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Note the sequence: A bipartisan breakthrough on gun legislation in the U.S. Senate, the first such accord in three decades, was announced just one day after scores of "March for Our Lives" protests around the country demanded stricter gun laws.

​I can't prove cause-and-effect. But my bet is that senators were spurred toward a rare compromise by the sight of tens of thousands of voters giving up their leisure on a summer Saturday to beg their government to heed the will of the nation's majority.

And how about that clamor for action from the Minnesota Legislature? What about all those Minnesotans rallying day after day at the State Capitol to demand an end to delay in putting surplus state dollars to much-needed use?

About that imagined scene on the Capitol lawn, I jest — with more than a dash of wishful thinking.

Sadly, it came as little surprise when the Legislature adjourned on May 23 without delivering the bulk of what its members had offered only days before. On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz declared an impasse. That means no tax cuts. No new public works. No increased spending for education, elder and dependent care, public safety, housing or transportation, despite glaring deficiencies in each of those realms of public responsibility.

In the weeks since that dismal show of dysfunction, I've detected little more from Minnesotans than mild grousing and shoulder-shrugging. And that has made me sadder still.

Minnesotans evidently have become accustomed to gridlock in a state government in which political power has been split two or three ways for 30 of the past 32 years. The citizenry seems resigned to paltry results from a governing entity that was so innovative a half-century ago that national pundits deemed its work miraculous. (See: Minnesota Miracle, 1971.)

Minnesotans have been witnessing the slow erosion of one of this state's best assets — its ability to aggregate its resources and deploy them effectively for the public good. They have reason to howl in protest. If they are, I can't hear them.

​Don't blame 30 years of divided state government, one of Minnesota's elder statesmen counseled when I recently compared then-and-now notes with him. Dave Durenberger was a Republican when he served as chief of staff to Gov. Harold LeVander from 1967-70 and in the U.S. Senate from 1978 until 1994. By the time he and I began collaborating on a book in 2016, his lawn sported a Hillary Clinton for president sign.

​Minnesota government was divided in 1971 (DFL governor, conservative Legislature) and still produced laudable results, Durenberger reminded me. The difference between now and then lies in how deeply partisanship has permeated not just government, but also the electorate, he said.

"Today everything is partisan. So much that should be nonpartisan is now partisan. You are either totally for or totally against something before you even get into office," he said. "It's been taken down to the grassroots level — to the level of the city council, the school board, the county commission."

As a result, "we've shrunk the ability to govern. Politics is now about taking the other guy down to build yourself up. It's not about governing the country together."

What to do about that? I suggested eliminating the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. By requiring 60 of 100 votes to move legislation to a vote, the filibuster undermines one of democracy's bedrock principles — majority rule.

The former senator didn't agree.

​"The filibuster is not the problem. The problem is the unwillingness of senators to move off their party positions. And there's no explanation for that other than the degree of polarization in the electorate itself."

​I'd amend that. It's the polarization of the party zealots and the growing discouragement of everybody else.

​Editorial writers, including retired ones, tend to be fans of fixes intended to make majority rule and functional government more likely. We make dandy arguments for ranked-choice voting, independent redistricting commissions, campaign-finance reform, and other great ideas that consistently slam into a wall of partisan resistance.

​Maybe would-be reformers need to shift their focus from the system to the people. Maybe reformers should be looking for new ways to engage people whose expectations of government have gone so low that they are on the verge of dropping out of democratic participation.

​Like what? Durenberger has a list. He says he dreams about a reinvigorated Citizens League, a revived State Planning Agency and refreshed Metropolitan Council that focus on citizen input, a business community that cares about more than shareholder returns, and faith and civic groups that push the idea that we are all responsible for our communities.

There's reason to hope that Americans will shortly see fresh evidence that raising their voices can produce results. I'm rooting for the U.S. Senate's bipartisan gun negotiators to put their agreement in bill form and make it law. When that happens, I hope the "March for Our Lives" sign-toters to get lots of credit — and keep pushing politicians for more.

Lori Sturdevant is a retired Star Tribune editorial writer. She is at lsturdevant@startribune.com.