Here's what some editorial staff would like to hear more of in the political world.
Facing, like you, months on end of political speechifying, Editorial Board members have fortified themselves by imagining some political pronouncements they'd really like to hear, from some orators who will seem familiar and others who definitely will not.
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Theoretical speaker: Fear Itself
Topic: My hiatus
Greetings, Americans. Fear here, with an important announcement about the campaign.
Over the years, I've been on the ballot a lot. And I've won -- a lot -- with the help of my dedicated supporters. I know that many of you have been working hard to ensure that this year is no exception. Frankly, you needn't have given it so much effort. When I run, I really can't lose.
Nevertheless, I've been at this a long time, and I need to give it a rest. I'd like to spend more time with my family, especially my domestic partner, Cynicism, with whom I've maintained an uncivil union for lo these many years. I'm willing to let the legacies of the 2012 campaign belong to someone else.
Several candidates remain in the race, including Audacity, Sagacity, Humanity and Authenticity. I can't say I'd endorse any of them individually, although together they might amount to something.
Like all good rock-ribbed political players, I'll be back before you can say boo. Try not to wreck the place while I'm gone.
DAVID BANKS, ASSISTANT COMMENTARY EDITOR
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Theoretical speaker: Any legislative candidate
Topic: The state's biggest challenge
Minnesota has one overriding challenge in the next two or three decades. It's to improve the productivity of its workforce as the large, well-educated baby boom generation retires.
The state will fare well if it can keep the boomers and Gen Xers healthy and productive for as long as possible while rapidly bringing following generations up to speed. That work will require more-effective education, more adult retraining, more-affordable and universal health care, more-efficient infrastructure, more safety in our neighborhoods, and a fairer, more-competitive tax structure to pay for it all.
Anyone who says that Minnesota has a spending problem, not a revenue problem -- or vice versa -- isn't telling you all you need to know. Minnesota has a productivity problem. Solving it will require both more and smarter government spending.
LORI STURDEVANT, EDITORIAL WRITER
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Theoretical speaker: House Speaker Kurt Zellers
Topic: When to compromise, when not
I do not apologize for being a politician. Politics is the means by which we come together as a community to make decisions. And, yes, there is some horse-trading involved in that process. None of us feels strongly about every issue that comes before the Legislature; accommodating a colleague on issues important to her is part of building coalitions to support the measures I believe are most important.
And I am proud to be a Republican. I believe government should do no more than it must. I believe we should let the free-enterprise system work and that government should stay out of the private lives of the citizens. I believe that the most stirring words ever written are in our Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." My deep belief in these words is what has led me to a life in politics.
I mentioned that I believe in compromise, but we should never compromise our most important principals. And that is why I will be voting "no" on the proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. Such an amendment would enshrine in our Constitution a provision that would forever deny many of our citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On this I will never compromise. I know that there are those in my party who disagree with me but, if I am to be a leader, I must know what is right and what is wrong and I must stand firm for what I believe.
MICHAEL SWEENEY, CHAIRMAN
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Theoretical speaker: John Q. Public
Topic: The sacrifices we'll make
Lincoln said that his generation had to answer a question for history. Could a free government be a real government? Could it respect its people's right and yet preserve its proper powers in the face of crisis and rebellion? Or was free government doomed to perish, yielding either to tyranny or chaos?
Lincoln's America passed its test. Now our generation confronts an historic question of its own, and it is politicians who need to hear the answer from us, the voters. Can a democracy successfully ask its people for sacrifices before crisis engulfs it and no good choices remain -- can it head-off crisis by facing facts?
We voters belittle politicians for their cowardice, cynicism and refusal to compromise. But it is us they are afraid of. It is our selfishness, our wishful thinking and eagerness to blame "the other" for all problems that makes them at once evasive and unyielding. It is their business to distinguish what voters say from what voters do, and they do not believe we will support them if they raise taxes or cut benefits -- ours, that is, not somebody else's -- to repair the nation's finances.
Are they wrong? We can prove it by rewarding politicians who tell hard truths and rejecting those who tell pleasing lies. Can't tell the difference? If what a politician tells you about the budgetary future sounds good, it's a lie.
If we don't do this we alone will to be blame for the crisis that must, then, eventually come.
D.J. TICE, COMMENTARY EDITOR
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Theoretical speakers: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
Topic: The spirit of Citizens United
"Citizens United" is dividing us.
The unlimited campaign spending unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the "free speech" issue is costly, as voters turned off by the toxic TV ads tune out the political process altogether.
We both respect the Supreme Court, even if we don't always agree with the justices' decrees.
So now that Citizens United is the law of the land, it's time that we live up to the spirit of the ruling. Accordingly, we both back the U.S. House version of the Disclose 2012 Act, which would require super PACs, unions, corporations or other groups to report contributions of $10,000 or more within 24 hours, so voters can know in real time just who is bankrolling campaigns.
At the conclusion of commercials, a leader of these groups would have to say they "approve this message," and the top five funders would have to be listed. And each organization would need to disclose to its members its political expenditures.
Campaign commercials and campaign spending are hardly the most critical issues facing our nation. But the cynicism they can fuel will make it harder to harness the citizen participation we both believe will be necessary to solve those problems that truly are most dire.
JOHN RASH, EDITORIAL WRITER
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Theoretical speaker: A school board candidate
Topic: Independent leadership
If I'm fortunate enough to be elected to the board, my priorities will be to represent the interests of our students and the taxpayers who fund our schools.
I will collaborate with school administrators, parents and teachers on programs that deliver results for our students, but I will remain an independent arbiter as we assess performance and results. My success as a board member will be measured in student achievement -- not in whether the superintendent is pleased with all of my votes, or whether Education Minnesota gives me its stamp of approval.
I'll make a commitment to the taxpayers of our district to do everything in my power to ensure that the dollars we spend on education are spent wisely to support strategies that deliver measurable progress for all students. I will support referenda to increase per-student spending if I'm convinced that the money is needed and will be used to enhance learning.
I will do everything possible to address the achievement gap between white students and students of color, including working with school administrators to build stronger relationships with the parents and guardians of struggling students.
And I will build new partnerships with local business leaders who must do their fair share to help the today's students become the skilled workforce Minnesota will need to compete in the decades to come.
SCOTT GILLESPIE, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
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Theoretical speakers: The baby boom generation
Topic: Vocal again, for today's needs
After a lifetime of being the "Me Generation," we will wield our demographic clout for the collective good: forcing the nation to balance its books in a sustainable way. We will not go quietly into our retirement years. Instead, we will summon the full-throated political voice from the protests of our youth and once again demand sweeping change. This time, we want a "grand bargain" -- a deal to reduce our nation's debt in the months ahead.
That deal must be reasoned and fair. Debt and deficit-spending must be gradually reduced without sacrificing the public investments in education, the environment, transportation and other areas needed for future prosperity. This will require a balanced approach: spending cuts and tax increases. Armed with a lifetime of knowledge, we understand that either-or won't work. We'll vote against anybody who tells us otherwise.
We will fight for the expensive but vital programs that we will soon depend on -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But we understand that changes may be needed and those among us with resources may need to shoulder more of their costs than anticipated. As a generation that fought an unpopular war, we will ensure that those who fight for our country have the resources they need in battle and on the home front even as defense spending is brought in line.
We have enjoyed unprecedented abundance in our lifetimes. With that comes the responsibility to ensure the same opportunities for those who follow. Our generation alone has the numeric power to make this happen. Few politicians will defy us if we demand no changes to entitlement programs and fight other sacrifices that everyone must make. But if we demand the reasonable compromises a grand bargain must include, politicians will follow our lead. It's up to us. Our legacy will be finding and forcing the best solutions to our nation's monumental fiscal challenges.
JILL BURCUM, EDITORIAL WRITER
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Theoretical speakers: Partisan-weary voters
Topic: An end to divisiveness
Some of the blatant disrespect that's been directed at President Obama is nothing short of racist. It's no secret that some among us hate having an African-American commander in chief and refuse to accept it.
But there have also been times when comments hurled at the president were simply episodes in the continuing coarsening of American political and social discourse. We're sick of it, and we want you to put a stop to it.
Though it's not the primary issue of this campaign, it is one of the things we want to hear from our candidates -- what can be done to dial back the divisiveness and promote real bipartisanship. And don't just give the idea lip service like you do for about five minutes at the beginning of each Congress or legislative session. Say it, mean it and model it.
One way is to call people out -- even your own supporters -- when they get out of line about your opponent. A good example, was four years ago when Sen. John McCain admirably corrected a Minnesotan for shouting a lie about Obama during a campaign rally.
Too often we've watched political standoffs delay or kill good legislation because making the other side fail was the primary goal. Somewhere in the fight to win, the facts and the common good get lost. That mean-spirited, divisive atmosphere is driving good lawmakers out of public service -- and driving down our confidence in elected leaders.
We want and deserve better. You who want to be our public servants can help lead the way.
DENISE JOHNSON, EDITORIAL WRITER
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.