“The DFL Has Always Been The Rural Party, Winston”

What best sums up rural/urban American relations?

To me, it’s the Thomas Franks book What’s the Matter with Kansas?.    The de facto subtitle was “why do Rural Americans vote against (I’m gonna add a little emphasis here) their best interests?”

Can you think of a more arrogant bit of preening than telling someone you don’t know and whose live you haven’t – can’t! – live, what their “best interests” are?

It lives on today, of course; Democrat candidate Jeff Erdmann wrote about his time working with the Angie Craig campaign:

[Erdmann] was phone banking and asked a supervisor what message he should tailor to the rural part of the district, since the script seemed aimed at city dwellers. “Just tell them the trailer-court story, they’re not big thinkers out there,” he said he was told, referring to Craig’s childhood in a trailer home.

But when rural Americans are asked why they don’t “vote for their best interests” for “progressives”, for some reason the obvious response – “you mean “best interests” like out of control crime, society organizing itself into demographic donuts of immense wealth surrounded by misery, exquisitely expensive but utterly wretched public education, intrusive bureaucracies and regulation, and a one-party system run by a political class that holds in sneering contempt everything I believe in?  Those “best interests?”

Somehow that response never makes it in the paper.

Which brings us to Dave Mindeman.

Mindeman – DFL activist and the proprietor of the “MNpACT” blog who is, if memory serves, not a rural farmer or businessman, but a retired pharmacist from the south metro, has a piece in the MinnPost (anyone remember the MinnPost?  I still get them mixed up with the Minnesota Monitor), entitled “Democrats are the real champions of rural Minnesota”.

And it’s tempting to say that he shoots his entire premise in the foot right out of the gate:

Democrats are always on the defensive when it comes to rural or outstate Minnesota. And I fail to see why that should be.

There is this misperception that Democrats only represent urban Minnesota. And granted, since the bulk of the population are city dwellers, it is only natural to devise programs that fit that large chunk of Minnesota residents. A lot of Democrats represent that urban population and need to pay attention to it.

And that they do, pushing policies statewide that cuddle up to the DFL’s MInneapolis and Saint Paul shot-callers.   So while Mindeman is correct in saying…:

But Democrats who have represented more rural areas have nothing to feel bad about.

…that’s because those rural Democrats have either adapted to their surroundings (see:  the Iron Rangers’ pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment stance) or, as with most DFLers outside 494/694 and the Arrowhead, or been retired from politics at the ballot box.

But once you get past the thesis, where’s the free-range beef?

I would venture to say that Democrats have done more for rural Minnesota than the Minnesota Republicans have ever accomplished. Look at the record on the issues close to greater Minnesota.

Broadband. Each legislative session, Democrats propose larger funding for this rural business essential. Gov. Mark Dayton, and Democrats in the Minnesota House and Senate have all been on board with much higher investment than the Republicans. And when the majority party throws those smaller bones at rural Minnesota, they think gratitude is in order. It’s not.

This, of course, has nothing to do with “investing in rural Minnesota”, and everything to do with turning rural broadband into a public utility (to create more sinecures for the DFL political class – and, as with every other public utility, what could possibly go wrong, there?), or serve as a political cudgel…

…that the DFL desperately needs to draw attention from the simple fact that it’s Minnesota’s confiscatory business tax and regulation system, not slow internet, that’s the problem for rural business.

LGA. For several years, legislative Republicans have used Local Government Aid as a “wasteful” spending punching bag — even though smaller Minnesota towns and cities request it every session.

But it’s not the smaller towns that the DFL is fighting for.  As we showed during the 2010 campaign, while LGA was originally designed to help smaller, poorer towns afford things like water and sewage plants and new schools, it’s morphed into a systematic transfer of tax dollars from the parts of the state that work (largely the Republican controlled parts) to the parts that don’t (Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth soak up an awful lot of that money, notwithstanding all the caterwauling about helping rural Minnesota).

Transportation. This is a real sore point to contend with. Republicans make a mockery of responsible transportation management.  [What about the elephant in the room – Ed]  Rural roads need fixing, but rather than increase revenue streams to meet the need, they gimmick their way through a patchwork of band-aids that have no long-term resolution.[What about the elephant in the room – Ed] And to justify all this, they demonize light rail and urban transit as taking away all the available funding – knowing full well that metro transportation has created its own funding stream with the metro sales tax, which frees up more of the gas tax for rural infrastructure.

That’s a bit of flimflam;  transit eats up all sorts of other revenue, including 40% of Minnesota’s exorbitant motor vehicle sales taxes.

But a guy’s gotta ask:  the Democrats (and a Republican, Arne Carlson, who was to the left of many DFLers then, if not now, especially fiscally) controlled most of the power in this state for decades, and (at an institutional level) still do.    Are they saying the roads suddenly went to crap in 2010?

Health care. Here is the real irony of it all. Rural Minnesota is the real beneficiary of the ACA health care provisions. Rural Minnesota has fewer insurance carriers, fewer hospitals and clinics, and less local access.


People across vast swathes of Minnesota went from having several plans to choose from to, in many cases, one.   The horror stories – people having to leave their hometown clinic an drive 40-100 miles to get to an in-network facility – are so prevalent outstate, it’s a wonder any DFLer can leave the metro without getting pelted with rocks and garbage.

What the DFL, Obamacare and MNSure did for rural healthcare was a crime.  If only we had an institution, with printing presses

Child care. This is a problem that has kept getting worse in recent years. Rural residents struggle to find competent and local child care that allows them to continue to work without drowning in expenses. Some rural Minnesotans drive 50 plus miles just to drop off their kids at a place they can trust and still get to work. Instead of addressing this issue, Republicans prefer to fight unions and find fraudulent providers that they can make examples of, while doing nothing for the actual problem.

Wait – back up.

Fighting the unions?

He’s reverring, of course, to the DFL’s years-long effort to turn day care providers into unionized de facto state employees (contributing dues to DFL supporting unions, natch), while in the meantime ratcheting up regulatory requirements to a level that – are driving providers, especially rural ones, from the business at a catastrophic pace.  I’ve interviewed Rep. Mary Franson – the only sitting rep that has actually worked in the daycare industry – and it’s pretty clear – the DFL seems daycare providers as more a potential revenue source than, y’know, childcare providers.

Once again, Democrats have been discussing this issue for some time, but while in the minority, any solution gets bottled up by the majority in committee.

Which is the handy excuse of every party that has no power.

Best we keep it that way.

15 thoughts on ““The DFL Has Always Been The Rural Party, Winston”

  1. A couple of years ago, at an agricultural show, I listened to a panel discuss Mark Dayton’s proposed waterway setback rules. The basic idea was simple, the state wanted farmers to establish green strips along streams to protect the water from agricultural runoff. The proposed width of the green strip was 50 feet on each side of the stream.

    During the question and answer period, a young farmer stood up and asked, “50 feet from where?”

    The panel consisting of the State Ag Commissioner, the deputy EPA commissioner and several state senators and reps, answered with a collective, “Huh?”

    “50 feet from where?” the young man repeated. “50 feet from the center of the stream (which changes daily depending on flow) or 50 feet from the top of the bank, which on a gentle slope could be a mile or two, or 50 feet from the water’s edge (again, something that could change hourly)”?

    Amid all the huh’s and I dunno’s, the state Ag Commissioner mumbled something about it being already defined by law.

    “So,” the young farmer said, “I have to hire a lawyer to interpret the law and I have to hire a hydrologist to set the boundaries – and oh by the way, who is going to pay for that lost production and who is going to explain all this to my banker?”

    Again collective huh’s and I dunno’s.

    “I have another question,” the young guy said, “How many farmers were on the work group who put this idea together?”

    More collective huh’s and I dunno’s.

    A better question would have been, “How many environmental activists were on the panel?”

  2. Excellent, Greg.

    Reminds me of the quip by (I think) Thomas Sowell: Liberals have spent the last 50 years replacing “What Works” with “What Sounds Good.”

  3. Kudos for that comment, Greg. Reminds me of that joke-letter from a farmer who concludes that he can make a good living from payments by government programs by not growing anything at all (if I remember correctly).

  4. So now I hear that our county is going township by township and demanding that everyone bring their septic systems into compliance with the latest regulations. The thinking is that the state will gain a marginal improvement in ground water and waterway purity.

    The cost is north of $20,000 and in many cases depending on soil, north of $40,000. In other words, the citizens are saddled with a substantial investment so that the state can enjoy a marginal improvement.

    But that is not what any of this is about.

    In a business class at the U, my professor stated that there was only three business strategies:

    1) Compete on price.
    2) Compete on quality.
    3) Compete on uniqueness.

    He was wrong, there are four business strategies:

    4) Have the government mandate that people buy your stuff at the highest price possible.

  5. Republicans have formed the RFL committee. You should hear the howling.

    But give Mindemann a lot of credit for being able to spin, BS and obfuscate so convincingly.

  6. Reminds me of that joke-letter from a farmer who concludes that he can make a good living from payments by government programs by not growing anything at all – jdm


    That’s reality, not a joke. There is bums-rush down here in Southern Minnesota to get land into CRP and various 99 year programs.

    I got a kick out of my late father-in-law who put marginal farm into a long term set aside program. The terms of the program mandated that he plant the land in prairie grasses.

    My father-in-law went nuts when he saw the cost of the seeds. “Jesus H Christ,” he yelled, “I’ve fighting weeds all my life, now I got to pay $50,000 to plant them!!!”

  7. I should probably have termed it a “haha-only-serious joke letter”. I was pretty sure the letter was actually true (true-ish anyway, I don’t farm). I was unable to find a copy, the letter is brilliant. As to whether anyone actually sent it…

  8. I put myself through college in part by not growing corn on land my grandmother gave me. No kidding. I at least used to have the tax returns to prove it, too. One thing, per Greg’s comment, that you’ve got to watch out for when buying rural real estate is that there are certain restrictions on how CRP and other converstaion resource land can be used–word to the wise for would-be hobby farmers.

    Greg is also 100% correct that “preventing others by law or custom from joining your profession” is a significant way of ensuring business success these days. Read: “Elon Musk”.

  9. I read the article. I think you missed a biggie. The argument went, the DFL isn’t anti-mining! And besides, anything we get out of that mine will be sent to China, not used in the US so we shouldn’t do it!

    To which, anybody with a brain replies: your overly restrictive policies coupled with insane trade arrangements have killed manufacturing in this country, so of course raw materials get sent to the places that stuff gets made. So now that you’ve killed Minnesota Manufacturing you’re looking to kill Minnesota Mining, too? And just what will those rural folks do for a living now? The DFL wants to turn outstate MN into some sort of museum of natural history, no matter how that affects the residents.

    And for bonus cluelessness, the comments defended Erin Murphy picking a fellow metrocrat for a running mate. Someone other than a metrocrat might have told Murphy that turning the NRA into a boogieman works in the metro, but outstate the NRA has majority support in both parties. There were ways to signal “common sense gun control” without completely alienating folks who like guns and hunting, but bringing the NRA into it scuppered her chances outstate.

  10. So now I hear that our county is going township by township and demanding that everyone bring their septic systems into compliance with the latest regulations. The thinking is that the state will gain a marginal improvement in ground water and waterway purity.

    As someone who recently extended his septic system with the help of a couple neighbors, I’m not terribly surprised. Even doing it with the off-the-books help of a certified plumber who owed me a favor and putting the extension into the alternate field (already surveyed and passed) in a very sandy area, and borrowing another friend’s backhoe, I wound up north of $9K out of pocket. Paying someone else to do all the work could easily have gone past $20K, especially if I’d had to put in something more than the standard system.

    I’d love to know how they’re getting away with it. If they’d have done that in my fairly rural county I have absolutely no doubt we would have had an all new county board in the next election. When they proposed adding a wheel tax of $10/car not too long ago all the weasels who voted for it but one were replaced, and the size of the board cut 50%. The citizens spoke fairly loudly and now the board treads very carefully.

  11. Mindman knows none of the people he’s talking about will ever see his furious wanking; it’s strictly masturbation for his pleasure and the pleasure of his reader.

    Such public humiliations are against his best interest, but he won’t listen to the advice of his betters.

  12. Just talked with a friend from church who described emphatically the dismal state of employment up there. Beautiful, fun, but thanks to people that object to people in China getting employed, very rough. It’s a big cause of substance abuse issues up there, really.

  13. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 08.28.18 : The Other McCain

  14. Blue dog democrats were officially declared persona non grata with the divisive campaign Hillary ran. While Trump did speak to them I think that that the Democrats started to take them for granted and just expected them to show up. It was the one thing they got right about the 2016 election, they did show up. For Trump in probably nearly a 70/30 or 80/20 split. The next constituency I see this happening to for the Democrats is African American community. I watch 3-4 #walkaway videos a week and a good 80% of those videos are either from blacks or latinos, that should send a chill down the spine of every democrat in this country.

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