News

Without a fight … not to try speaks volumes

The news that the DFL-led Senate caved into Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget proposal, and surrendered their principles without a fight, sends a huge message to people of color and to progressive Minnesotans.
The news that the DFL-led Senate caved into Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget proposal, and surrendered their principles without a fight, sends a huge message to people of color and to progressive Minnesotans.

In fact, it sends several messages, none of which are beneficial or reassuring to Black people, the poor, the elderly, and people of color, and non of which flatters White men and women who lead the party, in the eyes of people who believed the DFL embodied a spirit of inclusiveness that would leave no child behind.

By accepting Pawlenty’s budget, Senate DFL leaders are endorsing the deceptions being perpetrated by Republicans that there would be no tax increases, and that proposed tax cuts will benefit all Minnesotans.

Senate DFL leaders reportedly announced they fear Pawlenty is immovable on his "no tax increase" promise. They therefore decided it was not useful to fight on behalf of the voiceless who stand to suffer immeasurably by cuts.

Minnesota is not alone in facing fiscal crises. The approach to problem solving, however, is the most telling indicator of where the state and nation are headed.

Pawlenty/Bush fiscal philosophy and policy seek the formal, official erosion of civil and human rights protections through the instrument of budget cuts and tax cuts. That philosophy robs political and economic opportunity. It creates barriers to political enfranchisement, first for Black people and other people of color, then for average Americans who are handing over power to the ideological right by not resisting the dismantling of the government’s appropriate role in fighting poverty and protecting the less powerful.

Texas legislators last week responded to a Washington directed raw power grab by preventing a quorum in their state legislature. Had a quorum existed, the Republican-led Texas House would have passed Republican crafted legislative redistricting plans that would have turned at least five Congressional seats over to Republications without a fight.

The Washington-based power grab, we believe, emanates from the same core philosophy afoot in Minnesota, feistily championing dogmatic adherence to the ideological scam being labeled "no new taxes."

The Texas Democrats had guts. They walked. They said enough was enough.

They left the state, sequestering themselves across the state line in Ardmore, Oklahoma, preventing the quorum that would allow the Republican majority to "take" five congressional districts.

According to Dr. Jesse Jones, a Texas State Representative from the 110th Legislative District in Dallas, Texas, they, like Minnesota lawmakers, are wrestling with a huge budget deficit as well. Their Texas-sized budget shortfall is $10 billion. Like Minnesota, their state constitution requires that legislators not adjourn until the budget is balanced.

Throughout the session, Jones told Insight, "all the defenseless were hit hard: education, the elderly, the poor, Black and Latino development interests. Only the prison system didn’t get cut"

That the Democratic minority was constantly overrun by the Republican majority "was not unusual when the other group is in power," he said.

But on the issue of redistricting, the legislature, unable to reach agreement, became subject to a court drawn redistricting map, which was challenged up to the Supreme Court. "Lines were not the best," Jones said," but they met scrutiny, broadly."

But last week, toward the end of the session and after the long string of hard fought defeats, Jones said, Republican Congressman Tom DeLay who represents Texas District 22, sought to impose his political will and interests on the state legislature.

They fought.

"We accomplished our objective. Not a victor

May 19, 2003
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