Taking talking points from the increasingly extreme ideology of its national party, the Minnesota GOP spends a great deal of time talking about how rural Minnesota is left behind by the interests of the big cities.
They say the Twin Cities are evil places where crime is rampant while their Democratic opponents do nothing. They say fat cat politicians spend too much on office buildings which nonetheless are often enjoyed in bipartisan fashion.
Recent events have allowed the GOP leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt to jump on Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz and twist the narrative for recent racial unrest to their political advantage. That goes too far and doesn’t seem right.
Rural Minnesota doesn’t need more divisiveness among its state leaders, whoever is driving the usually false or misleading narrative that plays well on unchecked and unhinged “anti-social media.”
Rural Minnesota can be described as a collection of beautiful farm, forest and prairie landscapes dotted with small and medium sized towns where people cooperate for a better, albeit quieter, life.
Government is rural Minnesota is nonpartisan, and more important, extremely effective.
Here’s what rural Minnesota does need:
It needs clean water and subsidized wastewater systems.
It needs good government that gets state and federal subsidies to provide a life that provides a solid base of services but few luxuries.
It needs good roads that can support more traffic and heavier trucks that serve the backbone of farm country from the grain elevators to the ethanol plants.
It needs investment in higher education, including funds to fix crumbling buildings, to support the 30 or so Minnesota State campuses located in outstate Minnesota.
Rural Minnesota needs support for nursing homes and elderly housing, as the population in rural Minnesota is aging.
Rural Minnesota deserves support from the state because it offers residents another place to live that doesn’t include crowded cities with people living on top of each other and the resulting social disorders that come with that. We’ve seen how valuable open spaces can be in the COVID-19 era.
So we would urge legislators, particularly those Republicans who claim outstate as their constituency, to go far beyond what they’ve been willing to spend in the past on investments in rural Minnesota.
That means supporting a bigger bonding bill than the $1.35 billion compromise bill when Democrats wanted $2 billion or more.
It means releasing federal election money and not holding it up in a committee whose chairwoman makes ideological arguments about nonexistent voter fraud.
It means fully funding the Minnesota State system request for crumbling buildings and updating technology to support a system where employers harvest a treasure trove of talented workers.
It means supporting police reforms to reduce deadly force encounters, 60 percent of which took place in outstate Minnesota during the last five years.
We’ve often pointed to leaders in the state GOP who have proposed compromise solutions on gun safety and other important issues, so we ask the GOP to look to them if they must tout a political victory above policy compromise.
Rural Minnesota doesn’t need more divisiveness, and it doesn’t need talking points devised to drive a rural/urban election narrative. Rural Minnesota needs investments, problem solving and results.