Today is the primary election; the day we whittle down the candidates to a manageable number. It's always entertaining to watch the campaign rhetoric and variety of campaign ads. Well paid, creative minds develop messages designed to make us think that whichever candidate is paying their salary is the best in the business. Others portray their opponent as the worst possible person in the world. Spin rules the day. They try to convince us that Matt Entenza was a poor Worthington schoolboy, despite his ability to loan his campaign over $3 million. Hard to believe, but at least rooted in the truth; he was that poor schoolboy, even after he went to college, and right up until he married a millionaire. Mark Dayton really did teach public shool children, and Margaret Kelliher was a dairy princess. But as a voter, I would prefer to know who they are, not who they were. Apparently connecting with their roots is philosophically designed to convince people who are still in the midst of those experiences that having gone through them makes them more credible.
But like I said, those ads are rooted in the truth, just not today's truth. One ad that clearly crosses that line is the one that utilizes the services of a mother whose son was killed by a drunk driver as a spokesperson. It is an attack ad aimed at the Republican candidate Tom Emmer. And lest anyone think this writing is designed to advance Emmer's campaign, let me assure you, I did not mark an X next to his name in the booth today. No, this is about truth. The ad says Tom Emmer has two alcohol related driving convictions. That is true. It also says he sponsored legislation to reduce penalties for those who drive under the influence of alcohol. The implication is, Emmer wanted to reduce sentences to less than the one he served. Not true. He sponsored legislation to reduce the time an alcohol related driving conviction would remain on a persons criminal record after they completed their sentence. Even so, that legislation could be interpreted as self-serving, except that Emmer, with a criminal record, had still passed the Minnesota Bar and been elected to the Minnesota House. So it's hard to see where he would benefit. But even if he did, so what? Does a law, that benefits thousands of Minnesotans, automatically become suspect because it also benefits the author? By all accounts Emmer overcame his demons and has had no problems over the past 20 years. Shouldn't people in similar circumstances be given the opportunity to return to a level playing field; even, or maybe especiallly, those that don't have friends in high places?
We have recently begun to focus on the needs ot those trying to reenter society with a criminal record. From a public safety standpoint, it is critical that we do not have large groups of people who cannot get jobs, cannot get housing, and who, as a result of experience, are not afraid of jail. My hats off to those politicians courageous enough to see and portray this as a public safety issue, and not "hug a thug".
There may be many reasons not to like Tom Emmer. This isn't one of them.