There are two duelling narratives at work in the Minnesota gubernatorial election this year.
One of them is a huge, national narrative; the immense, perhaps unprecedented in 65-100 years, backlash against the currently-absolutely-ruling party. Conservatism is, by most rational accounts, about to deal a thrashing to liberalism that’ll make the 1994 election look like a flip of the Scott County Soil and Water district‘s power structure. Whatever it is. The point being, the “Narrative” is that the GOP wave rolls and breaks, sweeping away liberal politicians from coast to coast. The left fears the wave; when you have liberal Democrats backing and filling and trying to portray themselves as conservatives and telling a sitting president two years off the biggest electoral mandate in decades to “shove it“, and even the likes of Lori Sturdevant are filling their sandbags (didja know Larry Pogemiller has grown more conservative? Lori says so!), there’s a narrative out there. And of course, the counter-narrative, from the DFL and the media (pardon, as always, the redundancy, and it’ll be a joy to be done with this campaign if only so I can retire that particular phrase for the next 18 months or so), is that Minnesota is the state that always bucks that trend; we voted against Reagan in ’84! (for a native son, at a time when our GOP was indistinguishable from the DFL). The narrative says that conservatives, usually Republican, are going to win and win big.
The counternarrative, being pushed by the DFL and their BFFs in the regional media? The hope that they can manufacture some change in one of the DFL’s greatest frustrations; the Chicago-Cubs-like inability to win the big prize, the governor’s office. The DFL hasn’t had an elected governor in a generation, since 1986, when Rudy Perpich slouched into his last, ludicrous term (Jesse Ventura doesn’t count, even though he fronted the DFL-lite “Independence Party”, and his policy strings were pulled by “moderate” DFLers Tim Penny and Dean Barkley, and since he had no party representation in the Legislature he had to spend his entire term spooning with Roger Moe to get anything done, and essentially governed as an insane man who, paradoxically, was sane for a DFLer). The press’ desire for change in the governor’s office – for a DFLer, any DFLer, even an ersatz one like Tom Horner – is almost physically palpable. And it reminds one of the old parable of the frogs who wished for a king, and were sent a stork. Storks eat frogs, lest the irony escape you.
The media, for all their caterwauling about reporting what actually happens, loves narratives. It satisfies the human desire to bring order and pattern to chaos (not to mention putting their party in control, with an aim toward redistricting Michele Bachmann out of Congress, since those stupid voters keep refusing to do it for them).
Screw the narratives.
Minnesota needs not only a leader, but a leader whose goal and mission is to break with the bigger, longer, more debilitating narrative that’s driven this state for far, far too long – that Minnesota is a big-government, big-“service”, big expense state. It was a model that arguably worked a few decades ago, when our economy and our world were very, very different places that were a lot more forgiving of wholesale patronage and gross inefficiency. More on that in tomorrow’s installment of this series.
Minnesota needs a new narrative – one that we, The People, write as we go, through our own merits and drive and energy and determination. Not one written at 4225 Portland, or on Plato Boulevard, or on Times Square.
We can elect Mark Dayton, and keep on acting in someone else’s story – the same story we’ve lived through before. The same story that’s reaching its miserable denouement in California, and Massachusetts, and Illinois – leaving They, The People, broke and out of work and picked clean by the taxman.
Or you can write a new narrative – our narrative – starting on November 3, if Tom Emmer is elected.
I’m making my choice, of course.
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