My May 30, 2012, column from the Mille Lacs Messenger.
In part one of this column, written back in 2000, I shocked friend and foe alike by praising Dick Cheney, who had recently named himself George W. Bush’s running mate.
I recall seeing him on one of the Sunday talk shows and wishing liberals were as unashamed of their principles and as straightforward in their communication as Cheney was.
Although I regret saying anything positive about a man rightly compared to Lord Voldemort for his role in leading the nation into war and the economy into the toilet, I stand by my observation.
Love him or hate him, Cheney is a man of principle — even though I find his principles ranging from absurd to abhorrent.
I will now praise local Republicans for sticking to their principles when many in their party were abandoning theirs by voting in favor of the Vikings stadium proposal.
I have mixed feelings about public financing for the stadium. On one hand, I would like the Vikings to leave so I can stop having my heart broken. On the other hand, I’d be worried about an angry mob of 50,000 grown men in purple jerseys and blond braids with nothing to do on Sunday afternoons.
No matter how I try, though, I can’t see funneling 500 million tax dollars into a single private enterprise. In a sane society, that wouldn’t be an option, but in 21st Century America, it’s become a necessity for communities with professional sports teams.
The far left and far right agree that it’s wrong to subsidize a billionaire with tax dollars, but for different reasons. On the right, they don’t want tax increases for anything. On the left, they don’t mind a tax increase now and then, but not to allow a billionaire to make another billion.
The moderates in both parties chucked principle out the window to pander to a corporation and its legion of helmeted supporters in face paint.
But local Republicans, to their credit, stuck to their principles. District 16 Senator Dave Brown, District 16A Rep. Sondra Erickson, District 12 Senator Paul Gazelka, District 3B Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick and District 8B Rep. Roger Crawford all voted against the stadium proposal, demonstrating the integrity to walk their conservative talk.
Anyone Republican who voted for the measure no longer has the right to call himself or herself a small government conservative — although I’m certain many who voted for it will campaign as such.
And finally, a nod to Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack for introducing legislation that would get the feds’ fingers out of Mille Lacs. When the Coast Guard started making noise last year about licensing fishing guides, the resort and angling communities rightly balked. It might’ve made sense to consider Mille Lacs a navigable commercial waterway 100 years ago, but not anymore.
Was his opening-day press conference a bit of a publicity stunt? Sure, but that’s what politicians do.
Did his news release contain some exaggerations and inaccuracies? Well, yeah, like the statement that most fishing guides are college students.
Bottom line, though, is that it’s complicated enough around here with different tribal and state rules regarding the walleye harvest. The specter of yet another government getting involved unnecessarily in an industry that’s adequately regulated by the state makes no sense at all.
I happen to think Chip should move to New Hampshire with his family and run for office there, but until then, he should keep initiating common sense legislation as he did at Mille Lacs.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.