Whom I’m Voting For, and Why

Whom I’m Voting For, and Why November 2, 2012

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

Let me note, I write this post not telling you for whom to vote. Nor do I think that you (or I) have an obligation to disclose our votes. A secret ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy.

I disclose my prospective votes today to offer them up for discussion. So, read them, then have at it:

President – Barack Obama (D)
Obama’s first term has not been perfect. But he has basically done what he said he would do. Maybe he hasn’t brought back the hope, progress, and unity for which we’d all hoped. But policy-wise, he has had a steady hand, and he has attained some major accomplishments in the face of the most conservative Republican party in memory. The bail-out of the auto industry was a big gamble, that worked. The Affordable Care Act is the right thing for our society’s advancement. And we may be not at war by the end of a second term.

U.S. Senate – Amy Klobuchar (D)

Klobuchar makes me proud to be a Minnesotan. In the midst of a polarized Congress, she is an even-handed, soft-spoken centrist. She’s friendly toward business. She’s non-ideological. There’s a reason she’s up by 43 points (!) in the polls. As Thomas Friedman wrote this week, “Klobuchar built that lead by combining a moderate liberalism with a probusiness, projobs agenda and a pragmatic problem-solving approach. All of Klobuchar’s campaign ads are positive, and many feature Republican business leaders explaining why they are voting for her. Most Minnesota voters ‘want their politicians to be problem-solvers, not ideologues,’ Klobuchar said to me.”

U.S. House of Representatives – Eric Paulson (R)
Like Klobuchar, Paulson is a centrist and a pragmatist. Like his predecessor and mentor, Jim Ramstad, he keeps his head down (and his face off FOX) and gets his work done. The same quote above about what Minnesotans want in their politicians applies to Paulson.

Minnesota Senate – Melissa Franzen (D)
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Franzen looks to be this very kind of politician, too. In the face of a brutal campaign against her by conservative PACs, she’s maintained her equanimity. She’s young (32), friendly toward business development (she’s a lawyer for Target Corp.), and she’s against the marriage amendment. Keith Downey, her opponent, is just the opposite; he’s a right-wing ideologue.

Minnesota House of Representatives – Terry Jacobsen (R)
I’ve met Jacobsen’s opponent, Paul Rosenthal, on the Little League field, and he lives two blocks from us. I have been very unimpressed with how he handled himself. Jacobsen, for her part, is committed to public education, and we need more Republicans who are serious about this issue to work with Democrats if we are ever to reform education.

Mayor of Edina – Jim Hovland (non-partisan)

Hovland is the incumbent, and he’s already held the office for 8 years. During his tenure, Edina has developed sensibly, redeveloped an aging infrastructure, and maintained its AAA bond rating when several surrounding cities have been downgraded. Edina’s public schools are among the best in the nation. And Hovland has led the City Council to be the fourth city in Minnesota — and the first suburb in the state — to set up a domestic partner registry; the Council under Hovland has also passed resolutions against both Minnesota constitutional amendments. For all its wealth and its supposed conservatism, and for its shameful history of sundown laws, Edina under Hovland has been a place of of welcome and inclusion.

Minnesota Marriage Amendment – No
I’ve blogged plenty about gay marriage, gay ordination, and gay rights, so my opinions should not be a surprise. This is an absolutely stupid amendment. 1) It is politically cynical: Republican legislators and consultants have admitted that they pushed this amendment in an effort to activate GOP-leaning voters in an incumbency presidential election. 2) It doesn’t trust the judicial branch: As an amendment supporter said in last night’s debate, “I trust Minnesotans, not the courts.” If you don’t trust the judicial branch of our government, you’ve got bigger problems than gay marriage. 3) It is a misuse of the constitution: A constitution is meant to protect and ensure rights, not to take them away. 4) It is a breach of wall of separation between church and state: A hallmark value of American democracy is that we do not legislate our religious convictions on the entire society, and that is clearly what is motivating people to support this amendment.

My greatest hope of this election is that Minnesota will be the first state to defeat a marriage amendment.

Minnesota Voter ID Amendment – No
Minnesota has consistently been known to have among the fairest elections in the country. There is no (or very little) cheating. This is a solution in search of a problem. We should be encouraging more citizens to vote, not discouraging them. Also, see number 3 above.

Agree or disagree (and feel free to do either or both in the comments!) I hope that those of you who are American readers will vote on Tuesday. Also, because of the election, I won’t be answering this week’s Questions That Haunt until next Friday.

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