Election 2014: Senate

So let’s get this started. At the top of my ballot is the U.S. Senate race. Just to quickly recap what happened six years ago: Al Franken ran against incumbent Norm Coleman; the result was ridiculously close and had to be carefully hand-counted, and it was more than six months before Franken was able to take office. His final lead was either 225 votes or 312 votes. I could not ask for a better object lesson on the subject of, “yes, it matters that you vote, and it matters who you vote for.”

The people on my ballot for U.S. Senate:


So let’s just go top to bottom here.

Steve Carlson

Steve Carlson’s party is officially Independence. There was a brief period of time when this party was actually legit rather than a motley collection of weirdos and paranoids. Where Steve Carlson falls can be spotted very quickly on visiting his website. (The fact that the URL is “stevecarlsonforcongress2010” is also a pretty big clue.) Let’s say you have an uncle you see at big family gatherings and he’s okay as long as you stay on topics like how good his BBQ recipe is and how smart his kids are, but when you get onto politics, out come the racism, homophobia, sexism, wingnuttery, and rampant paranoia. Let’s say he made a whole bunch of videos showcasing his political ideas and put them on a website. That’s Steve Carlson.

Weirdly, he makes all sorts of statements about why you absolutely positively should not vote for Al Franken but he makes zero case (that I found — I am really not willing to sit through his videos, though, and there don’t seem to be any written statements beyond the video titles) for why you should vote for him over Mike McFadden, the Republican candidate (i.e., the guy who might conceivably beat Al in the race). I’m curious what he has against Mike that makes him so willing to act as a potential spoiler, or if he’s just oblivious to that possibility. (In 2008, the ultra-conservative Constitution party candidate got 8,905 votes. If three percent of those voters had gone for Norm Coleman instead, he’d have won the election.)

Mike McFadden

McFadden is the Republicans. If you’re a Republican, you’re probably going to vote for him. Let me just note, though, that when I pulled open the issues page, he starts out by talking about health care. The botched implementation of the MNSure site makes it an easy topic on which to take pot shots, but here’s one of the things he says:

Covering Those With Pre-Existing Conditions. Despite all the promises made during the health care debate, there are still Americans with pre-existing conditions who are struggling to find or afford coverage. This is unacceptable. When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we need to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions actually have access to affordable insurance plans that cover their illnesses.

…with absolutely zero explanation for how he plans to do that, other than the previous paragraph where he said it needs to be “a patient-centered, market-based solution that will lower costs and increase accessibility for all Americans.”

You know something I have very little patience for from politicians are solutions woven from fairy dust and unicorn farts. Political solutions that look like this classic math proof:

That math comic where step three of a proof is,

And then a miracle occurs…

You know the solution that will ensure that every individual with a pre-existing condition will actually have access to health care they can afford? Single-payer health care. Socialized medicine. I guarantee you that this is not what McFadden is advocating. The market-based Republican solution for covering the uninsured and uninsurable was Romneycare. It was almost exactly the program that was implemented, which they liked fine before the Democrats said, “okay, fine. You know what? we’ll take it.”

So if you’re a Republican politician who’s going to go after Obamacare by saying that people with pre-existing conditions are still having trouble getting insured (true, for some, because some people still can’t afford insurance) but you’re not actually going to spell out how you’re going to fix this even in the most rudimentary way, people need to call you on it.

Al Franken

I voted for Al six years ago but with some trepidation, to be honest. I struggled with who to support in the primary. Al the candidate was combative and confrontational and frequently negative. The moment I found myself really liking him, to be honest, was when he was asked about gay marriage. “I love my wife,” he said. “Frannie is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I want EVERYONE to be able to marry the person they love because no one should be denied this sort of happiness.” That’s Al at his best: personal, ethical, and committed.

I’ve been a lot happier with Al-the-Senator than I was with Al-the-Candidate because I feel like we’ve seen a lot of Al at his best. He’s avoided showboating and grandstanding; he’s put a lot of time and energy into dealing with constituent services; he’s pursued some small-scale stuff that solve problems. (He authored the amendment to the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80-85% of premiums on actual health care costs, and to give rebates if they’re failing to meet that benchmark.)

Heather Johnson

If you pick your politicians based on how attractive they are, Heather Johnson would be your clear choice. Mike McFadden looks like the guy in the movie who will turn out to be evil in the third act; Steve Carlson looks like your uncle who mainlines Fox News; and Al Franken looks like Al Franken. Heather Johnson looks like someone you’d cast to play the femme fatale in a movie made by Evangelical Christians about the dangers of going to poetry readings with heathens.

Anyway, she’s a libertarian. I was just the other day looking at this political cartoon, the 24 types of libertarians: http://leftycartoons.com/the-24-types-of-libertarian/

I would say she’s probably mostly the “Naive” kind (on welfare and human services: “I support direct effort through voluntary community charities, locally led initiatives, and the free market with all individuals having responsibility and free choice regarding the exchange of goods and services for goods and services”) with a side of “Briefly Tempting” (On the prison system: “The privatized prison system does not work. Our prison population exceeds other developed nations and rivals underdeveloped nations. This is alarming in a country that claims to support liberty, was built to preserve personal liberty and leaders as servants to we the people.”)

The decision here for me is not at all hard: Al Franken.


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