Editor’s note: Welcome back to Capitol Retort, our weekly review of issues in state and national news, with a rotating cast of local characters. Answers have been edited for length and clarity but not unity. Any instances of agreement are accidental.
Question 1: What if anything does Britain’s exit from the European Union tell you about how Minnesotans might vote this year?
Joshua Crosson, advocacy manager, MinnCAN, the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now: If Minnesota’s Republican presidential primary showed us anything, it was that Minnesota’s right strongly rejects the nationalist populism and anti-immigrant sentiment that “the bad hair who shall not be named” is constantly spewing. Brexit proves that the ignorant isolationists can and do win, but I have faith that Minnesotans are waking up and challenging these values and anyone who represents them.
Sarah Janecek, lobbyist and former publisher of Politics in Minnesota: People are tired of politics as usual. On the other hand, people like their local legislators. I don’t think it applies to any legislative races. I think it bodes really well for Trump. And Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have got to be so grateful they’re not up for election this year.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis: The Brexit vote gives us an opportunity to reflect on the parallels [with] what’s going on in our country. The economy isn’t functioning well for a lot of people. As leaders, as people who care about shared prosperity and making sure that we’re building a strong and successful middle class and we’re sharing the prosperity that’s generated our economy — that’s the lesson we can draw. I don’t think there’s any direct correlation to how people [in Minnesota] will vote. But it tells us that polling is wildly inaccurate.
Question 2: Democrats held a sit-in on the U.S. House floor to demand a vote on gun reforms. Rep. Keith Ellison says he might bring that tactic back home. Is this tactic welcome or worrisome?
Janecek: It is worrisome. Congress is the establishment. They are elected to go fix the problems, not to have attention-getting events. I can’t believe there’s not greater outrage about that. Actually, it’s a major indicator of ineffectiveness. What are you protesting? You’re protesting what you’re part of.
Crosson: I love seeing tactics of civil disobedience in our highest levels of government. I only wish the sit-in would have lasted longer. And sometimes, people have to be creative to get the public’s and policymakers’ attention. We should all be so bold to call out their inaction [on the proliferation of guns and gun violence]. Disruption for the sake of making needed progress is always OK with me.
Dibble: It was fantastic.I was thrilled and electrified by them taking such a strong stand and really creating a media moment around gun safety, common-sense gun laws, and highlighting the dysfunction of Congress. The Republicans are completely captive to corporate interests like the gun manufacturers. It was a response to a tragedy perpetrated against my community but also the daily tragedy that’s been going on for many years, and a complete repudiation of these empty prayers and moments of silence. Can members of Congress do this all the time? No. The only resolution is to start electing reasonable people to Congress who are interested in solving real problems in people’s lives.
Question 3: What was your most memorable Fourth of July?
Janecek: Sitting on the Massachusetts Turnpike, with a broken-down Isuzu Trooper when it was 95 degrees. My late husband was being treated for bladder cancer out in Boston, so we did a bunch of trips back and forth. We were trying to get home to get to the lake to be with my family.
Crosson: Starting off as a joke, my friends and I rented a lake cabin in a small town that was known for its local Fourth of July parades. We decked ourselves in full red, white and blue from our shoes to our painted faces. One friend wore a hotdog costume and handed out American flags to the kids. The day ended with us playing touch football with some locals. It was probably the most Lake Wobegon Fourth of July I’ve ever experienced.
Dibble: I was in marching band in high school and loved marching in our Fourth of July parade. Our style of marching was very vigorous, and we wore super-heavy wool uniforms. I loved marching but I hated sweating to death. The other is, paradoxically, being out of the country on the Fourth of July when I was an exchange student, appreciating what it meant to be American on that day when you couldn’t be in your own country celebrating. I was kind of sad and lonely, but it brought home the meaning of my country to me.
Question 4: What are you doing this Fourth of July?
Janecek: The traditional turkey on the Weber grill with the family on the lake. I’m hoping that someone’s gonna make a run for fireworks, because I refuse to go to town to watch the fireworks and get eaten alive [by mosquitoes]. I don’t even know what [fireworks are] legal and what’s not legal; that’s a guy thing.
Crosson: I’ve been recovering from an overwhelming wedding season, so this Fourth of July we’ll be keeping it easy. You can never go wrong with a backyard barbecue and blowing things up in the street. Actually, I take that back, sometimes that can go wrong. To everyone who reads this, please be safe.
Dibble: Very standard issue. We have some small neighborhood parades. So we’ll probably run around to one or more of those. Probably won’t be in them, but I’ll just go and see some neighbors during the day. But then have a little cookout in our backyard and go see some fireworks afterwards.