The Pawnshop Party | Steve Sack
by Steve Timmer
Jan 5, 2013, 9:00 AM

Republican correspondence 9

Dear Mr. Shortridge,

Thanks for your letter; I am a Republican, even though many people say I am not. It hardly matters; you need the advice more than I need the RPM.

There are so many places this letter could start, but let’s begin with the budget. Truly, the budget is the beginning, middle, and it may be the end of Minnesota as we know it. That is, if we continue to be in thrall of the parade of pikers and scrubs who currently provide the intellectual horsepower for the Republican Party. If I am not a Republican, believe me, it isn’t me who has moved much.

Somebody said recently that the state budget is a moral document; it may have been religious leaders. It doesn’t matter who said it: it’s true. But it is more than that. It is a statement about a view of the future — or whether there will be one — and whether we’re willing to be stewards of it. There is scant evidence that “stewardship” is in the current Republican lexicon. The party of conserving things and of fiscal responsibility does and is neither. In fact, “looters” is the description that comes to mind.

Who hasn’t watched two terms under Governor Pawlenty of looting the Health Care Access Fund to balance the general fund budget? Like a common pirate. (And then trying to kick people off of Minnesota Care because it is too expensive, an effort that the likes of the preacher, David Hann, continue) Or stood agape while the tobacco settlement monies, intended for anti-smoking education and the health care expenses of smokers that the state will bear in the future, were sold by Kurt Zellers — that heedless, aging frat boy — for a bag of beans? And most stupendously, observed with horror as K12 and higher education were short changed to the tune of billions of dollars?

If you had told me about this coming performance back when I was in the Minnesota House of Representatives, I would have laughed and called you a misguided prophet; I might have even called you a fool.

There is blame to go around, all right, but the Republicans bear the greater share. The DFL may have been careless of the public interest, but at least they recognize there is one.

Instead of public morality, the Republican party gives us pseudo-religious moralism and Jim Crow.

But given the RPM’s champions these day, how could it be otherwise?

Minnesota has not produced anyone like Michele Bachmann since Elmer Gantry was spun from the imagination of Sinclair Lewis; in some ways Gantry is a more believable character. Bachmann, “the lady in decline,” has parlayed the extremism of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy — along with a makeup trowel — into the Republican party’s most successful fund raiser. There is no greater hapless grandstander in my memory, and astonishingly, it works on the party faithful. Weep for the future of the GOP. I do.

But special contempt must be reserved for Allen Quist, a “wonderful, wonderful guy — one of the great intellectuals of the 21st century.” But he’s the guy in whose footsteps Michele Bachmann tread, a man who tried to parlay his “prowling through dirty bookstores” into an effort to unseat a sitting Republican governor.

Allen was the “tip of the [wingnut] spear,” all right, or the blunt end of the club; I’m not sure which. One of the truly negative side effects of high corn prices — which Quist undoubtedly attributes to God — is the fact he could afford to run for Congress this fall and will probably run for the Legislature to fill Terry Morrow’s vacant seat.

Anyway, until the RPM throws off the yoke of the Clown Princess and Prince, it won’t go anywhere.


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