In back-to-back interviews, State Senator Branden Petersen and political commentator Mitch Berg share their insights and reactions to the Liberty Minnesota 2015 Legislative Scorecard. Republicans in both chambers performed poorly overall, with the House majority scoring failing grades across the board. Was Liberty Minnesota’s measurement fair? Do Republicans deserve more credit than they’ve been given?
Liberty Minnesota, a political action committee, will today release its 2015 legislative scorecard. As an activist and pundit close to their operation, I was granted a sneak peak. The scorecard paints an atrocious picture of a Republican Party often indistinguishable from Democrats.
A legislative scorecard is a tool. Like any tool, it must be used in the proper way, mindful of context, and toward a proper end. One might say that a number on a piece of paper does not tell you everything there is to know about the nuance of legislative performance. They would be correct. However, when all things are considered, when we breakdown the particular bills that Liberty Minnesota scored, when we look at the trend evident in each caucus, an overall indication proves discouraging for principled activists.
Here’s a few of the bills that were scored:
- SF1238-A21 – A repeal of the prohibition on Sunday liquor sales
- SF1215 – A ban on certain flame-retardant chemicals
- SF1679 – New restrictions and regulations imposed on Uber and Lyft
- SF0086 – Retention of data from police license plate readers for 90 days
- SF0205 – Expanded campaign finance regulations
These are not complicated or nuanced issues. They don’t fall into a shade of moral gray. They are simple binary propositions where a vote either supports liberty or restricts it. Each of these votes should be layups for any given Republican. Yet, in the Republican-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives, the highest ranked member on Liberty Minnesota’s scorecard earned a measly 58%.
It gets much worse from there.
One name that stands out prominently toward the bottom of the barrel is Phyllis Kahn. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Kahn has stood as an establishment in the House for 43 years, representing part of Minneapolis as a staunch socialist Democrat. Kahn earned a paltry 29% on the Liberty Minnesota scorecard.
Here’s the rub though. That 29% is the same score earned by 17 of Kahn’s Republican colleagues. On top of that, two elected Republican members of the House actually scored worse than Kahn.
If we credit Kahn with authoring an amendment which would have actually expanded liberty in the state (she sought to lower the on-sale drinking age to 18), then it can be said with some degree of objectivity that Phyllis Kahn proves more respectful of personal liberty than 19 of our elected Republicans. Keep in mind, many others scored only slightly above Kahn in the low to mid 30s.
A reasonable question emerges. What do we have to do to get Republicans who vote better than a metro socialist Democrat?
As activists, we’re often told that our legislative wish list must be postponed until certain conditions are met. Usually, these conditions have something to do with the next election. We need to take or maintain majorities. We need to win the governor’s mansion, etc.
The year-to-year trend shown on the Liberty Minnesota scorecard, along with the disparity in scoring between the upper and lower houses of the legislature, debunk these excuses. We see that many Republican members of the House voted better last year when they were in the minority than this year in the majority. Likewise, we see that Republicans in the Senate, which remains under Democrat control, voted better than their counterparts in the House.
One might ask at this juncture whether I suggest that Republicans can accomplish more in the minority than they can in the majority. The answer is no, of course. Numbers are numbers. Votes are votes. Passing legislation requires majorities, and even passed legislation must be signed by a governor.
However, if the majorities we give to Republicans result in votes indistinguishable from Democrats, one might reasonably ask why we should elect Republicans. The lesser of two evils argument, which never proves particularly compelling, proves less so in the face of indistinguishable evils.
This is the dilemma facing Republicans in Minnesota. If our objective is public policy consistent with our principles and values, we must not only beat Democrats. We must beat the Republicans amongst us who vote like Democrats. Unfortunately, in this House Republican Caucus, that’s pretty much everybody.
For thoughts on how activists should respond, read an expanded version of this article in the forthcoming issue of the Minnesota Tea Party Magazine, available with your membership.
This week in review: Senate moves to bolster CIA torture ban. Politicians’ ideas about science shouldn’t matter. Rand Paul seeks to “blow up the tax code.”
In the Final Round segment: a nuanced view of the Confederate battle flag in the wake of racially motivated murders in South Carolina.
This week in review: Alabama nearly ditches marriage licenses, albeit for the wrong reason. President Obama and the EPA just made your pursuit of happiness more expensive. As student loan debt is forgiven for some borrowers, Congress remains oblivious to its role in fraud.
In the trash talk segment: Liberty MN’s Karl Eggers previews their forthcoming legislative scorecard and offers perspective on a disappointing session.
The week in review. Why do people only hear half of Rand Paul’s war policy? Department of Justice studying “far right” social media. Filmmaker asks Cedar-Riverside Muslims in Minneapolis about Sharia Law and freedom of speech.
In the Trash Talk segment, blogger and radio host Mitch Berg discusses his forthcoming book Trulbert: A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It. What if the world shrugged before Atlas?
In the Final Round, why anarchy appeals to many activists today. Where we can look in society for practical manifestations of how anarchy would play out.
The time has come for things to change around here. Some behind-the-scenes access to the future of the program.
Senator Rand Paul, candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States, “is not just the rarest of his kind, he is literally the only one.” So one commenter responded to an editorial in The Washinton Post declaring Paul’s candidacy dead on arrival. Dana Milbank writes:
The libertarian Kentucky senator’s new book, “Taking a Stand,” came out Tuesday, and it is chock-full of lines that would position Paul well — if he were running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
Milbank goes on to cite excerpts which opponents may easily characterize as “liberal.” Because that’s how we think about public policy these days, in a mindless partisan binary with no nuance or depth.
For many years, the national conventions of the two major political parties have served less as true conventions and more as coronations of presumptive nominees. While state, congressional, and local conventions frequently deal with contested races for party endorsement, they do not attract the same level of media attention as national conventions. Perhaps for that reason, the national conventions have increasingly become prolonged television commercials for the parties’ presumptive nominees.
The word “public” casts a certain magic. Through a strange alchemy, the word purifies any given action. What would be criminal if done privately somehow becomes virtuous if done for or by “the public.”
After voters and activists handed them a historic mid-term election victory, Republicans immediately reneged on their campaign promises and rushed to the cozy middle – again – as they always do. There’s only one way to break from this cycle of abuse.
Why I’m supporting David Gerson for Congress.