Minnesota voters have spoken. They have overwhelmingly rejected hate, division and greed. They have clearly issued a mandate in favor of shared prosperity for our diverse community.
And for that, we must thank the grassroots activists who made this possible. In the lead-up to the election, Faith in Minnesota, a faith-based, grassroots organization that seeks to create people-centered politics in our state, reached out to voters over 1 million times through door-knocking, phone calls and text messages. We held more than 120,000 conversations with concerned Minnesotans, who shared with us what changes they want to see in their communities. And today, I can say with certainty that these election results are consistent with what Minnesotans said.
We can no longer afford to be the only developed country without health care for all. This pandemic has laid bare the lack of worker protections and the deep injustices of our health care system. We Minnesotans want health care for all, paid family leave and paid sick leave.
We all watched in horror as workers were forced to labor in unsafe environments without proper safeguards against the virus, and how their employers are seeking legislative protection from the consequences of their decisions. If we want to send people back to work, we need statewide worker protections. We Minnesotans want to make sure that employers are not shielded from liability for their negligence toward worker safety.
We have felt the direct impact of the dog whistles and blatant racism spewed by this administration. Our community — home to people of diverse ethnicities, nationalities and faiths — has continued to reject hateful rhetoric and condemn those who traffic in xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. We Minnesotans want the violent extremism of white supremacy countered and dismantled, and we want a program to identify and combat it. We also want state identification and driver’s licenses issued to all without regard to their immigration status.
We are still outraged at the death of George Floyd and the continuing police brutality that Black and Brown Minnesotans regularly encounter. Ongoing structural racism denies far too many Minnesotans the opportunity to prosper and live free from fear of the state.
We Minnesotans want the police accountability legislation that failed to pass last year to be enacted. We also want our representatives to take up significant legislation to begin the work of dismantling the structural racism that continues to plague our society.
We are horrified at ongoing attempts at voter suppression and intimidation. We Minnesotans want all citizens to have an opportunity to cast their vote conveniently and to have every vote counted. Without exception.
We are saddened by the continued defunding of our education system. The achievement gap exists only because certain politicians have chosen to deprive schools in Black and Brown communities of crucial resources, denying students the opportunity to thrive. Fully funding all our public schools, regardless of ZIP code, will address this disservice to our children’s future. We Minnesotans need the education achievement gap addressed, and we know the only way to do that is by fully funding our schools.
During this pandemic, the corrupt have amassed additional billions by pushing a significant portion of our people into poverty. The richest have not paid their fair share in taxes for a long time. Their calculated and intentional defunding of our collective society in the endless pursuit of profit while attempting to divert our attention with messages of hate and mutual distrust have divided our society, to their benefit and our detriment. We Minnesotans need a new, more just tax bracket, and we want increased revenue to be raised to accomplish this goal.
We urge legislators to listen to what the voters are telling them. We urge legislators to use this decisive mandate to create a caring economy serving our multiethnic, multiracial community. We urge legislators not to allow the spurious arguments that have been defeated at the ballot box to delay legislation. We urge legislators to put us on the pathway to such legislative success within the first 60 days.
Prosperity for Minnesotans is not a zero-sum game. We need to prioritize policies that benefit the many, not the few. Minnesotans refuse to be pitted against one another; instead, we demand a moral agenda that paves the way for a more just, more secure shared future.
Imam Asad Zaman is the board chair of Faith in Minnesota and executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.