Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I used to live in Minnesota, in Minneapolis.

It was the late-1970s and America was moving from its place as the most progressive nation on the planet and digging itself a hole in which it could become the least progressive nation in the world.

There were anti-gay initiatives on the ballots in Florida, California, and Minnesota, the first discussions of corporate deregulation were boiling-up, and the anti-tax movement was gaining remarkable momentum.

Minneapolis in particular, and Minnesota in general, was an amazing place, an anomaly in the otherwise very conservative Midwest. Except for the loud and powerful enclave of Catholicism in St. Paul, most Minnesotans leaned toward a more social approach to government. Charity was rampant, arts and education funding were plentiful, poverty was nominal. I was impressed by the Scandinavian sensibility I encountered.

Later in life, I became a fan of the late Paul Wellstone, junior Senator from Minnesota. Wellstone embodied that Minnesotan sensibility I'd found so encouraging and was sort of the opposite of the self-serving likes of Governor Jesse Venture and Senator Norm Coleman, two of the pop-stars that have recently served the people of that state.

Norm Coleman is a fake conservative who drapes his campaigns in hot-button issues of the day, and then uses his office to denigrate constituents, citizens, and all of humanity, while ensuring that the pockets of his corporate sponsors are well-lined with taxpayer dollars. Norm Coleman is bad for America.

Norm Coleman is also a bad Senator who is in danger of losing his seat because most Americans are sick of these opportunistic politicians who have taken a so-called conservative tack, but are really just corporate apologists digging in for a slice of the pie for themselves.

Come now, Al Franken, comedian, author, political pundit, and Minnesotan.

Franken, like many Americans, is fed-up with the phony conservatism espoused by the likes of Norm Coleman, and he has decided to do something about it. He is running for Senate.

The established Democratic Farm Labor Party (DFL) in Minnesota did not unanimously embrace Franken's campaign, but they have endorsed his candidacy and he will be running against Coleman in the November elections.

Alexander Zaitchik writes in The Nation:
Both in style and content, Franken's grassroots campaign is inspired by his old friend Paul Wellstone, the latest member of Minnesota's large pantheon of liberal patron saints. Like Wellstone, Franken built support for his candidacy by mounting an aggressive statewide campaign. A full year before the DFL's endorsing convention, Franken began touring the state, including regular trips to the northern mining country called The Range. He attended "bean-feeds" (pot-luck fundraisers) and county fairs where he made the case for a broad progressive agenda based on four pillars: energy and green jobs, universal healthcare, more funding for education, and ending the war in Iraq. Labor groups were among the first to acknowledge that Franken carried Wellstone's mantle.
Dispatch from Minnesota: Al Franken v. Norm Coleman

A liberal friend of mine has expressed concern that, as a comedian, Franken lacks the political savvy to be a good Senator. I believe that since our government is now a joke, perhaps only a comedian can save us!

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