Minnesota politics: Say no to negativity

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I had planned this post a few weeks ago when I started the Minnesota theme, but I must admit it was a bit of a gamble. I had no idea whether I would be proud of what Minnesotans would vote for on election day or not. And there was a lot at stake.

Now, you might be scratching your head a bit. Minnesota has been in recent political news primarily from Republican presidential candidates Michele “Queen of Rage” Bachmann and Tim “Blandington J. Vanillaman” Pawlenty (and while we’re speaking of nicknames, we also had Jesse “The Body” Ventura as Governor from 1999-2003…oops). But Minnesota also has had the longest blue streak voting for president, due to the distinction of being the only state to vote for homeboy Walter Mondale in 1984. Even though Minnesota was mentioned as a swing state in this election, it never really seemed possible that Romney would win here.

Because in my state, 10 years after the tragic death of our beloved progressive senator, neighbors still put out their green Wellstone signs year after year. Paul Wellstone was elected to the senate in 1990 after being outspent at a 7-1 margin by incumbent Rudy Boschwitz. I was 4 years old then; it was over my high school PA system that his death was announced just 11 days before he would have been reelected to his 3rd term in the senate. So, for most of my childhood, I thought that the job of a politician was to do what Wellstone did: work for peace, healthcare, and the environment. He was an activist for anyone not in a position to otherwise have their voice heard–immigrants, the poor, those with mental illnesses. In short, Wellstone made me naive about politicians.

However amazing Wellstone was, he did have his faults. For instance, by 2001, he admitted he’d made a mistake by voting in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. If Wellstone were alive today, I can only imagine he would have ultimately championed gay rights, recognizing that as the next important battle for equality.

Though Wellstone is gone, the ideals of equality and fairness are just as strong with the citizens of Minnesota. This past Tuesday we had two constitutional amendments on the ballot: one to limit marriage to man+woman and one to require ID to vote. That’s not Minnesota nice. So we voted no. Nothing makes me prouder of my state.

 

Unfortunately, Michele Bachmann was reelected by outspending opponent Jim Graves 20-1, but the race was much tighter than anyone would have predicted. The good news is that the Governor, state house of representatives, and state senate are all democratic, so it’s quite possible that gay marriage actually will pass in the next two years here. That would be even more exciting than just shooting down a bigoted amendment.

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of Minnesota–there’s a lot to love here. Even Slate says you should move to Minneapolis. Not convinced by my past few posts? Watch Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak and his mom crowd surfing upon the news that Obama was reelected: Checkmate.

 

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Minnesota music: Hot cheetos and kidneys

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Earlier this week, Minnesota had the rare distinction of having some of the best weather in the country. Those who are not from Minnesota seem to have only one concept of the state: that it is in a perpetual state of winter. And this, I’ll admit, makes me a little sad for my state. Because, in truth, we have gorgeous seasons, and in summertime it gets hot. Like seriously hot.

The hottest anthem of this past summer, already feeling like a distance memory, is yet another source of Minnesota pride. (Nice transition, right?) If you haven’t heard Hot Cheetos and Takis yet, you’re welcome:

These North Minneapolis kids created this song and video as part of a YMCA camp. And their whole album is amazing. It just makes your heart smile, no?

You might be surprised to learn that kids in the Twin Cities have plenty of local hip-hop idols to turn to, from Brother Ali to master beat-boxer Carnage to my favorites, Doomtree, a seven-piece group (I’ve written about Dessa before, the sole–amazing–female in the group):

The guy who raps first in that video, POS, released a new album just last week. Sadly, the release was somewhat overshadowed by POS’s announcement that he would be canceling the release tour on account of needing a kidney transplant ASAP. Immediately, support came rolling in. His friends set up a donation site, pointing out that he’ll have lifelong prescription costs and “rappers don’t have robust benefit packages.” They asked for $25,000 to pay for the transplant and follow-up costs, and gave themselves 120 days to raise it.

It took about 5 days. As of today, just a week after the site launched, 767 people have donated for a total of $33,116. Several have told POS seriously that if they’re a match, they will donate a kidney of their own as well. And if that doesn’t make your heart smile, I don’t know what would.