Monday, March 16, 2009

Minnesota - The Land of 10,000 Lawsuits

One of my favorite radio programs is Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, which is funny and entertaining and derives a lot of its fun from its satirization of the joys of living in the little town of Lake Woebegone, Minnesota ("where the men are strong, the women are good-looking, and the children are above average"). If you're looking for some good-natured fun, it's the show to listen to.

There are other things about the state of Minnesota, though, that I find a lot less entertaining and fun, such as the endless wrangling over the results of the closest, most bitterly contested senatorial election in American history.

For those of you living outside the United States who may not be aware of the backstory, here's the Readers' Digest version: Democrat Al Franken opposed Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota's senatorial election last November, and the initial results were - quite literally - too close to call. While it appeared that Mr Coleman was the winner, the vote was so close (477 votes out of some 2 million cast) that a recount was conducted. This was duly completed, and showed that Mr Franken was actually the a margin of 225 votes. You can see an interactive graphic of the recount saga from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here.

As you might suspect, both sides of the issue are desperate to win this contest. The Republicans are happy to tie the case up endlessly in court as a way of limiting the size of the Democratic majority in the Senate, while the Democrats are equally anxious to improve their position. The result is an unsettled election which leaves the people of Minnesota with only one senator in an ongoing political circus.

This is stupid.

Yes, it's important to ensure the integrity of the election process and the proper counting of votes. Yes, I understand the political motives driving each party's position.

But it's still stupid.

The only real winner here is the lawyers. Can you imagine how much money is being made by the army of lawyers carefully examining and arguing over every single ballot? Now, can you imagine how many schools could be improved with the same money? Or how many other public services could be sustained or improved? The political bosses care very much about keeping this case going as long as possible, although the people of Minnesota are starting to get understandably frustrated about it, arguing that there are a lot of problems Congress needs to be working on, and they are at a disadvantage as long as they have only one working Senator (Note: I use the term working Senator with my tongue buried deep in my cheek)

There's no end to this three-ring political circus in sight. Both sides are ready to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, regardless of the effect on the critical business of the people. If you needed a better example of the shameless corruption of the political system in this country, you'd be hard-pressed to find it.

Note to all those #$! lawyers, and to the Republican and Democratic political bosses: you had your recount. One guy won, one guy lost. Shake hands, move on, and show the people of Minnesota and the rest of the country that you can solve the nation's problems, not compound them.

Of course, I'm not holding my breath. And, unfortunately, neither should you. Vote for your favorite contestant on Dancing with the Stars - you know where they stand, and they wear better costumes.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

You mean they haven't ended that election? Oh sweet mother of god

Melissa B. said...

But remember...this is the state that elected Jesse Ventura as its governor, too!

Mike said...

More importantly, why was the count wrong by 700 votes? You would think that in the days of super computers that .... nevermind. What was I thinking?

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Thanks for telling us outside the US this weird story. US politics is fun!

SusieQ said...

The land of 10,000 lawsuits. Ha! That's funny!

You would think in this technologically advanced society of ours we could find a foolproof way to vote so that there is no mistaking who won.