Thursday, April 16, 2009

Waiting for that midterm election...

So, Yes We Did, and all that. I'm jazzed. I really am. I've been super happy with Obama's actions as our chief executive so far. I don't even mind that he bowed to a foreign sovereign (in fact I don't really see what the big deal is). I feel really great that our eight year national nightmare is over.
However... for those of you who live in other parts of the country, it's springtime in America. For Minnesotans, we still have two years of our state nightmare left. Until 2010, we are still being lorded over by a man who I can only hope will go down in history nationally as a momentary hopeful, then forgotten, but state-wide as the single most obstructionist governor we've ever seen. Last year Tim Pawlenty vetoed a state record 34 bills - almost 8% of all vetoes issued by all MN governors since 1939. That's just one of his six years so far, and it looks like he's coming back with the same force this session. Last year, Democrats could only muster enough crossover votes to override one of them, and for that the six Republicans who did put the good of the state first to enact our first gas tax hike in 20 years were stripped of their committee assignments and (all but one) defeated handily in their suburban districts in November. Pawlenty just last year vetoed everything from a minimum wage hike to stem cell research to helping homeowners facing foreclosure to fixing our roads and bridges to a NON BINDING resolution calling for more openness with Cuba.
Here's my take: Pawlenty doesn't actually have the power to write and enact legislation, only to deny legislation from taking effect. Therefore, his ridiculous obstructionist pen is a study in the difference between doing nothing and doing something. He doesn't like what his options for action are, so he has denied any action from going forward. Meanwhile, the potholes are bigger and more plentiful (in my non-scientific study) than they have been in years, traffic and smog keep getting worse, more destitute people are slipping through the housing and healthcare cracks, and fewer bright young people can get an education simply because they are born into poor families. Guess what? Doing nothing is ALWAYS worse than doing something. While the cost of services and maintenance has continued to rise with the rest of the country, we have not been able to fund the programs we need to maintain service at the levels we in Minnesota are used to, just because our executive is under the thumb of local anti-tax interests and in the spotlight of national hype. I honestly hope T-Paw (even his nickname makes me want to beat my head against a wall) does run for national office in 2012, because it means he'd be ill-advised to run for Governor again in '10, on the likely chance he'd be defeated and rendered moot.
So, for all of you on the coasts, or in the Southwest, or even around the Midwest (cheers, Iowa), yes, I'm happy for you all. But please, send some positive, progressive vibes our way here in what used to be one of the bluest states in the union. And I believe we still are (we've gone Democrat in Presidential races longer than anyone else in recent history) - we've just been hijacked by the powerful marketing machine of the anti-tax lobby and forced down a bumpy, under-serviced road to neglect.

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