I was saddened after reading that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota lost the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (“Ellison loses DNC bid, stays in Congress,” Feb. 26). The party seems to have chosen to sail the same old boat, on the same old course, in choosing former Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
The message ringing on that ship’s bell: Pay your dues; reward those who have been working in the party. We are afraid of change; no new blood needed. That message was clearly communicated in Hillary Clinton’s deplorable campaign. (Yes, deplorable!)
Ellison was right in saying that “organizing is how we’re going to win,” and that “we would rather have a million donations of $10 than 10 donations of $100,000”
The message of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches? We need big money, not $10 donations.
Bernie Sanders wrote in his book “Our Revolution”: “The election of 2014 was a wake-up call for the Democratic Party. I wonder if they heard it.”
The people wanted change then. Democrats were voted out.
Songwriter Don McLean was right: “They would not listen, they’re not listening still.”
Perez might be a good leader and do a good job, but the message created by electing him chair will be hard to overcome and make organizing more difficult. I truly wish him luck, and hope he can keep the boat from running aground.
Mary B. Borgeson, Shorewood
HATEFUL VS. SUPPORTIVE SPEECH
A letter of thanks to my local Muslim brothers and sisters
I read with awe and deep appreciation your words of kindness and support directed at my community — the Jews of the Twin Cities — in an advertisement in the Feb. 24 Star Tribune. We Jews understand, probably better than anyone, that fear and ignorance galvanized by hateful speech can too easily lead to destruction and death.
So I stand with so many of my people to support you and yours in this dark period within America. Let us continue to go forward, hand in hand, and show our nation that there is a better way. Jews and Muslims, brothers and sisters, working together for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As-salamu alaykum.
Victor M. Sander, Plymouth
• • •
While I am personally neither Muslim nor Jewish, I would like to commend the local Muslim community members who recently spoke out against anti-Semitism. Even when not intended, silence can all too often be perceived as tacit approval, which only serves to widen the distances between people. The public statement undoubtedly, in and of itself, will not solve anything. It does, however, send a powerful reminder to us all. Regardless of background, it is crucial that all good people stand united against despicable rhetoric and actions.
William Evans, Plymouth
Letter writer’s idealism may wilt under real business conditions
A Feb. 27 letter writer accuses the owner of the Birchwood Cafe of hypocrisy for saying that she cares about her workers and not paying her workers more. The writer must think that law firms care more about their workers than do restaurants, since lawyers get paid much more than restaurant workers.
Workers’ wages are generally set by supply and demand; however, business owners can choose to pay more than the market wage. But, there are constraints on how much more. Restaurants have to pay the rent, electricity, gas, utilities, garbage collection and food vendors before they can pay employees.
I have a couple of politically progressive friends who bought a small grocery store after retirement. They wanted to pay their employees well and provide all of them with health insurance, but they were disappointed to find out that there wasn’t enough money to do that. In addition to having to pay their employees less than they would have liked, they also found that they were not able to make much money for themselves.
It would be great if business owners could simply choose to pay all their employees “fair” wages. But things aren’t really that simple.
James Brandt, New Brighton
• • •
The Feb. 26 editorial urging compromise on state and city labor rules misses the heart of what is actually going on in the struggle at the state Capitol over “pre-emption.” This is not an issue in which both sides come to the table with equal power. This is a case of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce having a stranglehold on the Republican majority. As the editorial noted, it is not morally acceptable for state government to block local action on behalf of decent conditions for working people without shouldering its responsibility to ensure those conditions statewide. But it is clear that our current legislative leadership is beholden to the Chamber of Commerce, which has blocked paid sick time and parental leave for years. There can be no “compromise” as long as one side holds all the power.
Sarah Gleason, St. Paul
Things change: Girls’ basketball through my looking glass
I’m 68 years old and just returned from a weekend of girls’ basketball in Rochester. Girls from three states drove through a blizzard to get there. More than 200 teams were present.
In the 1960s, this was not the basketball experience we had. Girls played half court — three forwards, three guards, and no one crossed the centerline. You could dribble the ball three times and then had to pass or, if you were a forward, shoot.
No one came to watch us play — there were a few intramural games after school once a year. The gym teacher was the referee and coached both sides. We wore our gym uniforms and borrowed bibs from the gym to differentiate the teams.
Professional women’s basketball? What a ridiculous idea. It was common knowledge women didn’t have the stamina for the “real” sport and that your uterus would fall out from the activity. Think how many years that myth endured!
So, I cheer for all the girls. I realize the parents don’t understand that. To them it’s a game to win, but for me it is so very much more. The teamwork, the passion, the endurance. How far we have come in 55 years! And I think about the women who went against “the rules.” I don’t want them to be forgotten.
Next weekend, I will be the grey-haired lady in the bleachers at the girls’ state tournament, crying with joy and gratitude, cheering for all the girls. I celebrate for all of us.
Nancy Bernhagen Dobbratz, Richfield
Trouble found me, blamed me
Regarding “We’ve become a nation of cellphone zombies” (Feb. 25): One day, having finished shopping at our local Cub store, I was pushing my grocery cart out to my car when I saw a family — father, mother and teenage son — walking toward me. The parents were looking ahead for potential traffic, but the son had his head buried into his cellphone. I came to a dead stop and waited. Sure enough, the kid ran headlong right into my cart. He was startled, looked up and loudly exclaimed, “Watch where you’re going, old man!” I wasn’t moving, I was still. His parents ignored the entire event. If the kid keeps this behavior up and meets an intercity light rail train or a bus or car, he might not have the opportunity to say anything. (Except for perhaps a few dying words.)
Stuart Borken, St. Louis Park