30 September 2005

Nose Under Threat; Face Needs Spite

There's this writer you like. You've read most of their work. Their style or subject choice holds your interest. They are consistent, but not totally predictable. This writer has a mind of their own and, although you've never met, you feel like you know and trust them by their work. This writer's never helped you paint your house, or picked up garbage from the side of the road, but their contribution to your life is all you really expect.

After some time, you learn one new thing about this writer. Maybe it's that they square dance, and you think square dancing is stupid. Maybe they drink whole milk and, as a skim drinker, whole milk creeps you out. Maybe this writer loves San Francisco, but you were mugged there one time, and would never go back.

Knowing this one new thing, will you buy their next book?

Do you now throw this writer on the scrap heap because of their square dancing? The writer has never mentioned square dancing in their work. Do you hate whole milk so much that you'll never crack their pages again? You just saw a very positive review of this writer's soon-to-be-released book, but that thing they have for San Francisco is The Last Straw! All you have ever expected of this writer is to work in a manner that produces results that range from amicable to pleasing to rewarding, but now, because of something wholly unrelated to their writing, you write them off.

Randy Kelly is the mayor of Saint Paul. He comes from a modest, blue-collar neighborhood on St. Paul's East Side, where he still lives. He's run a tight ship at city hall, and the benefits are everywhere. There are new business coming into the city, property taxes remained nearly flat, the crime rate is low (especially compared the zoo across the river). There have been 5,000 new housing units built during his term, and the city retained a AAA bond rating in spite of huge cuts in state aid. He a tireless booster for the city, can properly saddle a horse, and knows a two-line pass when he sees it. He frequently wears boots and jeans in public, and moved his elderly mother into his house. Pardon my spin, but he's a good mayor and a good guy. He's been a Democrat for over 30 years, but there is no reason to hold that against him.

During the last presidential election cycle, Randy Kelly endorsed George W Bush. He cited the climate in the world, and thought it'd be better to stick with Bush. Now, here, the holier-than-thou Democrats are turning on him for that reason and that reason alone. They say he's no longer 'Democrat enough' for their petty, narrow worldview, and one strain of extreme idiots are actually trying to recall Kelly. They haven't even hinted he's committed the shallowest wisp of malfeasance; they want Kelly out only because he endorsed Bush over 2 years ago, and they can't stand that.

Kelly's endorsement of Bush changed nothing for anyone in St. Paul, yet people are so consumed by hatred, and so stuck on stupid, that they carry this straw-man grudge around like a boat anchor. It becomes this imaginary itch they cannot scratch.

I back Kelly because I approve of his pragmatic approach to government. The fact that he belongs to a political party I frequently oppose has never been an issue for me, because Kelly puts city ahead of party; he does what's right for St. Paul, not what Howard Dean tells him.

The primary election did not go well for Kelly. I hope people snap out of their zombie-like state and evaluate him on the job he's done in city hall, for St. Paul, and not on what type of milk is in his refrigerator. Katherine Kersten has a nice wrap up to my rant:

By rejecting Kelly -- a successful sitting mayor with a vibrant vision for St. Paul -- the DFL is sending a message to voters: This party has no room for those who don't hew to a narrow, ideological party line. Party officials have descended to pettiness to enforce conformity. Last month, according to news reports, they voted to exclude Kelly from a customary invitation to serve ice cream at the party's State Fair booth.

Obviously, the DFL's narrow-mindedness poses a problem for Randy Kelly. Yet in 2001, he won the mayor's seat without the party's endorsement. In last week's primary, Kelly struck out with DFL stalwarts. But he will work hard to reach a cross-section of voters in the general election.

By rejecting Kelly, the DFL is shooting itself in the foot. American political parties have grown significantly weaker in recent years. Their base among voters has contracted as they have become more ideological. Since the 1970s, the turnout at both Minnesota's Democratic and Republican precinct caucuses has declined dramatically. Today more than one-third of national voters call themselves independents and tell pollsters that neither party reflects their views exactly.

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