Last night I attended a campaign fundraising event in Plymouth for Audrey Britton, the DFL candidate for the Plymouth-Medicine Lake district House seat. My first impressions of the facility were mind-blowing, the Plymouth Community Center complex. The whole facility and grounds are first class. In my wonderment of this beautiful complex, how did they get resident approval for such a community “Taj Mahal”? I live in Mounds View and we can’t even get a pot hole fixed without an angry gang of residents pouring into council chambers to complain about the $50 fix of that pot hole. Our residents would believe it is a waste of tax payers dollars. So, hats off to the city of Plymouth for selling your residents on the value of a first class facility, I’m envious! Anyway, I digress!

Governor Carlson made a very eloquent speech with regards to how a state budget and financial mechanism should work. Like Senator Dayton, Carlson was a state auditor before becoming Governor. I think being the state auditor is an excellent resume addition for a person seeking the office of Governor, it gives that person more insight and a better understanding of budgeting. As Carlson pointed out last night, the past eight years have been a disaster for the state of Minnesota. He inferred Governor Pawlenty’s interest from year one were on himself and advancing his own agenda and name for political reasons. For those of us that read and understand politics and governance, we knew this years ago. Obviously,we are on the progressive side so whenever Pawlenty was called out by someone from the Democratic party for how he is running the state into the ground, the criticism was always poo-pooed as political fire from the other side. Now, however, a former Republican Governor and state auditor has called Pawlenty out on his indiscretions as the state’s chief executive. The real question here is, where were the critics as Pawlenty was running the state into the ditch. I don’t recall any republican voices getting after Pawlenty for his failing administration and where was the media? Nowhere to be found. As Carlson pointed out, bad policy and personal advancement politics from the Governor’s mansion went untouched for eight years. So now that Pawlenty has destroyed what was once “the good life in Minnesota”, I think Governor Carlson’s prescription to fix things isn’t entirely on the mark, though I agree with much of what he remarked on. He believes a “hybrid” type of mixture of spending cuts, tax increases, and tax triggers along with long-term planning, 6 to 8 years out would be necessary. He doesn’t believe Senator Dayton’s plan the raise taxes on Minnesota’s wealthiest is viable, in fact called it dead on arrival. This is where Carlson is off base. Senator Dayton’s plan is for a fast infusion of revenues to relieve budgetary pressure in the immediate future, like maybe the $1.9 billion Pawlenty hijacked from education to balance the budget from the general fund. That money is owed education, and education is desperate for it. Because Senator Dayton has private sector hands on business experience and is a former state auditor, he does understand what it will take to straighten out the Pawlenty caused disaster. After spending 6 years in the U.S. Senate, Senator Dayton also has experience with the legislative side of government, making it easier for him to work with the state House and Senate.

Governor Carlson spoke of moderation and decency. He is exactly right about decency. The political extremes have taken control and the political discourse has crumbled to the flame thrown debris that’s remaining. If you are a regular reader of my commentaries, you will know that I do feel that governing from the extremes is not possible. Proper and sane governance in this country has to be done by discussion, compromise, and agreement. Firing away from the far right and the far left would make governance virtually impossible. Politics, however, are different. It is time for the left to stand up, grow some balls, and start firing away at the right. The right-wing has dominated or controlled the message in the country since the beginning of President Obama’s disastrous handling of health care reform on all fronts. The Democrats need to get a guy like Karl Rove or Lee Atwater to start taking right-wing politicians and their leader, Fox News, off at the knees. The democrats need to start calling out the republicans on their continuous spewing of lies and fear mongering. The right-wing has controlled the message for so long now, that even idiots like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have prominent voices in the American political scene! Before rational and sane governance can be performed, the players need to be on a level playing field and right now that field is severely tilted to the right!

Here is an example of how the message is controlled by the right. Last night, Candidate Audrey Britton made a point for the conservatives by acknowledging the right’s opinion the Democrats are fiscally irresponsible by remarking in almost disbelief that she is a Democrat that is fiscally responsible! My jaw almost hit the floor when she said that. Why not fortify their lies some more? The plain and simple fact is, going back to FDR, the Democrats in the White House have always shrunk the size of government and reduced deficits or grown surpluses. Not one republican President in that time period can make that claim. Let’s bring it to the state level. Minnesota was always a leader in the United States in all quality of life measurements under Governors Freeman, Rolvaag, Anderson, and Perpich. To a certain extent that extended to Arne Carlson’s terms as well, he being a republican but, socially progressive with an understanding of the big picture like his DFL predecessors. I think Audrey Britton will be a great legislator. Her style and attitude remind me of Hillary Clinton while in the U.S. Senate. Clinton was identified as one of the most focussed and hard-working Senators on the Hill. She understood the importance of debate, compromise, and agree just as I believe Audrey will in the Minnesota House.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, we had to endure the past 12 years under Governors with selfish and self-serving agendas while sacrificing and destroying the one time “good life in Minnesota”. Yes Governor Carlson, there is a majority of Minnesotans that carried that mantle of being the best quality of life state in the country. We got there initially by realizing we need a talented and educated population. Yes, there were tax increases back in the day that paid to carry the state to the top. By having the best educated and talented work force in the country, large companies relocated here to take advantage the work force and the excellent health care, great schools and colleges, the clean environment, and the clean, open, and fair politics of the state. That all changed in these past 12 years. By controlling the message, the right-wing has trained Minnesotans that education, health care, and other governmental services ARE NOT important any more. It’s now about how bad it was for traditional good and fair Minnesotans to try to make a good life for all of the residents and businesses in the state. Think about it! How insane is that? Well, that’s what they are conveying now. Simply ask yourself, was life in Minnesota better under Wendy Anderson or under Tim Pawlenty? I think you all know that answer.

In closing, my greatest disappointment from the gathering last night was that Governor Carlson, the number one Gopher fan in the state, didn’t comment on the crappy condition of the Gopher football program! Thanks for today’s read.
Cam Obert


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