Friday, May 26, 2006

A note for Governor Pawlenty 

Dear Sir, I got last night in the mail your letter that was sent to delegates and alternates seeking the endorsement. A full page of the two-pager is devoted to your accomplishments. Fine, sir, but it's not like I've been asleep the last four years. I know what you've done, and I know you've done some things I like, some things I really like, and some things I really don't like. And I'm willing to accept that you haven't had the political backing to do all the things you promised to do, that Dean Johnson and Larry Pogemiller and their sycophantic supporters at the STrib have kept you from moving the ball as far down the field as we would have liked. Maybe things could have been done better, maybe you could have gotten more in the compromises of the last two years. But heck, what do I know? You're the governor, I just run some academic department out here in airport tour-land.

What I want to know is what you'll do in the next four years. What will you stand for. Here's what you told me in your letter:
If the Minnesota we all believe is possible is to ever become a reality, we must persist.

We have to put a stop to taxpayer-funded abortions and pass a constitutional amendment to protect marriage.

We must continue to reform education by paying teachers for performance, not just seniority and by making sure the hard-earned money we send to schools actually makes its way to classrooms.

We need to get serious about dealing with illegal immigration and facilitate the legal immigration our economy needs.

We have to continue to address the evolving challenges of methamphetamines and sex offenders. They're threats to our communities and our families and we need to deal with them head on.
Excuse me, Governor, but I was looking for something more. Not that any of those items on your list are unimportant. But what unifies this? What are your core beliefs? What is the one principle you will not sacrifice no matter what? (I hate to ask that, sir, but after the last two years the question crosses my mind more than once.)

Not only was I looking for more, I thought I'd see something about the crushing burden of government. As Doug Williams pointed out a few days ago, the recent Economic Freedom Index from the Pacific Research Institute -- some fine conservative and libertarians work there; I have published with them myself -- ranks Minnesota 44th of the fifty states in economic freedom, down one from 2003. Yet nary a word about that in your goals except to declare you are "holding government accountable to the taxpayers of Minnesota." Someone who provides me an itemized bill for $120 for dinner for two without a second bottle of wine has been "accountable". He's also asking me to pay a helluva lot for a meal.

Do you have any plans to address this?

I got this second letter in the very same mail, from some woman who says if she was elected governor she would "Remove MN from the list of the top ten highest taxed states in the nation." She also supports TABOR. Now you can try to convince me that TABOR isn't the best way to go on this, but it makes a statement. I know what that woman stands for. What I am reading from you is a passel of things you want to do, a task list.

I don't want a task list. I want a vision. If you finish the task list by 2008, what will be the vision that guides the rest of your term as governor? That's important. Without it people can get talked into all kinds of stuff.

Like stadiums.

I'm very much looking forward to hearing your vision, sir. See you next weekend.

King Banaian, SD 15 (alternate)

P.S. If you need help on getting that vision down to sound bite size, you could just buy Hugh's shirt. And remember, state officeholders don't have primary responsibility for three of those five. Focus on the other two.