Let's hope the shutdown prompts voters to demand an end to false choicesby John Wodele
St Paul, Minn. — It's ironic that the great Minnesota government shutdown begins on the weekend we celebrate the birth of our democracy. You know — government of the people, by the people and for the people.
This disruption of government service was made possible by the people, through an electoral process created by a few people.
Think about it. Last year we had a general election that offered us a choice of "tax the rich" or "no new taxes" as a solution to a budget deficit that has haunted this state for nearly 10 years.
We were given that choice because the two major political parties decided — at caucuses, conventions and then in a June primary — that those were the options we would get.
Given the low participation in those conventions and the primary, most of us either didn't care or were just fine with the choices.
But in the general election a funny thing happened. Voters chose both. They elected a "no new taxes" legislature and a "tax the rich" governor, solutions that by themselves — as nearly every nonpartisan economic expert tells us — are no solutions at all.
But woe to the elected official in either party who would compromise for the good of the people. Or, for that matter, go against party leaders and propose a more substantive solution — a comprehensive and balanced solution that would include spending cuts, increased revenue from consumption taxes, a short-term surtax tilted toward the highest earners (but also middle to high earners), and the always promised but never quite achieved reform of government services.
And so, after five months of some of the most ineffective government you would ever like to see, we come to this: the government we deserve — and it's not much.
Some elected officials are hoping the shutdown is not too inconvenient. I hope it is very inconvenient. I hope it is irritating, aggravating and disturbing to as many people as possible and as quickly as possible. And I hope that tens of thousands of Minnesotans will call, email, Twitter and text their elected representatives and the governor and tell them that they are tired of false choices. That they should forget about the unreasonable "no new taxes" solution, the unworkable "tax the rich" solution, and the political consequences of doing the right thing.
If that happens, the shutdown might help bring constructive solutions to a problem we have struggled with for 10 long years.
John Wodele, spokesman for former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, is a writer and public relations consultant.