Right now, three-fourths of state governments in this great nation of ours are controlled by a single political party. Almost half are Republican controlled, and a quarter are Democratic.
While I like our present situation in Minnesota, this is still a disturbing trend. It is another prime example of the pervasive, excessive influence of money on our politics.
Thinly disguised, often evasive, loophole-utilizing efforts have been and are going on across the country to gain state and even local partisan government control. It is another huge negative caused by the taint of money on our political process.
Prior to 2010, an aggressive Republican state chair in Alabama had a master plan for a complete Republican takeover in his state. However, he concluded that his state party was short of enough money to implement his grand plan.
Further, he was constrained by Alabama law, which did not permit free-flowing corporate money ala “Citizens United.”
So he went to Washington, D.C., New York and other places and generated a flow of corporate donations and less identifiable PAC donations to assist in financing, and he was successful in doing so.
More than a million dollars followed him home, and Alabama became all Republican for the first time since reconstruction days.
As a hard-core Democrat, I’m content to live in one of the 25 percent of states that presently has both a DFL governor and DFL majority legislative bodies. It is welcome relief after the eight years of Pawlenty, and a few years of an aggressive partisan Republican House.
The pendulum seldom stops, and we need a few more years of leftward swing just to undo the damage of Pawlenty.
Gov. Dayton and our House and Senate leaders, Paul Thissen and Tom Bakk, are usually circumspect and quite cognizant that our majority status is subject to review every two years.
Government works best when the respective parties can express and enact their positions, but leave substantial room for the other parties’ input and involvement.
Government works best when a working majority acts responsibly, always cognizant of days that will come, a time when another election makes them a minority. A good working democratic government usually has a substantial loyal opposition.
After a century of largely Republican state government in Minnesota, and a couple decades of mixed representation, the DFL gained its first complete dominant status in 1972. Unfortunately we did not live well with that success.
Over-extension of the new-found level of power and intra-party quibbling and in-fighting caused reversal and a Republican return to power just six years later.
To their collective credit, Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL Legislature have moved more cautiously in the past two years. They have brought about needed change incrementally, and have made a strong case for continuation. May it be so.
On a related matter of outside money negatively affecting our political process, let me update and react as follows:
Contrary to last week’s assertions of my conservative cohort, I neither discount nor condone big money liberal spending in geographically distant elections. However, it is now reported that David Koch, the more identified of the Koch brothers, and their phony money passing entity have since last October expended a total of $23 million in negative TV attack ads against incumbent Democrats in Congress.
In Nolan’s case, they are falsely blaming him for a law that was enacted before he was elected. If any big money liberal starts spending huge sums of money in unfair negative attack ads against any Republican congressperson halfway across our continent, I won’t like it and won’t think that is fair, either.
I also hope, if and when it happens, that it backfires, just as I hope the Koch attack ads against Rick Nolan will backfire this year.
I totally agree with a recent report of the Minnesota League of Women Voters on electioneering and disclosure: “The influence of money in politics represents a dangerous threat to the health of our democracy in Minnesota and nationally.”