One of the questions that every voter should be asking themselves as they head to the polls next Tuesday is whether to vote on the status of the country, the state, or their community today, or on where they would like things to be in a year, in five years, or a decade from now.
The future is the only thing that those we elect this Tuesday can control, and that future may well look different depending on the decisions we make. We should be asking, what are the challenges facing our communities and which party’s candidates are most likely to positively address those issues?
When we hear local leaders in our communities, we hear about the lack of affordable housing. We hear about the lack of access to childcare, which is keeping many parents from entering a job market that is desperate for workers. We hear about the need for good jobs, mental health care, quality schools, and a high quality of life that will attract new residents and new businesses to the area.
All of these things require investment to address and given the continuing lack of much private investment capital in our region, that means investment by government sources. As we reported recently, public and private investment is likely to help significantly increase childcare slots in Ely, perhaps as early as next spring. Public investment made it possible for Ely to complete a major upgrade to the public schools and is funding a new trailhead facility to welcome visitors. Public and private investment in Tower has brought big improvements to the city’s Main Street and helped a promising manufacturing company expand and nearly quadruple its work force. Public dollars, along with volunteers, have created awesome new trails that improve quality of life and boost visitation.
Public and private investment has brought, or is in the process of bringing, ultra-fast broadband to many parts of our region and is upgrading infrastructure in numerous other communities here in the North Country.
These major new investments were made possible by the political decisions we’ve made in the past. Whether such investments are made in the future will depend on the choices we make on Tuesday.
There’s been a lot of political noise and spin tossed at area voters during the campaign, and more than the usual amount ended up in our mailboxes this year, virtually all of it intended to distract us from the things that really matter.
The price of gas at the pump is one such example. Given that none of our leaders, either at the federal, state, or local level, have any significant control over the price of a global commodity like oil, no informed voter would base their vote on such an indicator. It’s like voting based on the wind direction on Election Day.
While some have blamed President Biden for his decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, that decision had no impact on the price of oil, the price of gas at the pump, or U.S. oil production. Those are facts. The pipeline, which never operated, was built to ship Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast, two-thirds of which was destined for export. It had no impact on U.S. production of oil, which has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. remains a net exporter of petroleum despite the empty political rhetoric to the contrary.
The bottom-line question, though, is which party’s policies will lead to improvement in our communities— now and in the future. We know that Democratic candidates have and will continue to support the kind of investments in our communities that have brought recent improvements and will continue to do so, despite the global challenges posed by a pandemic and a major war in Ukraine.
Republicans have made it clear what they support— tax cuts for corporations and the rich, at the expense of public investment. But don’t take our word for it. GOP leaders have already said that’s a top priority even though tax cuts are a pump-priming policy that will worsen inflation and the deficit, while doing nothing for our communities. Republicans have no have ideas for improving northeastern Minnesota, just empty rhetoric about “fighting for our way of life.” So, they try to distract low information voters with gas prices and their interminable, phony culture wars.
We have one party, despite its flaws, that’s demonstrated a legitimate interest in governing for the betterment of our communities. A party that doesn’t bury its head in the sand when it comes to climate change or pretend that putting ever more guns on the street is the solution to gun violence. A party that believes medical decisions should be between you and your doctor, not up to politicians. Consider the future— all of our futures, when you go to vote next Tuesday.
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