Friday, November 16, 2012

My Town and the 2012 Election

It’s one thing to see that Minnesota voted for Obama for President and that it returned our Democratic Senator back to Washington, but I always wonder how my own town voted on these election questions. It normally depresses me, but I need to come to grips with it after each election.
by Charlie Leck

I live in Independence, a small semi-suburban and semi-rural community at the far western edge of the Metropolitan Region of the Twin Cities. The majority of the people who live out here are extremely conservative politically, either because they are very rich or stubbornly Republican. So, I go to the polls each election year to vote for the losing team – except in the cases of non-partisan community leadership votes in off-year elections. In those I generally vote for winners.

Minnesota Marriage Amendment
For instance, in this year’s election a constitutional amendment question was very important to me. It was an amendment that would have redefined marriage as between only one man and one woman. To my great happiness the amendment failed to get the 50 percent of the vote they needed to pass the measure. It was opposed statewide by about 54 percent of the voters; yet, here in my town nearly 59 percent of those who voted were in favor of the amendment. I shoulda figured!

For President
My town voted heavily for Mitt Romney. Over 65 percent of my neighbors preferred Romney to President Obama. That, of course is a remarkable landslide number, beating Obama by 20 percentage points. It depresses me. I’d like to know my neighbors better so that I could understand what they’re thinking and why.

For the U.S. Senate
I live in a liberal state and the voters reelected Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate by a landslide. Her name is regularly mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016. I really like her and I’m an avid supporter. Senator Klobuchar lost in my town. She got less than 47 percent of the vote. Bummer!

For the U.S. House of Representatives
Our congressman out here is Erik Paulsen, a serious conservative who has been among those who have stalled the Congress and failed to cooperate with the President. He didn’t have a serious opponent in this election and he won by more than 73 percent of the vote – a super landslide.

It’s no different. It’s been this way for the twenty-some years that I’ve voted out here and for the thirty-some years that we’ve owned this property. They voted big for Richard Nixon and, I imagine, they’re still very proud of it. My neighbors were big George W. Bush supporters and you couldn’t convince any of them that it was Bush who drove us into deep national debt rather than President Obama. Out here, they thought John McCain was the absolute cat’s meow! They also thought that Mitt Romney really cared about them.

You know, I nevertheless still really like all these folks – well, at least most of them – and I’d like to understand them better. I’d also like them to understand me better, but neither of these things is going to happen. It’s difficult to talk to most of the neighbors about politics. They’re way too attached to the Rush Limbaugh Show and they won’t give it up in order to have a little conversation with a neighbor.

I like doing things for my town. I try to volunteer to help with projects and work on little tasks. I’ve always been involved in the Harvest Festival and I will be in the future. I help out with the food shelf needs. I designed a letterhead for the city (that I think looks pretty neat). I helped build a little garden in front of city hall years ago. It’s been improved since way back then, but those of us who did it planted the idea anyway. I like standing up there in the northwest corner of town when the Canadian Pacific’s Christmas Train rolls through with the holiday music blaring and the beautiful, decorative lights covering the entire train. I’m very supportive of our terrific police department and the volunteer fire department and I try to cooperate with them when they’re on a venture or trying to raise funds.

In spite of these election results, I love this little town with its winding creeks and rolling meadows. I’d love to get the President to come on up here so I could show him around. I’d take him to Lake Rebecca and then to lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn. I’d drive him by a few of the beautiful horse farms and the Polo Grounds. I’d tell him about Wheelock Whitney – one of our town’s most remarkable citizens and one of Minnesota’s most generous guys (and a life-long Republican) and a good friend of mine. We could have an after-work gathering at City Hall, where folks could get to know America’s first African-American president and an astonishingly nice guy.

I’m really happy about the way the election turned out. I wish my neighbors were, too.

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