Between Friday and Monday, an interesting set of conversations took place that all seemed to coalesce into what I can only recognize as personal disgust with the current state of politics.
On Friday night, at the Senate District 36 DFL picnic in Lakeville, we were fortunate to have Franni Franken visiting our picnic and engaging with people in our group. One of the stories she told, which I heard second hand, was that she and Senator Franken routinely have dinner with another Washington couple, who – get this (whispering) are Republicans… I know, can you believe that?!?
At that same picnic, the account of one bad incident at the Lakeville Pan-O-Prog parade was also discussed. The story was that as I was walking in the parade and introducing myself as a Candidate for State Senate. I was approaching a group of about six kids between the ages of 8-12. They asked me if I had any stickers. I told them I didn’t but I could give them a high five, and I jogged toward the line of kids with raised hands for a high five. Just as I was about to give a high five to a boy, a woman, I assume his mother, stood up so quickly her lawn chair fell down backwards and yanked him with enough force backwards by the shirt that she had to catch him so he didn’t fall on his butt. Of course I don’t know exactly why she didn’t want me to give him a high five, but I can only assume she didn’t want him touching a Democrat.
Finally, the third conversation happened at a Monday morning Bible study I go to. We don’t spend all our time discussing biblical scholarly work, there is a bit of social engagement within the group. We started talking about the State Fair, and the milk booth came up, and the cost of the milk. From free, to a nickel, to a dollar, depending on age and memory. I brought up Rudy Boschwitz’s flavored milk booth. I remember it being a quarter, and I remember several flavors, although root beer was the best. And what I remember most vividly about that booth was being there with my Grandma Quist one year while she dug in her purse looking for more quarters.
None of those stories have anything to do with each other, but all three together represent the serious problems we face politically. And as I sat in traffic this morning on my way to work, I connected the three stories. There are big groups of people that can’t separate a person and their political beliefs. Al Franken and the Republican Senator he shares a monthly dinner with can do it. My Grandma an ardent Democrat could buy milk from Rudy Boschwitz. But that mom would rather give her child whiplash than risk the possibility of Democratic cooties infecting her son. And that woman at the Lakeville parade wasn’t the only one, there was the man who slapped my friends arm who was reaching out a sticker to see if anybody wanted one, and the boos and vulgarity from people who didn’t know me in the least bit other than that the three letters DFL were associated with my name.
This uber-partisanship is preventing work from getting done, deals from being made, the economy from improving, and preventing our communities from becoming better communities. It needs to end. These divisive political figures need to be rebuked for the damage they are causing. But the only way that will happen is if moderates who are turned off by all of this partisan politics all of the sudden become active. Not likely… (Sigh)