Minnesota Nice: Vote No Twice

On this election day, nobody’s waiting for the Hymie’s Record endorsement and besides we seem to be those few, rare undecided voters. Last week I worked with Pocahontas County to present the return of Theme Time (now at the fabulous Turf Club), a monthly revue celebrating one peculiar topic or another, and for our first theme we chose ELECTIONS. You can see a playlist on the offical Theme Time website (here). In my post on that new site I quoted from Steve Goodman’s silly 1976 single, “Election Year Rag”:

The winner’s always someone else and the loser’s always us.

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(“Election Year Rag” by Steve Goodman)

The voter ID legislation implies there is a problem with voter fraud in our state and nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s protect the integrity of our well-earned reputation for fair elections – even during the senate race recount four years ago our officials – Democrats and Republicans – resolved the conflict with decency and decorum. There are many people who didn’t agree with the way it was handled, but few who would argue there was genuine corruption and dishonesty behind the actions of officials. We are a state where you can buy a firearm at a gun show without a background check and that seems more important than casting a vote (again, see quote above).

I am a person who often forgets my driver’s license and keys when I go out. I have never been upset when I am refused a drink in a bar because that is the law. I will feel the same when, inevitably, I am unable to vote for the same reason. It may well be that on that particular Tuesday I don’t have the time to go home, find my license (usually a chore) and get back to the polls. I resent the fact that I may, in some future election, be unable to cast my vote against a further expansion of government authority because of the outcome of this one. I vote NO.

On the subject of the second proposal I will make a similar conservative argument – it is an unnecessary expansion of government power. Same sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota. This vote will not change that. What it will do is unprecedented in American history: It will amend a Constitution in order to restrict the rights of the people, not of the government. The men who conceived our Constitution would find same sex marriage an abomination, but they would be all the more aghast at any restriction of the people’s rights being included in a state constitution. Consider the number of times you see the phrase “Congress may not” in the Constitution, while you don’t once see the phrase “the people may not.”

This abomination to the core principles of our Constitution will not make my own marriage stronger, nor prevent the staggering divorce rate or the heartbreaking statistics about children born out of wedlock. All I can see it doing is fuck up the lives of the same sex couples in my neighborhood by enormously expanding their already oppressive ostracism. And, in blurring the line between church and state to an unprecedented degree, the proposed amendment will set the stage for other laws that will, ironically, bite churches in the ass (as pointed out with precision in this essay in the Star Tribune last week).

It will also not deal with this nation’s mounting debt, it’s un-paid wars (and the coming veterans’ health crisis neither Presidential candidate has the courage to address), or our stagnant economy. I own a small business and restricting the peoples’ rights will not help us limp along for another year. It will not help my family keep our home in spite of still-falling values and the complete inability to refinance because every appraisal will compare our home to a bank-owned foreclosure sale. It won’t address the fact that we’re terrified to go to the doctor because we seldom understand what is covered and often are disappointed when we find it out. In fact, all of the problems we are facing as a nation will still be here regardless of the presence or absence of state-recognized same sex couples.

It won’t fix a goddamn thing. We vote no.

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(“Someday my Day Will Come” by George Jones)

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