What does it mean to be an American? To find the answer to this question, one does not need to look any further than the Constitution of the United States. There is a reason that we have the oldest continuously active Constitution in the world. Whereas, half of all constitutions die within the first twenty years of their existence; our Constitution is as vital as ever, 231 years after its ratification. The reason for this, I believe, is because it not only outlines a system of government, but it captures the essence of America’s identity – an identity of a free people.
The Constitution enshrines our values and our freedoms; one of which, is the freedom of speech. This guarantee, contained in the First Amendment to our Constitution, does something much more important than just guarantee our right to say whatever we feel like – it protects our right to disagree with each other, and with our elected officials. Can you imagine if this freedom was not protected? I am a Democrat, because of my perspective and because of the way I approach issues; but has the Democratic Party always been right about everything? Of course not! Does either party have all of the answers? Absolutely not!
There has always been a debate in this country between progressivism and conservatism, and that has been an asset in this country’s history, not a liability. That debate has been the engine of our Republic that has allowed us to progress as a society, while still not forgetting our roots, and who we are. That debate has allowed us to strike a balance between the security of the public and the liberties of the individual; between the needs of society and the rewards of entrepreneurship; and between being a positive member of the global community and also doing what is best for our people.
This does not need to change, but the way we treat each other does. We cannot go on thinking that people who have an opposing viewpoint, or who belong to the other political party are the “enemy!” They are not! We cannot allow the vitriol of Washington Politics and sensationalism of the media infect and divide our great state the way it has in Washington D.C. Our state is bipartisan, our people are informed, open-minded, and dedicated to their civic duties, and I am proud of that. In the recent past, that has been reflected by the sheer number of bipartisan bills that Minnesota has passed after much debating and compromise. This is how our government is supposed to work. It is that way by design, not by fault.
However, I am concerned as of late that the poison of Washington politics has seeped its way into St. Paul, as we all have seen over the course of the past few months. I firmly believe that the people of Minnesota will not stand for this! We are tired of the division! We know that when we actually talk to people that we disagree with, we find that they are not the “boogie-man” that the pundits and talking heads make them out to be, and that we often agree on far more than we disagree on. We know that, and we are ready to heal those divisions and start talking to each other again!
I encourage our state officials to remember what state they govern and heed our advice the next time they consider using Washington theatrics in St. Paul, and that advice is: KNOCK IT OFF!