The Democratic Governor Who Prevented Democracy

It’s fascinating to consider the irony infused within the closing days of Governor Mark Dayton’s shutdown of Minnesota. The resolution, such as it is, pleases no one. The rabid anti-capitalists on the Left didn’t get their coveted tax increase. The fiscally sane did not see a reduction in spending. In fact, the resolution is the worst of both worlds – increasing spending beyond projected revenue while putting the balance on a credit card. However, the resolution is not nearly as disturbing as the means by which it was reached.

Consider, Governor Dayton set the process up for failure. He refused to sign individual budget bills or work with the legislature on points of agreement. Instead, he insisted upon reaching total agreement on every facet of the budget before signing anything. Such unreasoned intransigence assured a shutdown from the start. Governor Dayton’s repeated refusal to “turn the lights on,” and continued insistence that a special session not be called until a behind-closed-doors agreement was reached, shut Minnesota constituents out of the process.

Once the “framework” deal was announced, constituent groups clamored to get a seat at the table, to see bills before they were voted on, and to offer feedback. They were trying to, however audaciously, be represented. What they ran up against was a wall of indifference, laid with the brick of impossible terms and cemented by pressure to end the shutdown at any cost.

This was a situation crafted entirely by Governor Dayton. At any point in the process, from the start of the regular session through his final signature on the last budget bill, the governor could have ensured an honest process subject to public scrutiny, open debate, and constituent feedback. Instead, he insisted upon maintaining a political environment and terms of negotation whereby the only path to proceed was unofficial, unrecorded, and unaccountable – behind closed doors in a darkened capitol.

The question has to be asked. Is this what democracy looks like? Was legislation from a “cone of silence” what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they laid the framework for our republic?

The proceeding was part of the weekly newsletter from Minnesota’s North Star Tea Party Patriots, The Patriot’s Perspective. Check out the rest of the issue and subscribe here.