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Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials

November 12, 2018

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nov. 9

To our new leaders: Get to work for all Americans

Accountability, yes. But don’t forget the basics: health care, economy, etc.

Democrats ride into the U.S. House with a strong, new majority and, for many of them, decisive wins that affirm their agendas.

And they’re not waiting until January to make their presence felt. Incoming House chairs have served notice to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that they intend to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. That kind of vigorous check on executive power is needed and should move ahead. But it would be a mistake for Democrats to become consumed by efforts to take down this president and unleash a blizzard of investigations and impeachment proceedings.

Voters want accountability, but that was not the issue uppermost in the minds of those who sent a new majority to the House. Rather, exit polls, interviews and candidates themselves all told the same story: It’s health care, stupid. America has awakened to the fact that an estimated 1 in 3 of us have a pre-existing condition and that the time for the other two is most likely coming.

It’s also an economy that, for all its good points, has left too many behind with jobs that pay too little for them to raise a family, educate their children and save for retirement. It’s an education system that has saddled a generation with soaring student loan debt, as they attempt to pursue better-paying jobs and careers. It’s an outdated immigration system and the refusal to deal meaningfully with gun violence.

Americans are frustrated by politicians who get caught up in distractions, who scapegoat others as a way of ducking hard choices. Yes, this country is deeply polarized, a condition made worse by those who actively foster that division instead of reminding citizens of all that binds them together as one nation.

But the citizens themselves have not forgotten. The cultural wars are old and tired, and while they raged, many fell further and further behind. The reality is that many Americans want the same things: reliable and affordable health care, good schools that lead to well-paying jobs in all walks; decent housing in safe neighborhoods; living wages; good roads and transit; and, finally, the path to a comfortable retirement. Democrats and Republicans will have different visions of how to get there, but both sides should recognize that Americans are hungry for leaders who will focus on what’s important to them in their everyday lives.

Whether she is able to stay this course or not, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi struck the right note on election night, when she said the incoming House majority would work on those bread-and-butter issues, and “we will strive for bipartisanship with fairness on all sides. We have a responsibility to find common ground where we can. We have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that make our democracy strong. We will work on solutions that bring us together because we have all had enough of division. The American people want peace. They want results.”

In the Republican Senate, in which the GOP widened its majority, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, offered a similar conciliatory outlook. Earlier threats to cut Social Security and Medicare are now deemed “unlikely,” and he is talking about the need to “fix” the Affordable Care Act rather than scrap it outright. New tax legislation, he acknowledges, will require bipartisan support — a recognition of the fact that tax bills must originate in the House, giving Democrats control of that terrain.

Divided government can work — and work well — when both sides are committed to finding common ground and recognizing the need for genuine compromise rather than waging all-out war on the other side. If President Donald Trump continues to feed on division, that spirit will be needed more than ever.

Americans — and Minnesotans __will have to do their part by praising compromise where it occurs and rejecting the pugnacious, all-or-nothing stance that has done so much to corrode public life.

___

Post Bulletin, Nov. 7

After bitter election, let us have peace

Let us have peace.

Elections in America, like the one completed with Tuesday’s voting, have come to resemble uncivil wars.

Neighbors are pitted against neighbors, communities are divided, family members tiptoe around politics at holiday gatherings, and a nation struggles, without much guidance, for a way to heal.

Now the campaign is over, the votes have been cast, it’s safe to once again go to your mailbox without fear of finding yet another mean-spirited political mailer; you can again watch your favorite television program without being bombarded with commercials making ugly charges against this or that candidate.

After this latest uncivil war we turn to the wisdom of a man who helped win the Civil War and wanted to heal the nation. Upon accepting the 1868 nomination for president, Ulysses S. Grant said, “Let us have peace.”

But can we bridge the gulf that separates us? Is there even a will? Can we rediscover civility? Are there, among those elected to office Tuesday, leaders who have the desire to help us along that path?

In a nation so starkly and evenly divided, it is certain that nearly one-half the electorate woke up today in bitter despair at Tuesday’s results. The other half are rejoicing.

Those emotions, however honest, cannot obscure what has to come next. There are problems that won’t solve themselves. There are communities, and a nation, that need to be brought together.

We have sensed in recent months a desire on the part of citizens to at a minimum tone down the constant conflict. It is, after all, exhausting to live in a society riven by, not just disagreements, but outright disrespect for each other.

We predict that, among Tuesday’s elected candidates, those who appeal to that desire, who are able to harness positive rather than negative energy, will win more than just an election. They will win the gratitude of their fellow citizens.

If they can’t, or don’t want to unite us, then we, the people, will have to do it ourselves. It has to start one-on-one, neighbor-to-neighbor. We need to listen to each other, give credence to opinions, and honor differences.

It’s up to us. We can heal the society. We can harness its energy and potential to serve the greater good. Or we can stubbornly cling to our bitterness and divisions.

We believe there is no other choice after this most recent uncivil war. Let us demand, and have, peace.

___

The Free Press of Mankato, Nov. 12

Guns: DFL should take aim to secure public safety

Why it matters: GOP leaders in the Legislature last year were so beholden to the gun industry they refused to have hearings on gun safety.

With mass shootings on the rise last year, the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives shut down hearings on things like background checks and taking guns from domestic abusers.

The GOP-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings on common-sense gun measures offered by members of its own caucus. It turned off the microphone on a young person who appeared spontaneously and wanted to speak about his fear of guns in schools. The GOP House speaker vowed allegiance to the NRA, telling reporters they would pass no gun laws that didn’t have the NRA stamp of approval.

Well, times have changed, and Minnesotans will be safer for that.

New DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortmann, of Brooklyn Park, has vowed to attack the gun issues right away. She notes the double digit gains in House seats, mostly from the Twin Cities suburbs, was a response from those constituents wanting some common-sense gun legislation.

Mankato’s Rep. Jack Considine will also likely figure to be a significant factor in the debate as a member of the House Public Safety committee and quite possibly its incoming chairman, though that decision has yet to be made.

Considine offered last year the obvious legislation to ban “bump stocks,” those attachments that can make a regular gun act like a machine gun. One was used by the Las Vegas killer, who fired 1,000 rounds to kill 58 people.

Considine’s bill did not receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled committee.

The House committee also ignored bills to expand background checks to gun shows and online sales. It also rejected hearings on “red flag” laws that would allow judges to decide if guns should be taken from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.

Those bills will all get a fair hearing in the DFL-controlled House. It’s about time the representatives of the people stood up for public safety.

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