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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Great Letter to the Editor in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal

The letter writer is from Perham, a rural community in Otter Tail County. The overall political orientation would be conservative.

Ask who is talking about issues voters really care about

When you vote on Nov. 7, keep in mind the following:

l. The barebones budget for a family of four in Otter County is $40,380 according to the JobsNow Coalition. (This allows nothing for retirement planning, vacations, and the like.)

2. For a family of four with two working parents to be able to meet that budget, each parent would have to make $9.71 per hour.

About 37 percent of the jobs in Otter Tail County pay less than that amount. And that amount is about $3.50 per hour over Minnesota's minimum wage.

3. The cost of health care has increased by over 50% in the past five or six years.

4. The cost of attending a public college or university in Minnesota has increased by over 35 percent while Pawlenty has been governor.

These are some of the stark realities that we face in our area. While both parties say that they care about these things, their actions say otherwise.

It is the Republicans who have been saying for several years “no new taxes.”

To some degree they have succeeded. The results of their “success” include hundreds of millions of dollars in increased "fees," the dramatically higher cost of a higher education in Minnesota, real estate taxes that are up by 58 percent from 2002, fewer people on Minnesota Care, and so on.

Republicans seem to prefer to distract us from these realities by directing our attention to “values.”

But, as we have been recently reminded, no group — not even the most outspokenly righteous Republicans — has a corner on virtue and values.

Republicans are just as flawed as everyone else. As Al Franken has been fond of saying recently to the Republicans, “don't lecture me on values!”

Some evangelical Christians have begun to voice some concerns regarding what is happening in their churches.

Evangelical pastor Gregory Boyd (of the Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood, Minn.) wrote in the October 22 Minneapolis Tribune that “the evangelical church in our country has been hijacked by politics.”

Self-described “values voter” Dick Armey, Republican Majority Leader of the House of Representatives in Washington until about 2002, has recently said that “too many of our Christian leaders fail to recognize the temptation to power and the danger it holds for our society and our faith.” (He referred to evangelical leader James Dobson as a “bully.”)

So, when you vote, think about the economic realities that we face and how overwhelming they are for many. Democratic candidates are collectively more willling to address those realities which have such a negative impact on the opportunities that are truly available to our children and on the long-term quality of life in Minnesota. Republicans, on the other hand, seem still to be collectively controlled and driven by a social agenda that polarizes us and distracts us from those issues that our political system is really designed to address.

To quote Republican “values voter” Dick Armey once again, “the Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills.”

Remember that when you vote on Nov. 7.

John Minge