Perhaps the analysis of Republican success down-ballot is upside-down. Instead of seeing it as a failure of a blue wave in support of Joe Biden, the presidential vote winner, it may instead be a sign of the success of individual Republican candidates in spite of the negative influence of the incumbent President Donald Trump. Rather than seeing the down-ballot success as an indicator of Trump’s supposed iron grip on the party, it might show that voters chose to elect Republican candidates who reflect conservative ideas independent from the herd mentality credited to Trump.

Local congressional races featured moderate Republicans Lacy Johnson and Kendall Qualls who posited sensible policies that could possibly have attracted majority votes had they run against weaker Democrats, not by affiliating with Trump extremes but by persuasively articulating reasonable conservative points of view.

It could be a sign that Trump does not own the Republican Party. Thoughtful voters repudiated him and his extreme authoritarian rule while still considering conservative values that exclude racism, sexism and include diversity and rule of law. Conservatism itself should not be demonized from being a viable, arguable political philosophy. That President-elect Joe Biden won in counties and districts that otherwise elected Republicans shows how independent Republicans are at heart for the most part. Trump should be more beholden to them than they are to him.

The Republican Party needs to learn they don’t need Trump — they can win fair and square on their merits, when they have merits.

Michael K. Denny, Minneapolis

POLARIZATION

First: Campaign finance reform

Former Sen. Al Franken pulled no punches, as usual, in his Nov. 12 opinion piece “Bring Americans together? Good luck!” I agree that the loss of the Fairness Doctrine has negatively affected our social discourse. But there is one urgent issue on which Americans agree: support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow the states and Congress to better regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. Polling consistently demonstrates that the majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, support an amendment. Franken co-sponsored the amendment while in the Senate.

The obscene amount of money being spent in our elections translates into an Internal Revenue Service that does not have the funding or talent to do the audits that will bring money back into our treasury, as reported in this newspaper on Nov. 8 in the business story “Who is safe from audits? The rich.” Big-moneyed influence is responsible for corporate consolidation and market concentration that is hobbling our family farms and put us in a vulnerable position during this never-ending pandemic. The American people know this and are ready to take action. That is why it would be nice to see Franken use his high profile to discuss the amendment process and the need for passage so that he can join us in helping Minnesota get ready to ratify. Americans working together to protect our democratic process will make for a stronger republic, and the propaganda we are subjected to will lessen, enabling us to hear each other again.

Vicki Barnes, Woodbury

• • •

While President-elect Joe Biden is trying to bring down the political heat in our country, Franken chose to fan the flames by resorting to name-calling to help make his point — targeting President Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh, and by extension, his listeners. The problem? Franken is a former Minnesota senator of the Democratic Party, not just a satirist. Eroding support for Trump will require us all, but especially our Democratic leaders, to treat everyday Republicans with respect. Many of them are hurting too. As a die-hard liberal and Democrat, I understand Franken’s outrage. But as my late father would sometimes say when we kids were on the verge of killing each other: “Don’t get mad, get smart.”

I urge everyone to stick to the facts.

Stay cool and carry on.

Paul Wehrwein, St. Paul

• • •

Thank you for printing Franken’s commentary. He has always impressed me with his insight, common sense and wisdom. He states the truth about where one gets their information and how they assimilate it. I used to listen to Limbaugh back many years ago until one day he shut a caller off. I said to myself, “He is not out for the truth.” I find that the few far-right conservatives I know limit their news intake to Fox and a few radio stations. I get my news from the three major television stations, the Star Tribune, books and three radio stations.

The truth is hard to get to in our political factions but as Americans, we must search for it or we will have leaders who take us down a path of the ideology of racism and isolationism.

By the way, I thought Franken was a great senator and remember him trying to stand up against the passage of the Citizens United change in the law, a true travesty allowing big money into the political arena. Biden could do well in using Franken as an adviser.

Bill White, Eagan

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE

Try other approaches first

Just months after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and discussion of defunding the police among City Council members comes an approved plan for an increase in policing? (“Minneapolis City Council narrowly approves plan to bring in outside police officers to help,” StarTribune.com, Nov. 13.) The City Council voted in a 7-6 decision to increase the police budget by half a million dollars in order to bring in outside police reinforcements. Aside from pouring salt into a deep wound Minneapolis is still suffering from by making such a request, where is the evidence that adding police reduces crime? The gaps seem to only widen between the knowledge of what effective community-safety methods are and budgeting decisions of policing.

Crime does not exist in a vacuum in which policing is the only cure. Where are the community supports, youth outreach programs and mental health services that are continually proven to reduce crime and heal communities? These basic supports should be the first line of defense and be allocated with a sufficient budget, as well as an extra half a million dollars to aid the crime hot spots. The City Council members ought to be asking the people within communities experiencing crime hot spots what would be most helpful to them. Are our communities calling for more police or more resources?

Kaylee Blanchette, Anoka

COVID

Why prioritize bars over schools?

As parents of a second-grader in Stillwater Schools, we received a letter from the school district letting us know that on top of the district middle schools closing, they are now considering closing elementary schools because the community spread of COVID-19 is making operating schools impossible.

Why does the governor and the government put bars and restaurants above our schools? Why are we keeping those nonessential businesses open when our state is among the worst in the nation?

Please explain why an actual lockdown of businesses isn’t happening so we get rid of COVID by the holidays.

Walz and his wife are educators. Minnesota has long been known for being a state filled with healthy people. Now we are prioritizing bars and restaurants over the education of our young people. And we are furthering the stress on companies and businesses who employ parents. As a father, I can attest to the disproportionate stress put on the mothers of our kids, as they juggle working from home and home schooling.

Let’s get our priorities straight. Put kids and parents ahead of bars and restaurants.

Donovan Weimar, Bloomington

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