Recent actions of our state legislature in Minnesota demonstrate the lack of respect so many politicians have for their own populace, as well as the fear they have of what would happen if those people really exercised their voice in our political system.
This past week, a bill was put forward in the Minnesota Senate to redefine a “major party” in our state. To qualify as a major party, which makes it far easier to appear on ballots and increases access to funding and other support, a party must (among other things) get at least a certain percentage of the vote in one or more statewide races within the last four years.
As it stood before this proposal, the bar was set at 5%. A lower threshold of 1% must be cleared to qualify for any campaign subsidies at all (money the state generously reserves the bulk of for the entrenched parties). This system of limiting choice along arbitrary lines already reduced most of the political parties in the state to having to undergo (often prohibitively expensive or time consuming) petitioning processes merely to be considered an option on the ballot, compared to a simple filing fee for the so-called ‘major parties.’ But recently, a few more voices than usual had been breaking through. From looking at SF1827, which aims to double that 5% bar to 10%, that is a situation the entrenched parties now intend to further suppress.
Rather than get into the weeds on percentages or other requirements here, though, I invite you to read MN Statutes 2022 Section 200.02 for yourself, with special attention to Subdivisions 7 and 23, which define “Major political party” and “Minor political party” in quite detailed and specific terms, showing just how many roadblocks are already in place.
Let us acknowledge the intention behind ‘strengthening’ these requirements in the present moment: the fear of dissent. We exist in a political system which rewards majorities and subordinates the will of the rest. Many argue the mere presence of additional choices somehow enables ‘the Other Side to win’ when they otherwise would lose. I would like to posit that, instead, it is all of us who lose when those options are taken off the table.
The entrenched parties rely on the ‘lesser of two evils’ mentality to get away with ever-increasing degrees of complacency, lies, corruption, and failure to address their own constituents’ issues and concerns. Deny them that tool, that weapon they so often grab to beat back dissent within their own ranks. Call out now for these restrictive measures to be reduced instead of bolstered. Demand more options, more choices, and more of a voice on voting day. Most importantly, hold your elected officials to account for the actions they take (and do not take). Do not let them merely decry the Other Side to retain their seat.
Note: This was written by a member of the LPMN and does not necessarily reflect the views of our organization.