in the near term until the demand for copper catches up with production. That should be a concern for investors but if the companies go bankrupt, it’s a major concern for taxpayers as well. The numbers don’t add up.
The proposal is offering rapid economic expansion over a very brief period of twenty or thirty years, while likely suppressing the ongoing economic development in other sectors of the economy. The economic consequences would be similar to what happened when the iron ore market collapsed. That alone would make it untenable as a long-term regional development plan.
The more salient issue, however, continues to be the environmental impact. Certainly, no one is suggesting draining sulfuric acid directly into the watershed. According to the reports, modern sulfide mining is 100% safe but translating engineering designs into actual production is rarely 100%. Unanticipated events and failures do occur. The Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia illustrates the potential and the disastrous consequences. Neither company, Twin Metals nor PolMet, has any safety track record for sulfide mining. (Kohls 2018)
What’s required, is a comprehensive policy based on long-term strategies. The economy of Minnesota’s Arrowhead region has evolved and diversified since iron ore mining diminished in the 1980’s. Any potential for short-term economic gains threatens more diversified and sustainable economic developments. This area is rich in resources for the development of renewable and sustainable initiatives in energy and agriculture. Combined with the potential for long-term environmental impact and the risk of economic failure, there is no justification to proceed with any existing sulfide mining proposal. I am categorically opposed to the PolyMet land swap proposal and sulfide mining in Minnesota.
Associated Press, November 2, 2013 | 11:03pm “Love Canal’ still oozing poison 35 years later” New York Post, Metro. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://nypost.com/2013/11/02/love-canal-still-oozing-poison-35-years-later/.
Brady Dennis, December 8, 2017 “EPA lists 21 toxic Superfund sites that need ‘immediate and intense’ cleanup” Washington Post, Energy and Environment. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://nypost.com/2013/11/02/love-canal-still-oozing-poison-35-years-later/.
International Copper Study Group, 2017 Retrieved August 30, 2018, from http://www.icsg.org/index.php/component/jdownloads/finish/165/871.
Johnson, David Updated: March 22, 2017 3:33 PM ET “Do You Live Near Toxic Waste? See 1,317 of the Most Polluted Spots in the U.S.” Time, Health. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from http://time.com/4695109/superfund-sites-toxic-waste-locations/.
Kohls, Dr. Gary G. Global Research, February 22, 2018, “British Columbia’s Mount Polley Copper Mining Disaster of 2014” Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://www.globalresearch.ca/british-columbias-mount-polley-copper-mining-disaster-of-2014/5629028
Marcotty, Josephine, June 8, 2018 — 10:23pm “Prospect of larger PolyMet mine sparks demand for more review”, Star Tribune, Local, Retrieved August 30, 2018, from http://www.startribune.com/prospect-of-larger-polymet-mine-sparks-demand-for-more-review/485009481/.
Moyer, Ellen, Ph.D. 07/07/2014 12:46 pm “How a Housewife Transformed an Open Sewer into a Swimmable River” Huffpost, Blog. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-moyer-phd/nashua-river-transformed-_b_5552680.html.
Myers, John, December 22, 2017 at 4:09 pm “White House resurrects proposed Twin Metals mine near BWCA ”, Pioneer Press, News, Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://www.twincities.com/2017/12/22/feds-keep-proposed-twin-metals-minnesota-copper-mine-plan-alive/.
PolyMet Mining > NorthMet Project > NorthMet at a Glance, “PolyMet NorthMet Project at a Glance” Retrieved August 30, 2018, from http://polymetmining.com/northmet-project/overview/
In memory of Thurman Blevins
It has been reported that I am the first openly Transgender woman to run for the U.S. House of Representatives back in 2014. I am the first openly transgender woman in the state of Minnesota to be endorsed by a major party. This weekend I marched in the Minneapolis Pride Parade in celebration of the LGBTQ community. I am proud of the progress we have made. Yet, I remain conflicted about the enormousness separation of wealth and privilege that continues to plague our society. I can readily reflect on my own experiences of isolation, threats, prejudice, and persecution from police and the courts. I do so, not to compare my own experience with that of other marginalized communities but to emphasize a need to understand the cause of individual communities: to understand the intersection and find common purpose.
There is a hazard in trying to build coalition by erasing individual identities for the appearance of common purpose. That is the fallacy of nation-building: assimilating communities and deciding who shall be part of the protected community and who represents a disadvantage or threat to that community. The LGBTQ community struggles with the same gender equity issues that plague our society at large. The issues of the gay men are not the same for the lesbian community and neither is the same for the transgender community which intersects both genders. The issues of sexuality are not the same as the issues of gender.
It is equally hazardous to erase the individual struggles of other marginalized communities under the banner of People of Color. The issues of Mexican border immigration are not the same for descendants of the Atlantic slave trade. They are not the same for immigrants and war refugees of other nations torn by American imperialism. They are not the same for Jewish populations conflicted by a government that supports both Zionism and anti-antisemitism. They are not the same for Muslim populations persecuted primarily for their religious beliefs. This list is not exhaustive. It is only the communities where I have had significant engagement.
So I return to the issue of common purpose. I ran my first campaign in 2014 on the heels of the historic Minnesota Vote No campaign: the struggle for same-sex marriage. Even as I worked hard for it and celebrated its passage, I remained conflicted about the true significance of a reform that granted a great privilege to some but failed to address the enormous injustice of a government ordinance over family values. At the time of the marriage debate, I myself was engaged in a struggle with the family court to protect the rights of my son to be with a transgender parent. I am fully cognizant of the abuses of our foster care system, foreign adoptions, and the separation of indigenous families and immigrants at our southern border. I am fully aware of the abuses of the Violence Against Women Act, claiming to protect women while failing to protect the most vulnerable, fully protect the rights of children, and address the fundamental causes of sexual violence and domestic abuse. We have empowered, police, prosecutors, judges, and lawyers; even ICE, the DEA, and border patrol, but we have not empowered the people who are supposedly served by these institutions. As a nation, we have given up our humanity in favor of the rule of law. We have forgotten who makes the laws and how indiscriminately those laws are enforced. That issue of indiscriminate enforcement is exactly why “All Lives Matter” is an irrelevant retort to the issue of “Black Lives Matter”. Without equal protection under the law, there is no law. Without proper review of the law, there is no order. Therein lies the common purpose of all marginalized communities. It is meaningless to have equal rights if we do not have equal protection under the law and the institutions that enforce the law.
Police have become the focus for the failures of our criminal justice system. Police are on the front lines, enforcing that system of racial and ethnic disparity. They do have a role to play in addressing the bias within their own community and ensuring their own integrity. They can not be held blameless by any measure of quality for the services they do provide. Still, they are only the face of a much deeper issue.
On Saturday, I was in Winona to speak at a protest against the separation of children from their families at the Mexican border. There is no justification for this blatant display of inhumanity. We are a nation of immigrants and many of our ancestors came here for the same reasons: to escape war, persecution, and famine. The cause of this immigration can easily be traced to American drug enforcement policies and the global inequality of wealth. It is again reflective of a governing class that seeks wealth and power over social accountability. It is not an issue of law; it is a failure of leadership.
In the evening of Saturday, June 23rd, 2018, I received reports of another police shooting of a young black man in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thirty-year-old Thurman Blevins was shot and killed by Minneapolis police. Whatever “the law” decides, there is absolutely no justification for this blatant display of inhumanity. Sunday morning I am at the staging area for the Pride parade. The parade is delayed for over an hour because of a protest against police brutality. I reflect on the first pride parade nearly 40 years ago with 50 people, half of whom marched and the other half who remained behind to support the marchers and bail them out of jail. I am reminded that Pride originated as a protest against police brutality and I am recognizing what it has become: a corporate sponsored celebration of individual expression. I am realizing how little we have impacted the systemic systems of oppression and wealth inequality.
After the Pride Parade, at 4 PM, I am at the Minneapolis fourth Police precinct examining just how little progress we’ve made on major social justice issues. At 7 PM, I am at the vigil in North Minneapolis where the shooting occurred. I cannot begin to relate to you the depth of human emotion surrounding family and friends and community brought together by such an event: the anger, the emotional pain, and the fear.
There are many politicians there. I have heard the promises they have made to this community. I understand the lack of credibility. The solutions exist. The cost of mass incarceration far exceeds the cost of early intervention and prevention. When police exist primarily to enforce criminal prosecution, they have no role in social intervention and reform. We need entirely new agencies to deal with public health issues of poverty, mental health, drug addition and issues which are not considered victimless: domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence, and gun violence. What is lacking is the will to implement them. It is evidenced in the promise that they will fix the problem once they are elected. It is a promise this community has heard too many times.
It is a fundamental fallacy, that one must win in order to create change. For the people, we must find common purpose and change the political dialogue. That’s how we win. I am proud to stand against the establishment of wealth and power. I am proud to see myself as a member of all marginalized communities, even as we have yet to realize our common purpose and stand together for a shared vision of liberty and justice for all.