President Donald Trump seems to take a dim view of cities. Though he comes out of the biggest U.S. city of all, New York, he regularly trashes urban centers. As president, he’s gone after Baltimore (“a rodent-infested mess”); Chicago (“a total disaster”); Los Angeles (“horrible, horrible, disgusting conditions”); and Atlanta (“falling apart” and “crime-infested”).
Well, Mr. President, we won’t claim Minneapolis and St. Paul are perfect. But when you arrive here for your visit, you will find vibrant cities that celebrate their diverse cultures and groups, from the descendants of Norwegian and German immigrants to more recent Somali and Hmong settlers who have added new dimensions to life in the Upper Midwest.
We have crime and homelessness, like any area, but we know the primary causes are poverty and struggle regardless of ethnic identity.
The metro area is also the financial engine of the state, with banking centers and Fortune 500 headquarters, as well as thriving small businesses and nonprofits.
A higher-than-average minimum wage has helped lift the quality of life for some of our hardest workers. Our many parks give everyone a chance to enjoy greenery and outdoor amenities. They cost money, but we know they pay dividends beyond measure.
We hope you see all the richness of life in our cities. We’ve spent decades building bridges to knit various communities together, because bridges are better than walls.
We admit, we could use a little help, not just in the cities, but in this state you hope to win come November, 2020. You won’t win it by turning Minnesotans against one another or by demonizing and scapegoating our elected officials. The harsh climate has taught Minnesotans a few things about the value of community and of looking out for one another. One happy outgrowth: We are among the most charitable states in the nation.
What we need more than divisive rhetoric is comprehensive immigration reform that will address the acute worker shortage in this state; that will bring undocumented young people brought here as children out of the shadows and into full citizenship. We need trade policies that won’t hurt our manufacturers, many of whom depend on global sales.
We need an agricultural policy that helps our farmers get their goods to markets around the world. They don’t want handouts while their crops rot and their revenues shrink. And let’s make it a policy that ensures a place for smaller farms and dairies, that recognizes the value they add to their communities — not one that dismisses them as whiners or consigns them to extinction, as your agriculture secretary did.
We need a modernized infrastructure, at every level and across the state, so that Minnesota can properly compete in a changing economy and best serve its citizens. We need federal policies that protect our lakes and rivers — and recognize forthrightly the threat posed by climate change.
We need solid gun research and reforms that keep us safer while protecting the Second Amendment rights of our many hunters and law-abiding gun owners. And we need fiscal policies that protect the most vulnerable among us but that don’t bankrupt future generations.
Mr. President, you often complain about the U.S. being a “sucker” for giving while other countries take. We don’t entirely agree with that notion, but we do know what it’s like to give more than we get. Over the years, Minnesota typically has paid more in federal taxes than it gets back in federal contracts, grants and projects. (Some of those taxpayers, by the way, will be paying for the security to keep your visit a safe one.)
We know your rally will appeal to your base. But keep in mind that Minnesota is a state of well over 5 million people, from all walks, all faiths, all cultures. All deserve respect and a federal government — and a leader — that is looking out for them.