State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, welcomed President Donald Trump to Minnesota last week and was one of a handful of elected officials to get a special shoutout during the president’s 100-minute speech. Sen. Gazelka also wrote a commentary (“I’d like to expand on my thanks to the president,” Oct. 15) to outline all he had to be thankful for with Donald Trump as president. If I’d been given the opportunity, my conversation with the president would have gone a little differently.

I would have asked President Trump if he’s been in touch with any Minnesotans who aren’t in the top 1% for feedback on his tax bill. I know business has been great for billionaires, but corporations and the wealthy now pay a lower tax rate than middle-class Minnesotans and that’s just not right.

Instead of thanking the president for continuing to slash away at the Affordable Care Act, I would ask him why his administration is working to remove protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.

If I had the chance, I would ask Trump why he continues to punish our Minnesota farmers and place tariffs on goods that are being paid for by our residents.

And I’d ask the president if Mexico has paid for his wall yet.

Gazelka is right: the contrast between Trump and Republicans and the DFL here in Minnesota couldn’t be clearer.

Minnesota DFLers are working to encourage clean-energy innovation to grow jobs and protect our environment. We’re advocating for a health care system that ensures no Minnesotan is left to choose between paying for prescriptions or feeding their family. We know a world-class education shouldn’t depend on your ZIP code or the color of your skin. And we respect people no matter what they look like or who they love.

Somali immigrants and refugees are Minnesotans just like anyone else. They pay taxes, buy groceries, start businesses and send their children to school. There are few actions so brave as to leave your home and everything you know in search of a safe place to find opportunities for your family. Yet Trump and his fans in the Target Center thought it was appropriate to boo these families and their bravery. That is not the kind of leadership we deserve here in Minnesota or anywhere else.

Trump lost Minnesota because we know his words have consequences, and we’re not OK with hateful rhetoric meant to divide our communities. We know booing refugees, bragging about sexual assault or making fun of people with physical disabilities isn’t humor. And it sure isn’t brave. We know we all do better when we all do better, but this administration is more interested in pushing people down than helping to lift them up.

We might not be quiet about our disappointment in the president. We will join our communities in the parks and the streets and make our voices heard. We will protest and make signs and rally and we will vote. And we will do it together because that’s the only way we make change.

Gazelka asked us if we want a leader who makes us feel good or one who does good, but right now we don’t have either.


Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, is assistant minority leader in the Minnesota Senate.