Al Franken and the Minnesota Shutdown

Posted on July 9, 2011 by

When Saturday Night Live and Air America celeb Al Franken was finally declared the winner - by a whisker – of the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota, democrats achieved their “filibuster-proof majority.”  (A few months later, of course, we surrendered that exalted status when we lost the Ted Kennedy seat in Massachusetts to republican Scott Brown). 

Franken has been low-profiling this early phase of his political career.  Maybe that’s smart.  But compare him to recently elected Kentucky republican Rand Paul – who has already threatened to filibuster every bill until democrats agree to eviscerate the federal budget – and Al seems almost invisible.

So while we might be willing to cut some slack to Sen. Franken until he gets his legs, I’m curious why the outspoken comic / commentator turned legislator has been publicly mum on the crisis in his home state. 

The Minnesota government shutdown is a pivotal standoff between democratic governor Mark Dayton and a republican-majority state legislature.  The conflict has national implications with Dayton calling for a slight increase in taxes on the wealthy and his opponents refusing to give any ground on the issue. 

I googled minnesota / shutdown / franken and couldn’t find any meaningful match.  (I know, he’s probably working it behind the scenes.) 

But the larger question is what happens to our side when we get elected?  From our president on down, democrats seem to evaporate once they’re in power.  As if Vermont Independent (socialist) Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only voice in congress telling it like it is. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton is holding on and Minnesota state employees are going broke. 

Come on Al - at the very least – put in a kind word for those suffering workers.

Comments (7)


  1. Goetz Wolff says:

    Implicit in your concern has to be the practical fact: how do do we create and maintain an electorate that is as sophisticated (and apparently, class conscious or concerned) as Vermont has? It all goes back to who is your base?

  2. Henry Walton says:

    “…democrats seem to evaporate once they’re in power.” What power? How many have ever embraced the power offered to them by the voters? While in the majority they compromise, when they are the opposition they are too fearful to oppose. I believe we, the people, need a democratic party that will at least put on the gloves and get in the ring.

  3. Gavin says:

    Makes me think of what the Dems need is an old fashioned version of the Chicago style machine nationwide – at least the model works.

    If we cannot keep our group intact, we are not doing something right.

    Education helps but by itself it is not the single solution. I find a well organized machine works well too – look at the success of L.A. County Fed’s efforts.

    I never thought I would be wishing for more moderate politics, but given the current climate…..

  4. Alan K. says:

    Democrats have yet to read and heed George Lakoff i.e. that they have to ‘frame’ the debate through language. Once it was good enough to just govern well; now it is a necessity to trumpet it and let everyone know what you’re doing and why. And, frame it in simple, direct language. It’s not enough to think that the people will see it and get it. They have to be actively won over.

    Your question for Al Franken is good and valid but, if you haven’t seen the documentary HOT COFFEE you should. There Al Franken is working hard to expose and circumvent the corporate wet dream of binding arbitration, a device they have insinuated into the American judicial system to usurp individual’s rights to a trial by jury to seek redress from injury, torts et al. visited upon them by corporations–and, by this, insulating these entities from behaving responsibly in the society and marketplace.

  5. Larry says:

    Good article Lou and it may be the push that Al needs. I have to believe that he is working in a very important manner behind the scenes that will hopefully prove just as worthwhile. I haven’t written Al off yet by any means.

  6. Poignant, concise and observant, how the genius of Lou glimmers! “As if Vermont Independent (socialist) Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only voice in congress telling it like it is.”

    Truth To Power

  7. AShields says:

    Franken might be in over his head! (shades of Shwarzenegger) Maybe he is worried about his secret love child! I think California will shut down its government too, but not before obama has to shutdown the federal government. This is a wall street goverment hopefully Obama’s Ivy League connections will help him twist some political arms!

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