Don Bye, columnist
A headline in a Minneapolis newspaper recently read, "Charitable gambling in state soars past $2B." It makes it sound like a favorable accomplishment, a growth industry. I don't think our forefathers gave it much thought, and neither did we until a few decades ago. As with many issues, there are two sides to the gambling coin. Some welcome the dollars and excitement. Others decry it as part of a decadent society. Some feel that no gambling is charitable.
By the time you read this, our 2018 primary election will be a little bit of history. If early and mail-in ballots are any indication, more Minnesotans will have cast primary votes than we have had for some time. Unfortunately for us DFLers, for some time Republican voters have tended to be more disciplined and habitual primary voters. They tend to be more regular voters in every election, while Democrats are more prone to skip primaries and non-presidential elections.
For a lot of crazy reasons, our 8th District congressional campaign has been pushed to a back burner by the media the last couple months. The craziness started with our respective Republican and DFL conventions, compounded by the following craziness in switching offices to run for, calls for resignation and changing minds in runs for governor and attorney general, all of which has pretty much dominated media attention.
Both President Trump and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty have shown us, much too vividly, how candidates for political office can pander their way to election. In Echoland, we've been "blessed," or some of us would say "afflicted," with two years of a president who will say anything to get and stay elected. He is already spending big bucks of other people's money in an effort to turn the likely two more years into six. We in Minnesota had eight years of a governor with a penchant for pandering - Mr. Pawlenty - who is now threatening us with another four years.
As we celebrate our nation's Independence Day this week, I invite thought and reflection as to how we feel regarding our nation's status and direction. We celebrate our rare existence in a very rich nation with an unparalleled quarter of a thousand years of continuous, uninterrupted freedom border to border.
We are just driving back from our biennial DFL State Convention in Rochester. It was not a new experience. I believe it was my 27th such event, dating back to 1964. It was another three long days of fascinating frustration to us DFL junkies, of boredom and bewilderment to some of the less interested, and a mix of the two to many participants and observers.
Another horrible and senseless occurrence happened in Texas last week. It was another isolated, but too common, event: a school shooting with multiple deaths of students and teachers. Our society in aftermath wonders, "Why? Why? Why?" Then, while the almost constant coverage is in play, society ponders what we can do to prevent the same or similar future happenings.
"A toooussin Svedes run tru da veeds - a shasd by vun Norveegen" was a common comment around our quite Norwegian household. It was even more common as the May 17 Norwegian Independence Day appeared near at hand on our wall calendar. We grew up believing that our little world was divided between those of us Norwegians and those who wished they were.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently announced his candidacy for governor again. He was our governor for eight years, ending just eight years ago. He was a very negative governor then, and there is no reason to believe he'll be any better now. Pawlenty made a feeble attempt at the presidency in the 2012 race. That ended early when, in Iowa, he hit bottom, polling even below the next lowest candidate, our very own Michele Bachmann.
Florida teens are trying hard to get our gun laws changed in the aftermath of the terrible school shooting last week. Is it just a question again of how long it will last? Or is this the time such effort will last and bring about meaningful change? We have had all too many incidents of single or dual planned shootings of innocent young people in our land the past few decades. In most of those cases, high- powered assault rifles were used by the shooters.