Tag Archives: Don Fraser

Partisan Political Attacks Create Angst and Apathy (in me)

I’ve noticed myself ignoring my unread item notices on Google Reader regularly recently.  I follow 14 blogs, most of them overtly political, the rest of them vaguely political, and all of them local.  Not only am I ignoring the unread notices on a regular basis, when I do decide to clean it up, I hardly read them, I just clear the unread notice.

I’m not sure if it is the current political subject matter that bores me, or if my recent political run has just jaded my outlook.  I do feel a little depressed based on the news.  Right now, you have the Chamber of Commerce in alliance with The Republican Party together attacking workers in what I see as a divide and conquer manner.  There is no chance that the assault on unions here in MN or WI is budget related or freedom related.  It is purely and simply politically motivated. 

The goal in the Republican ideology is to prevent unions from influencing elections.  But instead of passing laws to stop the influx of money influence in elections that might come from Unions, which by the way was dwarfed by the Chamber of Commerce, Republicans have decided to destroy unions with phony “right to work” laws designed specifically to bankrupt unions and constant blame for everything from lazy workers to them being “cause” or at least scapegoat for budget deficits.  But labor is not the issue, and it will not solve budget problems.  These “solutions” simply weaken workers and thus, to the delight of the Republican Party, it will eventually weaken a strong funding mechanism for progressive politics.

Side Note: Notice I said “progressive” and not Democratic politics.  Despite the demonization of the word progressive by Republicans, maybe I should say by Glenn Beck, the word progressive in politics is simply a word that labels a group that supports an agenda of political action to fix the problems plaguing our country.  Republicans were called progressives at one time, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Cumming, Robert La Follette, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and his dissenting partner Justice Louis Brandeis, even Abe Lincoln was a progressive in action, if not by label.  But Democrats started out-progressing Republicans under Woodrow Wilson and later under Franklin Roosevelt.  As political parties are want-to-do, the Republicans couldn’t just agree, they had to counter and become more conservative.  If nothing else, grasp at straws to destroy.  Unions will support whoever supports workers, today and for three-quarters of a century is has been the Democrats who have been progressive on labor issues.

The problem is that we could solve everything without destroying the rights of workers and save a ton of money in society by passing election laws that limit election spending and create publicly financed elections.  How many millions of dollars could be saved and invested in a businesses and workers if as a state we weren’t spending many millions of dollars on lobbying and commercials to influence politics.

How much time would be saved in our legislature if legislators could just go ahead and vote with their conscience instead of based on their reelection campaign funding or based on the support they pledged to get an endorsement?  And how much better would our state be if legislators were beholden to all of their constituents instead of only their financial supporters?  How many more people would feel good about voting if they felt they had a voice instead of the feeling that the biggest spenders have control?

Maybe that sounds a bit jaded, but I am tired of what’s happening now and I’m tired of the snarky remarks and blame being tossed around, when the system is what is flawed.  I was recently the subject of a “comment lecture” on Facebook blaming Democrats for something Republicans were equally responsible for, if not more responsible for.  The partisan rancor is absurd, and at a point that drives the average person away from the political process, creating even more extreme ideas and extremist control in each party.  I specifically got involved in the DFL Party because of that.  And despite my growing angst about the rhetoric, I keep moving deeper in to the process.

I started this rant by mentioning blogs.  I did have a point.  The blog post I enjoyed reading the most recently had nothing to do with politics.  It was called Insecure About Money by Joey White at the blog Wide White.  It isn’t some major piece of great writing, but it is a subject I completely identify with.  I think that is what so many bloggers are missing right now, personal identification.  Popular blogs are filled with crazy and shrill remarks to draw readers.  A blog shouldn’t be a popularity contest or a ego builder, it should be honest opinions.  I don’t write about a DFL political agenda, although sometimes I think I should.  I write about what interests me and what are truly my opinions.

Joey and I have differing views on a lot of political issues, probably most issues, but he and I are very similar when it comes to partisan politics.  Using a quote Joey made on a blog post of mine he said “I realize partisan politics is really the only option in America, I just hate it.”  That’s why even despite our differences, I like his blog, he is honest and I respect him for his honest conviction and opinions.  I’m not sure I always get that from the extremists on either side.

I know what my right-wing attackers are thinking.  On my blog I attack Tim Pawlenty and John Kline regularly, as well as “Republicans!” in general.  But that is because I see so much hypocritical Republican Party politics in them.  Party agenda first, constituents second.  I respect Republicans who have honest beliefs that jive with the party.  I don’t have a problem with the conservative agenda if that is what you believe in, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it, but I believe you have a right to work toward and think that way, just like I have the right and deserve the respect for my beliefs.  It is that partisan rhetoric and attack that needs to stop.  We need to be honest and respectful, and we need to stop thinking one side is always right and one side is always wrong.  There is a middle ground and there can be compromise.  There are adequate solutions that will make the state, nation and world a better place, that do not rely on one single political outcome.

I got to interview former congressman, Minneapolis mayor and state legislator Don Fraser for a project I am going to work on, and the thing I really liked was his discussion on political parties in the state.  He said state legislators were not aligned with parties until recently.  Just like city council races, all races were nonpartisan elections.  He felt that was a good thing because there were bills that two people would be on complete opposite sides of an issue, and in debate on the next bill be strong allies.  That can’t happen now.  Partisan politics prevents it.  Look at the override 6 here in Minnesota, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Orin Hatch and the term RINO in general.

I think I’ve rambled long enough here, and I fear my blog is reaching the end of its usefulness.  I find myself becoming more cynical about politics and more cynical about the extremist actions of many politicians today, especially those aligned with the Chamber of Commerce.  I find it harder to pay attention, and am less willing to, even when it is a person I support.  I strongly believe in the ideals of inclusiveness, equality and justice, and the DFL fits with where I am right now, I’m just not sure this is the best avenue for my work, the problem is based on my short time experience with the State DFL Central Committee, I’m not sure the DFL is either.  I guess local is the way to go.

That may be my longest post ever, and if you got this far, I think I am sorry…

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Political Pin Collecting and Don Fraser

I began collecting pins when I was a little kid.  At some point during my teen years I decided to dispose of most of the collection, but I kept all the political buttons.  Many of the political buttons where my mother’s pins that she gave me from her teens and early 20s, Kennedy, Humphrey, McCarthy, McGovern, Nixon and Carter.  From my teens through  today, I continue collecting political pins, amassing a collection that includes every president and most major candidates from Hoover to Obama. 

But just like my interest in politics, my favorite pins are pins for local state and city candidates. Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale senate pins, various governor pins, Joan Growe, Paul Wellstone, George Latimer, Mark Dayton, Tony Bouza, I could go on.

And it is not just because they are local that I like them, it is because I have a personal story that goes along with a lot of those pins.  I have more Barry Goldwater and George McGovern pins than any other candidate except for Hubert Humphrey, but none of them are mine.  It is a pin like the Mark Dayton pin handed to me by Mark Dayton at the 1982 Sherburne County Fair Parade that is special.  As he was walking by I told him my mom was going to vote for him, and he stopped and shook my hand.  The pins of candidates that I have a connection with are what I like.

My earliest political memory is a vague recollection of the attempted assassination of President Ford, but more detailed early memories are of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Don Fraser, and Ted Kennedy.  Don Fraser is in the middle of a pretty important group.  I began thinking about the former politician again when he endorsed Paul Thissen for Governor a couple weeks ago.  I thought for a moment and realized I didn’t think I had any political buttons of Don Fraser’s.  I brought the large box full of buttons upstairs and verified that there was nothing.

Not only do I have nothing when it comes to pins, I had a hard time finding very much information about Don Fraser on the web.  There are a few recent news stories, and a recent youtube video interview with him, but he retired just before the internet boom.  The Minnesota Historical Society has a few things, as does the Hennepin County Historical Society, but there does not seem to be a ton of documents out there. 

Yesterday I did two things.  First I contacted a political memorabilia collector who specializes in local Minnesota pieces asking if he had anything affordable regarding Fraser’s runs for Congress, his run for Senate or his runs for mayor.  Second, I began reading Arvonne Fraser’s book She’s No Lady, the memoir of her life.  Don Fraser is Arvonne Fraser’s husband.

Maybe I can glean a few things from her book and maybe do a little research on my own to publish a little something here on MNDem that reflects the memories that place him among the early important political figures in my life. If nothing else, when another person is looking for a little interesting information about Don Fraser on the web, maybe there will be something there.  Check back.

Mayor Don Fraser endorsees Paul Thissen as the best candidate for governor

I lived in a house on 46th and Xerxes growing up.  Xerxes was a fairly busy street, so political signs were a regular lawn ornament on our block during election seasons.  The first political sign I remember was a red, white and blue Don Fraser for Mayor sign.  I think it might have even had the city skyline on it.  It was in our yard, and I thought it was pretty cool.

I’ve always had an affinity for Don Fraser.  He along with Hubert Humphrey comprise many of my earliest fond memories of politicians.

Yesterday, I received an email from Don Fraser sent via the Thissen campaign.

Don Fraser: Thissen Best Choice for MN

Dear DFLer,

Irresponsible leadership in the Governor’s office is costing our state dearly.  . We must reverse the ill-advised moves of the current Republican administration, including its conspicuous efforts to shift tax burdens away from the well-to-do, and onto the rest of us.

The stakes in this election are high and the challenges daunting. I believe that Paul Thissen is the candidate who gives us our best chance of restoring progressive leadership to the governor’s office.

Other candidates began this campaign with stronger name recognition, but as election day draws near, voters make their own assessments. They take the measure of the candidates and what they will bring to the office they seek.

A close look at Paul Thissen tells us what the voters will see as the campaign for governor proceeds.  Paul’s forebearers homesteaded in western Minnesota.  His parents taught in the Richfield and St. Paul public schools. He grew up in Bloomington, excelled at school, graduated from Harvard and went on to study law at the University of Chicago.  After law school, he and Karen moved back to Minnesota where they are raising their three kids who attend public schools.

Paul served as a state public defender and then built a successful legal career at a Minneapolis law firm, where he also chaired the pro bono committee that provides free legal services to nonprofits across the state, and to low-income Minnesotans.

Eight years ago, he knocked on every door in his legislative district, campaigned by listening to what people had to say, and won.  As chair of the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee, he has been a leader in addressing health care needs in Minnesota.

Paul Thissen is a fresh face that will breathe new life into the campaign.  He is convinced that hard work is the only way to win elections, and listening is the only way to govern effectively.

I believe that as Paul Thissen becomes known, he represents our best chance to put Minnesota back on the road as a leading state in our nation. As Democrats, we need to learn the lessons of our past losses in the governor’s race.  The old model of name recognition and politics as usual will not work.  We need a fresh face and new ideas if we want to win in November.

Paul Thissen is the candidate who can defeat the Republicans and take back the corner office at the Capitol for the DFL.   Check him out at www.paulthissen.com.

Thank you,

Don Fraser
Former 5th Congressional District Representative
Former Mayor of Minneapolis

Don Fraser served in the U.S. Congress representing Minnesota’s 5th District from 1963 until 1979.  He gave up his seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1978. He then became the longest serving mayor in Minneapolis history, serving from 1980 until 1993.

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