For the past nearly two weeks, and for a few days to come, the Winter Olympics are unfolding before our eyes and ears. Overall, it is more than a giant spectacle. It is a welcome diversion from much of the mundane and negative drivel that dominates our TV screens these days. TV, a great medium and potential for the betterment of America has, in many aspects, deteriorated into a vast wasteland. Far too much of our entertainment (and programs labeled as news) are negative, often scarily so, and little is positive or joyful entertainment, and even less is informative.
Right now, three-fourths of state governments in this great nation of ours are controlled by a single political party. Almost half are Republican controlled, and a quarter are Democratic. While I like our present situation in Minnesota, this is still a disturbing trend. It is another prime example of the pervasive, excessive influence of money on our politics.
A week from next Tuesday, Feb. 4, do something most people don’t bother to do. Go to your local precinct caucus – Republican or Democrat/DFL. Take a little time that Tuesday night to seek out and spend an hour or two with your like-minded neighbors. In that small and easy way you will become a valuable part of our political process. Remember our government is us, or what we allow it to be if we don’t participate.
In a recent column I expressed hope for the 2014 election campaigns, made up of fair and open exchanges and presentation of contrasting candidates and contentions. That didn’t get off to a very good start. The self-entitled entity Americans for Prosperity gave our country, and particularly our area, a Christmas present by launching an end-of-year and early 2014 misleading negative attack on two targeted U.S. representatives — one from New Hampshire, and the other one our own Rick Nolan. Both are first-termers, facing stiff re-election challenges.
We don’t seem to have as many Christmas cards around as we used to. “Lost art” may not be the best term. Maybe it is more a lost practice or lost habit among us. The real art was always on the cards; but nevertheless, most often, the ” lady of the house” seemed to have a deeply ingrained practice of Christmas card selection and sending down to an art or science.
It was toward the end of a cold December Sunday. I don’t remember much detail, but I believe the outside chores were done. The only radio in the house was tuned to the only station that played through the nighttime static. President Roosevelt was on the air. His voice, in slow and measured fashion, sounded deep and commanding to this barely 6-year-old boy. Whatever was programmed was interrupted. The family huddled around the wood cabinet radio, listening and wondering with every word.
I share the thanks expressed by other writers at this time of year. Thanksgiving, like our recently expressed appreciation of veterans, ought to be year-around for all of us. We, in this lakes area, have so much to be thankful for. To begin with, we live in a society where we can speak out and express personal political belief and opinion with only a little fear of sanction. That is not true for many in this world. Since the U.S.A. began, most of us, whites at least, don’t lose their lives and property just for political expression, even when political losers.
On Sunday an opinion columnist labeled last week’s election (primarily referencing the Twin Cities) as an education election. I believe she was in part referencing the learning experience with the new ranked choice voting.
The Eighth Congressional District is huge. It runs from north to south from the Canadian border to the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and east to west from Wisconsin to Wadena. Several of its eight-plus state Senate districts and 16-plus state legislative districts are larger than some states in the United States. So we have a very unique situation shaping up for the coming year.
Congratulations to Janet Yellen! I don’t know her and I didn’t know of her until a week ago. Ms. Yellen presents a likelihood of one strong, sensible move to keep a fairly aggressive Federal Reserve Board policy in place to alleviate the dragged out aspects of the recent recession. I really like the fact that it is quite clear that she wasn’t appointed because she is a woman. She was appointed because she was the logical choice, the most experienced, the best qualified and most ready to serve.