Like most middle class people, I live in a bipartisan neighborhood. My Burnsville Minnesota neighbors are a diverse mix. From the richer to poorer, the Democrats to Republicans and everything in between. We’d like people to believe we all belong to the “in between” category.
In truth, not all do. But our state’s recent government shut down has helped us remember our political ideals are closer together than we think.
Our community is governed by a non-partisan city council, though polarizing rhetoric is sometimes detectable. Some wonder about the political leanings of leaders, like mayor Elizabeth Kautz. Progressive-leaning people believe she’s too conservative. Conservative-leaning people believe she’s too progressive. Which seems like decent evidence Kautz is non-partisan.
Our community benefits from diverse business leaders. They are an interesting mix of elder white men, ethnic minorities and female stars. Many were raised in politically-diverse families.
Republican at White House calls for school funds
Darlene Miller, a Burnsville CEO, is on The White House Council for Jobs and Competitiveness. Some question what she, a Republican, is doing working with a Democratic presidential administration. Others believe her company’s reliance on high-tech equipment rather than costly skills training sounds big-company conservative. Some claim her call for funding for science education sounds big-government progressive.
I think Miller’s attempt to pave the way for common wealth creation is strategically savvy. Benefitting both today’s job-creators and tomorrow’s job-seekers. With homegrown human-assets local businesses will need to stay competitive, and economically solvent.
Freely spoken bipartisanship
Like most places, campaign season has traditionally been when partisan clucking is at its fullest pitch here. But now political campaigns never end. Even, yes, when politicians shut down the government they were elected to serve. As Minnesota leaders did this past Fourth of July weekend.
Which might explain why neighbors at our annual Independence Day picnic seemed more open to talking politics than usual. Forgotten was the copy of the US Constitution one neighbor traditionally brings. Replacing it, by coincidence if not intent, was freely spoken bi-partisanship. Centered on common issues facing our community and country.
An example is a conversation I had with two friends. Each fit the “elder white male citizen” model. But our talk reminded me of recent conversations with female leaders, too.
One of my picnic-friends is a retired executive who holds progressive ideals. The other, also a retired executive, holds conservative ideals. They achieved roughly equal success in their careers. Their political beliefs, evidenced by contrasting campaign yard signs, cancel each other out.
One person, one vote agreement
We talked about candidates for Burnsville’s upcoming special election for city council. And exchanged views on the need for voter identification and for changing election with a “one person, one vote” amendment.
Most tellingly, we sought common ground in ways we haven’t in the past. Around how our stalled out state leaders can break their stalemate and reopen the government we elected them to run.
Tax millionaires v. support battered women shelters
Both businessmen believe citizens who make more than a million dollars per year should pay more taxes to support state budget increases. And these men say they expect many would be more than willing to. Including for social causes like a Burnsville-run battered women’s shelter. It was forced to move to another state the night Minnesota government shut down, by the politicians we elected to protect our citizens and children.
It was not lost on any of us that women and children, possibly some we’ve seen in our neighborhood, have been left out in the cold by politician’s posturing.
Agreed: Citizens United not for citizens
ruling, doesn’t benefit citizens or unite our country. The law allows corporations, including global competitors, to fund political campaigns. Notably, both men were leaders at well-known Minnesota-based global corporations.
Neither businessman believes Citizens United represents our different political ideals, much less the civic collaboration we seek. All of us agreed it is a veiled political strategy typical of US congressmen. Including some who represent our community.
Where Burnsville congressmen play
We talked of how some of our congressmen have long played big-boy games with Washington power brokers, while long ducking our efforts to talk turkey about what we, their constituents, need. Including our shared beliefs about, among other things, the needs for campaign finance reform.
Would that our locally elected officials could have seen how we cooperated as concerned-citizens by talking in Burnsville, face-to-face. Not as partisan competitors. But, rather as co-stakeholders, seeking non-polarized solutions.
Which left us shaking our heads in non-partisan unison. Wondering how our votes for congressmen like these have managed to undermine our community.
Politicians meet citizens? It’s time.
I expect this topic will come up again at our Neighborhood Night Out potluck. Perhaps a politician or two would like to join us.