Earlier this week I was paying a tiny bit of citizen dues to the Democratic candidates I support, and walking along a street in Maplewood came across a hand-lettered piece of poster board with two words on it: Vote NO!
That was all it said.
The owner of the house, an older man of my vintage, was in the yard raking leaves, and I asked him if it was his sign, and he said yes.
“I like your sign. Does it refer to both proposed amendments?”
“Yes”, he said.
He wasn’t on my literature distribution list, which was a clue, but I told him what I was doing, and offered him campaign literature for my candidates, including JoAnn Ward and Susan Kent.
He declined, politely: “I’m Republican”.
We continued a nice chat about other things, like when we used to be able to burn leaves this time of year, even in the cities, and how their smell added to the ambience.
And then I moved on.
A few houses earlier I’d gone to the door and noticed another familiar sign in the front window within easy view of anyone approaching the door:
(click to enlarge)
These owners weren’t home, but obviously had feelings about Senator Wellstone. It was 10 years ago, October 25, 2002, when the Wellstone plane went down near Eveleth, all killed.
I walked in Wellstone parades and supported him strongly.
Some would call him a crazy liberal, but he was vexing to the anti-Iraq war movement till he finally voted against the war in early October, 2002, and in one of the last parades I walked with him, it was VFW members who were front and center, riding with him on his bus. He was a class act, a people’s politician.
I still have the Paul Wellstone T-shirt with my favorite saying on the back. It was part of my uniform in the Woodbury Days Parade this summer. It says it all, really:
Here’s my own tribute to the Wellstones.
There are other signs, too.
Sometime around October 1 an immense billboard appeared facing eastbound traffic on I-94 between Century and I-494. It supports the candidacy of a local candidate for State Senate.
It has to be a very expensive piece of advertising, located as it is on a prime spot on one of the most heavily traveled roads in the state of Minnesota.
All such political signs require disclaimers, but this one’s disclaimer can’t be seen from the freeway, so some days ago I found my way over to it. Indeed there was a disclaimer for a group with a Minnesota PO Box address. (I decline to name the group: it is easy to find out by doing what I did…driving over to the Billboard and looking.)
I looked the group up. It has no website I’m aware of, but it was possible through FEC (Federal Election Commission) required disclosures, and assorted analyses and commentaries about it, to learn that it is likely a group of a very few members (55 on the report), almost all men, probably men of considerable means, an informal club whose membership is by invitation only. Other than political expense, their group has almost no expenditures. They seem to be equal shareholders and best I can tell from most recent FEC filing, perhaps only one actually lives in the Senate candidates legislative district of over 70,000 residents.
I also know that this group is also funding some of the mailers coming into our mailbox, as well as some TV spots on local cable television; and it is similarly involved in other races.
All of this is legal, but nonetheless covert and devious.
But it’s how the game is played these days.
November 6 comes soon.
Most of us over 18 years of age have the opportunity to go to the polls Nov. 6; many of us won’t bother.
That’s a shame.
In most respects that gentleman raking leaves on a Maplewood lawn and I will probably cancel each other out when we vote. But I don’t know that for sure. I think the local Republican candidate lives in his neighborhood.
He and I had never met, and probably will never meet again, but we had something in common: people who care about public policy in our state and nation.
Please do as the Wellstone t-shirt advises on Nov. 6: Vote, and vote well-informed.
Because this is my space on the internet, here are my local candidate choices: more here