OK, so everyone’s still mad about everything, so let’s keep it up with the politics.
A couple of weeks back, a group of protesters pulled down the Christopher Columbus statue at the capital in Saint Paul. At first glance, it seemed to be another act of destruction in the rioting that has been happening since the inexcusable death of George Floyd. But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t, because the authorities at the state capital were informed several hours previously that the protesters intended on pulling down the statue. There was a plan in place, and it was publicly known. The state patrol, which are capital law enforcement, were ready to be sent out. The destruction could have been stopped. But it wasn’t stopped.
Instead, a group of capital leaders met with the leaders of the protest. Then, the state patrol stood to the side until the statue was brought down, then secured it shortly afterwards so that workers could remove the damaged statue and base to a storage facility.
The protesters were angry about racial injustices, and Columbus has been a frequent target for decades now, especially from Native American groups. In fact, MN Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, said afterwards; “I can’t say I’m sad the statue of Christopher Columbus is gone. I’m not.” (you can read a very good article on the incident here)
Now, I don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not the statue should have stayed at the capital. I want to talk about process here.
In life, there are right actions and wrong actions. Thats the way things work. But, there are also right ways to do right things, and wrong ways to do right things. This was the wrong way to do this, whether or not the act of removing the statue was right. It was the wrong way for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that there is a process to remove statues and pieces of art, and guess who is in charge of the group that oversees those monuments: MN Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan!
Across the nation people are upset about our current political climate. Approval ratings for our government officials are extremely low. People are constantly complaining about all kinds of things. But, the truth of the matter is that most people aren’t willing to do anything about it.
There is a way that things work. Our country operates by a two-party system. Each party breaks itself down from the national political organization to local precincts and caucuses. Starting at the bottom, candidates are endorsed, platforms are changed and priorities are set, and they move up the ladder to the national group. Change can happen slow, but when there is a wave of people pushing in the same direction it can change very quickly as well.
A quick aside: I really, really don’t want to be partisan on this, but I feel like it should be pointed out that most of the cities that have seen the most dramatic protests in the last several weeks, including Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Baltimore, have been under largely one-party control for decades. People are upset about the system, but they keep voting the same types of people with the same perspectives, with little or no diversity of political thought, over and over and over again. In Minneapolis, the city has been in a process of voting in candidates that are more and more and more liberal, year after year, and they keep demanding more and more of that liberal thought, yet it ends up being conservatives that get the finger pointed at them. I don’t get it.
People get upset about where our politics and our government is at, but as someone who has been involved at several levels of the political process with the Republican Party for many years, I can tell you that very few people are interested in the process. Precinct meetings are sparsely attended. Not that many votes are cast there. Most people wait until the final elections in November, which is probably something like Step 117 of the process, and then they complain about not having a voice in that process.
Don’t like the process? Fine – step up and get it changed. Make your voice heard. That’s why I’ve been a part of the process. My schedule isn’t lacking in things to do, but I’ve made it a priority because I want to help see good people put into positions of authority, and the local level is where it starts. I’ve stood up in front of rooms of strangers and campaigned against candidates that I didn’t believe would serve the people well, as well as actively push candidates that I feel will serve us well. This year, I sat out of the process in protest of decisions made by state leadership. Next year I’ll likely be back, trying again to help make our nation a better place.
It isn’t easy. It usually isn’t fun. There isn’t much one person can do. But I’ve met many men and women that share my beliefs and perspectives, that are working in the same spirit that I am. I also pray that there are those in the other party that are trying to do the same thing there.
We need to see changes made in our nation. Some of them are personal, some of them are cultural, and some of them are political. I hope that we are all committed to doing our part and putting in the time to affect positive changes, the right way, for the good of everyone.
A woman, to Benjamin Franklin: “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
Benjamin Franklin: “A republic, if you can keep it.”