There once was a time when Minnesota held an exalted position in American politics. It was known as a model of good government, the kind of place
that sent poets to the Senate and produced politicians with nicknames like “The Happy Warrior.”
Today, that’s hard to imagine.
For the second time in six years, the state’s leaders failed Friday to agree on a budget in time to avert a government shutdown, marking Minnesota
as one of just five states where government has ground to a halt in the last decade—and the only one where it’s happened twice.
When my grandparents first immigrated here from Europe after the failure of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 they of course found a home and settled
down but made their first vacation in this country to the state of Minnesota. Visiting the state from Minneapolis to the Iron Range, one thing my
grandfather still speaks of today about the state was the exception personalities of its inhabitants. Had it not been for the horrible winters the
state experiences they would have lived there. So this was something I have heard about a few times throughout my life. Anyways moving on...
I liked the contribution provided by earlier politicians in the state from the 1970s and 80s, they shed an all new light on the subject.
“What’s changed is that the two political parties are driven by their extremes more than they should be,” said Al Quie, a Republican
governor in the 1970s and 1980s. “I’ve come to believe in the power of something that’s invisible, the relationship people have with each
other…I know the two Republican leaders. You couldn’t find two better ones for [Democratic Gov. Mark] Dayton to work with. It’s the
May I get an Amen?
“Our state used to be much, much, more unique,” said former Rep. Bill Luther, a moderate Democrat who served in the state House in the 1970s,
the state Senate in the 1980s and the U.S. House from 1995 to 2003. “We were held out by so many people as being a leader in so many areas. Over
time, what has happened is we’ve become more nationalized like other states. If you’re from a state that mirrors the national trends, you
This is something I have long suspected of being a leading contributor to political polarization and the elimination of elections being focused on the
issues pertaining more to the district than any national political agenda. That is not the case today however. Politicians cannot be more independent
because they must fit the national party agenda, this also allows for the people to drift apart politically as the citizens ignore the individuality
of a candidate and instead view him/her based upon the party. Not only does that harm the people, elections, and the government but it harms the
unique cultural/political identity of the local region.
“The culture of the Republican Party went from Eisenhower-type moderation of the ‘50s to very far right by the ‘90s,” said Carlson, a
Republican who served from 1991 to 1999. “My administration was kind of an aberration, a temporary stop, on the longer journey.”
What he stated was a trend I have been working hard to fully grasp, from what I have been able to put together it began all the way back in the 1930s
and gradually changed and grew over time. The Conservative Coalition was formed between Republicans and Democrats in the 1930s to oppose the New Deal,
Roosevelt however was a powerful enough force to hold the Democratic coalition together. Under Truman it fractured a little bit with the Dixiecrats
breaking away in 1948 Presidential election. Eisenhower then began inroads into the South during his two elections. Come 1960 the grassroots movement
against the Eastern Establishment GOP began with the National Review Republicans of the period.
These Republicans rallied around Barry Goldwater's political aspirations in 1964. Seeing as how Goldwater was not a strong enough candidate the
movement at the Presidential level collapsed. But in 1968 Richard Nixon took a new approach by administering the beginning of the Southern Strategy
where he would bring Southern whites into the GOP by feeding off the racial tensions of the region. Nixon crumbled however due to Watergate and Ford
was not a well liked Republican among Southern stock because he represented the traditional Republican Northerner.
With the rise of television as a major political tool the Conservatives tried again to win in 1976 against Ford in the primary but lost. As Carter's
term became known as the days of malaisse America was looking for something and someone new, Ronald Reagan brought that in 1980 beating George H.W.
Bush for the nomination then Carter for the election. With Reagan came the Neoconservatives, the Moral Majority, and the Southern Conservatives to
power in the Reagan coalition.
It was not until 1994 was the Reagan Revolution solidified with the GOP taking control over the South and the Culture War being placed
front-and-center in our national dialogue. With people arguing over abortion, guns, gay marriage, and religion we became polarized and seen ourselves
almost as two different types of Americans. That is where the real problems arose. The Tea Party beginning in 2009 was only another extension of the
grassroots activity of American Conservatism of the past half century.
As more popular uprisings occur the more our national political debate becomes polarized until we reach a point where the majority of people and
politicians declare 'enough is enough' with the partisan politics. Perhaps we are reaching that time now, one can hope.