Kevin Winge

Kevin Winge is a native of Minnesota. He lives in San Francisco, California where he is is the executive director of Project Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people living with disease. Read more about Kevin Winge.

Coleman vs. Franken: Where’s Solomon When You Need Him?

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: February 18, 2009 - 10:35 PM

I’m a fan of both theater and politics so I was not one of those who complained about the 2008 election process being too drawn out. With players on the national stage like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin; and then in Minnesota with candidates like El Tinklenberg challenging Michele Bachmann, and the three-way race between Barkley, Coleman, and Franken, who could ask for better political theater? Even the dragged-out Coleman and Franken race didn’t bother me initially. I used the recount as an example of why every vote really does matter and the court maneuverings as proof of democracy in action. But that was November. And December. And January. Now it’s the middle of February and while the Coleman/Franken contest is still the best theater in town, it’s time to bring the curtain down on this race.

Granted, there is a lot at stake. This may be Norm Coleman’s last chance to save his political career, and it may be Al Franken’s only chance to launch his. Certainly, the Republican minority does not want to lose one more vote in the Senate, and the Democratic majority would like to be one vote closer to the filibuster-proof number of 60. But here is when I tire of politics and I long for leadership.

We have run out of adjectives and adverbs to adequately describe the dismal economy. The two wars we are engaged in are only now getting more attention as we prepare to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. The failed healthcare system and the failing educational system seem to be afterthoughts in light of more pressing concerns. And instead of having two U.S. Senators in Washington who are representing us and engaging in discourse on the critical issues of the day, we have one.

Norm Coleman and Al Franken each captured about 42% of the vote – not a ringing endorsement of either candidate – but enough for each to make their case for going to Washington. I don’t know how any sitting judge, no matter how qualified and wise, can render a decision that will please everyone. If ever there was a time for Solomon, it is now.

In my fantasy courtroom, Norm Coleman and Al Franken would personally make their case before Solomon. Solomon would suggest that they divide the six-year term into two, with each man pulling a straw to see who would serve the first three years and who would serve the second three years. Of course, neither Coleman nor Franken would agree to this decision and a long argument would ensue. Eventually one of the two men would tire (as I, and other constituents, have tired of the current process) and, for the good of the state and the nation, he would concede.

Solomon, in his wisdom, would then select as our next senator the candidate who put ambition and desire aside and conceded the election for the common good. Such a decision by one of the contenders may not demonstrate the keenest of political skill, but it would show real leadership. And that would be a happy ending to this long-running piece of political theater.

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