You may or may not know this, but there is an election coming up in a few days. There's so little news about it and all that, I can understand if you were unaware.
I've never had a tougher decision to make in an election than the one I'm facing this year in the Minnesota Governor's race. A couple of years ago, I was saying that I would vote for anyone from the DFL (Democrat-Farm-Labor party in Minnesota, 'cause you know, we have to be different) who was running against our current governor.
Turns out I was wrong about that. The DFL's candidate for governor is Mike Hatch, Minnesota's Attorney General. Now, Hatch has done some good things as attorney general, I don't dispute that. Some of it smacked as political; aimed at increasing his visibility in preparation for running for governor. He's not the only one who does that, I know, and it's fine.
However, his campaign has really turned me off. Hatch really comes off as a pandering tool. There are scenes of him hunting and toting a gun in some of his campaign ads. I'm not against hunting; many of my male relatives hunt. It just comes off as trying to hard.
Worse, though, is his lameass support of capital punishment. He said in this MPR piece:
For Mike Hatch, the issue is less clear. He supports the concept of capital punishment and says there are some criminals who do not deserve to live. But Hatch is concerned that too many innocent people have been wrongly executed in death penalty states.
"I would have no hesitation supporting a death penalty, if I thought there was a statute that could guarantee certainty with regard to the conviction," Hatch said. "But I have not found that statute yet."
That is such a cop out. First of all, he didn't seem to be in favor of capital punishment in 1994. But the position he has now is trying to be too many things to too many people. He knows that there is no way to guarantee certainty, and that the chances of the death penalty being reinstated in Minnesota are pretty slim. So, he can say he's in favor of it now, without having to worry too much about it actually happening on his watch or otherwise. So, maybe I shouldn't worry about it? I know the chances of the death penalty coming back in Minnesota aren't that good. But there is still the matter of principle here. I absolutely do not respect his stance, because he really isn't taking one.
Hatch has also jumped on the immigrant-bashing bandwagon. The catalyst has been the Minnesota Dream Act. The act would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition for Minnesota colleges. These are kids whose parents brought them to the U.S. These kids have attended Minnesota schools. The act doesn't cost anything, yet Hatch is against it (as is Pawlenty, shocker!). How is giving these kids an opportunity to go to college a bad thing?
And now most recently, Hatch has accused Pawlenty of "beating up on a woman" for attacking Hatch's running mate, Judi Dutcher. Dutcher couldn't answer a question about E-85 on a campaign stop. Her response to the question seems to indicate that she just didn't quite catch what was asked. Of course, the Republicans will make a big deal out of it, but what else is new? Hatch's response, though? I find it pretty offensive. His response seems to indicate that he thinks she's inferior because she's a woman. And just when you thought things couldn't get any worse: Hatch calls reporter a "Republican whore."
Given all of this, I've been strongly leaning toward voting for Peter Hutchinson, from the Independent Party. I've had friends, a DFL door knocker and God knows who else, essentially tell me that I'm throwing my vote away.
I know Hutchinson doesn't have a chance. I know the race between Hatch and Pawlenty is tight. So, now I'm supposed to make my vote politically strategic as opposed to make it a statement of my values, of my conscience? I always thought that one of the most important ways to make our collective voice heard was by stepping into the voting booth and making a choice. Now, I'm supposed to ignore some pretty big things and vote for someone who makes my stomach turn, so we can get an even more evil douchebag out of office? How do we ever make a change, if that's the case? If I don't vote for the person who I really believe is the best choice to lead the state, what's the point?
At this point, I'm still not sure what I'll do on Election Day. Do I go with my conscience and vote Hutchinson? If I do that and Hatch loses to Pawlenty, will I feel guilty about helping damn Minnesota to another four years of decline? If I vote for Hatch and he wins, will I feel dirty? Or will I at least be able to say, "He may not be the best choice, but hey: he's not Pawlenty." That doesn't seem like much of a consolation.