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From the Lefthand Corner: DFL - a voice of reason

Although it doesn't always do so, a la our state convention last June, the Minnesota DFL Party exhibited its reasonable collective self at our off-year convention or business conference a couple weeks ago.

About 350 Central Committee statewide delegates gathered at Eagan High School in southern Twin Cities suburbia on March 3. Too often, just locating in the Metropolitan Mosquito District slants results toward the urban way of thinking, which we've had too much of for too long. There was undoubtedly some such effect that day, but not as much as usual.

Our chair and vice chair were re-elected without opposition. All the other officer positions were filled, with expected outcomes quite different from our unpredicted, and quite unexplainable, results last year.

A metro candidate did win the contested three-way race for state secretary. However, that was more because of his stronger campaign and the divided opposition of our Eighth District favorite from Duluth and another "rural" candidate from just east of St. Paul.

The overriding issue that marked the day was that of copper nickel mining. That is just the kind of issue that our party has fought over excessively and almost endlessly in the past. It is the kind of issue that no one can win on, and as a political party, we can only lose on.

This writer has been around the political arena for too long, some would say far too long, and believes that the Minnesota DFL Party reduced itself from the majority party statewide to a minority status, particularly in our rural areas, just by the way we mishandled the very controversial issue of abortion in past decades.

We wasted countless hours and agendas, with good fellow DFLers trying to change other DFLers on an issue that proved irresolvable in our party political arena. I too well remember the State DFL Central Committee meeting years ago when the pro-choice position first prevailed after a close and contentious vote.

As the "pro-choicers" cheered and the "pro-lifers" angrily and sadly stalked out, I think I had a tear in my eye as I, for once, made a prophetic prediction that our beloved DFL Party would "rue the day."

Not too surprisingly, that pro-choice official party position drove a substantial number of lifelong DFLers away. Too many completely defected and became Republicans. Others just dropped out or became a lot less active. Our stated positions on abortion issues has cost our party dearly in statewide, regional and even local political races ever since; and it still does.

Copper nickel mining presents another land mine politically. It is another damned if you do, or damned if you don't. Some DFLers are ready to provide subsidies, incentives and roll out the red carpet for the companies that appear ready to dig. They see extraction and processing of ore as providing much needed jobs on the Range and a big boost to our area economy.

Other equally adamant DFLers contend no copper nickel extraction; not now, not ever, not Polymet, never in northeastern Minnesota, nor anywhere else.

We've argued the copper nickel mining issue quite long enough, at least for awhile. I don't see or hear many "copper nickel" Democrats changing very many "clean water" Democrats, or vice versa, very much lately.

For that Saturday in early March at least, us Democrats acted as a voice of reason, acknowledging our reasonable limitations and recognizing and realizing that we can be unified in issue diversity without being unanimous on any issue. Go DFL!