Election 2020: US House, Minnesota 5th District

This is Ilhan Omar’s seat. On the ballot:

Ilhan Omar (DFL)
Lacy Johnson (Republican)
Michael Moore (Legal Marijuana Now)

If you are reading this because you can’t stand Ilhan and are wondering if Michael Moore is a viable alternative, the short answer is no. Read on for the long answer.

Michael Moore

First things first: this is not the filmmaker, if you were wondering. He apparently usually goes by Mickey. Second, he does not seem to be a stealth Republican; he seems to be a resentful Democrat who hates Ilhan (and was not a fan of Keith, either, he talks at one point about how great Martin Sabo was back in the day.) 

Mickey is probably best known for his history with Minnesota laws and hair braiding. Back in the 1990s he opened a braid-specific salon called the Braid Factory. None of the employees had cosmetology licenses, and after years of fighting, the state agreed that you don’t actually need to have a cosmetology license to braid hair. Here’s an article from 1998 about the fight as it stood at the time. (Link goes to the Newsbank at the St. Paul Public Library; you can also look for an article with the headline “WEAVING A WEB OF TROUBLE//OFFICIALS HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO SHUT DOWN MICHAEL MOORE, WHO SAYS HE DOESN’T NEED A LICENSE TO BRAID HAIR,” from the Pioneer Press on 10/21/1998.) I totally agree with him that cosmetology licenses for hair braiders was ridiculous (they do not teach specialized braiding in cosmetology training!) although the article also notes, “Licenses seem to be Moore’s downfall. He has been arrested more than 30 times for violations mostly related to driving without a license. Moore said ever since he was 16, he’s been a ‘magnet’ for police officers and traffic stops.” (I think he’s biracial — he mentions being raised by a white single mother but doesn’t look white in most of his photos. So I’m willing to believe that he was being racially discriminated against in traffic stops but driving without a license is a choice.)

Anyway, his website is full of extensive content so let me just go through some of the stuff that concerns me.

He repeatedly misrepresents election laws. I’m pretty sure this is ignorance and not malice, but neither is great in a political candidate. On his FAQ page he says, “People can only vote in a Democratic primary for a Democratic candidate if they are pre-registered as Democratic voters. You can’t simply show up at a primary and vote for anyone you want.” This isn’t true. This is the opposite of true. When you pick up your primary ballot you have to pick a party to vote in; you can vote for Democratic candidates OR for Republican candidates. There’s no party registration process AT ALL in Minnesota primaries. Literally none. You just take a ballot and pick a party to vote in and turn in your ballot. I seriously do not know how he’s missed this, even living part-time in Thailand. Elsewhere on his site he makes the following claim: “While he has been endorsed by a Major Party (fun fact: in Minnesota, that’s the only way to get your name on the ballot…)” Again: this isn’t true. If you want to run for US House as an independent, or with a party that doesn’t have major-party status, you need a petition with 1,000 signatures. Collecting 1,000 signatures is a lot of work, but if you expect to be a viable candidate in a race where you’ll need over 100,000 votes to have any shot at maybe winning, you should be able to find 1,000 people willing to sign a petition for you. And in any case, the idea that getting endorsed by a major party is the only way to get your name on the ballot is just a lie. I really do not like candidates who lie about state election law. (This is a bad year to tell this lie. Fucking Kanye West is appearing as a presidential candidate, dude.)

His Education Reform proposals are really exciting. First, he makes the kind of boilerplate “everyone in every other country is teaching their kids more and better” claim:

We have to come to grips with the reality of the fact that govt. education in America.  That is to say, public education, lags far behind much of the civilized world.  When you compare govt. schools throughout most of Southeast Asia and much of Europe, you find that student abilities and competence far surpasses that of their American counterparts.  In some cases, we’re talking about grade gaps of 2 to 3 class years. In other words, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Thailand, often operate at what would be considered an 11th grade level in America.

So: Thailand vs. the US. In Minnesota, education is free and compulsory between age 5 and age 17. (You can drop out at 17 if you jump through some hoops and have the permission of your parents.) The overall graduation rate in Minnesota is 83%. It’s easy to find examples of countries where everyone’s doing much more advanced math at an earlier point (for example) but overwhelmingly, these are countries that do not attempt to provide everyone with a secondary education, and per Wikipedia, that’s absolutely the case in Thailand, where compulsory education ends in 9th grade, “after which pupils can pursue upper-secondary education in a university-preparatory track, or continue their studies in vocational school programs” (but are not required to do either.) I’m not saying that Thailand should switch to the US approach, I’m just saying that this is why test scores across countries are so frequently apples-to-oranges.

He goes on to blame disposable diapers for a long list of societal ills:

1.) [Having children start school as soon as they’re toilet trained] encourages rapid and immediate toilet training of children. People in America simply don’t realize how critical this is.  How failing to immediately toilet train children, while it creates a tremendous economic boom for diaper companies, (who get an extra 2, 3 sometimes as much as 4 years of sales) actually STUNTS the growth of the children.  Imagine the confidence level of 2 or 3 year olds. Toilet trained children, going to school and receiving the cognitive skill sets that they’ll require for great achievement throughout their academic career, rather than allow them to soil themselves in wearable diaper pants until they are 4 or 5 years old.  Sometimes even as old as 6 years.  Spending much of their days crying out loud and failing to learn the critical concepts like authority, social skills and cooperation.   When Asians find out that American children are wearing diapers at age 2 and 3, they are shocked, and confused.  Why?  Because most countries consider it purely nonsensical to purposefully delay the training of young people, which is exactly what America has been doing for generations.  Quite simply, it is the invention of disposable diapers that has allowed America to fall behind and become complacent with regard to early education and preparation.    

(He’s pushing for universal preschool here, just to be clear, not trying to make 2-year-olds do worksheets. I’m not sure why he thinks universal preschool actually requires kids to be toilet trained — American day cares routinely manage kids in diapers.) 

He also has a really long section on how great uniforms are that includes this claim:

They lower the cost of clothes for every family. Instead of new clothes, students need only 2 sets of uniforms.

I mean, if you want to do laundry every night, that’s true, I guess? (I have a kid at a school with a required uniform — “real” uniforms, more or less, per his definition, except we are allowed to buy the tweed pants from anyone who sells tweed pants, they do not have to come from Donald’s Uniforms, which I appreciate since they’re $30 at Donald’s and $10 from Old Navy, which is just one item on my long list of reasons why as a fellow parent of a kid at a school with a uniform I find a lot of his claims unconvincing.)

He also has strong opinions on the hours students should be in school:

Almost all of the world’s most effective schools start at 7:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m.  The reason why schools should start early is because children should go to bed early. Nothing positive or appropriate happens late at night, so there is no reason for young children to spend that time up and active.  That’s the proper time for children to be asleep.  Meanwhile, we should all be able to agree that waking up early makes sense.  Unlike staying up late at night, there are lots of opportunities and advantages to getting up early.  Going to bed sometime between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and waking up between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. would be every parent’s preferred option and give them the most advantages in their life.  So, it’s important to everyone that school’s start at the most appropriate hour.  Having attendance taken precisely at 7:00 a.m. promotes discipline, promptness and encourages proper scheduling.  A full 8 hour school day gives students adequate time for homeroom time, assembly, a proper recess, a proper lunchtime as well as a full course of classes.  

My kids also for several years attended a school that started at 7:30 a.m. FYI, 90% of the parents hated it. My kids had to be outside ready for the bus at 6:45 one year and I know there were kids picked up earlier than that. If everyone were on a schedule like this, it would have been easier to find mid-afternoon extracurriculars instead of evening extracurriculars: I remember researching martial arts classes and finding that everything out there, even for the 2nd graders, was happening too late at night to consider signing up my kid. But, in point of fact, the reason why Minneapolis has early-start schools and late-start schools is to allow one set of buses to serve everyone. Also, high schoolers do a whole lot better with a late-start schedule, to the point that your municipal death rate will drop because they get in fewer car accidents. Anyway that “this would be every parent’s preferred option!” line seemed even more disconnected from reality than “you only need two uniforms!”

His section on homelessness is also kind of exciting. He wants to build giant multi-level shelters (which he tentatively calls a “Homeless Hotel,” although he acknowledges this is a bad name and proposes “Redemption Center” as a better option, which is definitely true for your next piece of dystopic fiction.)  These shelters would have a bunch of businesses on the bottom 3 levels (“the showcase for the people who need employment and career training”), then a bunch of service centers like health care and government services. “Another floor will be a fully encapsulated drug and alcohol rehab center.  Another floor will be educational facilities, including ESL, GED programs, enrollment assistance counseling.  Another floor will be job training facilities. […] The top 10-12 floors are all housing.  Enough space to house 500-750 people.  College dormitory style, separated genders, communal bathrooms and shower facilities.  Floors for men, floors for women, floors for families.  All safe and secured with strict policies regarding entry, alcohol, smoking, cooking, lgbtq+ issues, noise, and of course, adherence to your personal individualized program participation.” He does emphasize that this would be optional, but also says, “The building keeps homeless people off the streets, out of the bus shelters, out of the parks, away from single family homes, away from outside influences. […]  People who currently cost a lot of money, take up time from every public agency we have, and rarely if ever have any positive result to show for that significant investment.  In turn, these centers will be replacing costly transients with productive, redeemed and useful members of society.”

Where do I even start with this. First of all: while we don’t have any Gargantuan Homelessness SuperCenters right now, all of this stuff exists, and all of it is in demand, and expanding it significantly would be good. There’s nothing magical about sticking everything in one place except that it makes it easier to keep people from leaving, and even though he says this would be voluntary, the way he talks about the residents, and the way he approaches this as The Big Solution, makes me think that the “choice” offered here would be “live in this center and follow our rules and your other choice is no supports of any kind and we’ll send someone around to pick up your frozen corpses when the snow melts, you costly transients.” 

Homeless people are people. A lot of unhoused people have jobs; they’re unhoused because housing is too expensive to afford on minimum wage. (He addresses that elsewhere by proposing programs to help more people buy houses in order to free up apartments; he does not address the fact that there aren’t enough houses either.)

Shelters exist, and are in sufficient demand that there isn’t enough space in them, but there are also a lot of unhoused people who don’t want to go a shelter because shelters are so frequently dehumanizing in all the ways that he lists as benefits, from curfews to separating couples. 

But wait, what about his position on marijuana? Isn’t he running as a marijuana party candidate? Well, his page on the topic quotes Ilhan Omar saying that marijuana should be legalized at the federal level, and then attacks her for it.

So, something people need to recognize and realize is that the progressive, socialist, extremist incumbent, has the federal legalization of marijuana at the top of her personal agenda and priority list.  One need only review Omar’s recent tweets to find strong personal support and consistent advocacy of the total legalization of marijuana at the federal level.  In other words, her very clear and proactive stance is, complete and total federal legalization of marijuana.

It is critical that the people recognize the fact that the federal legalization of marijuana is NOT the overwhelming position or priority of the vast majority of 5th district residents and constituents.  Nor is it the position of Michael Moore.

SO IN FACT  if recreational marijuana legalization is important to you, you should most definitely not vote for the candidate from the Legal Marijuana Now party; you should vote for Ilhan Omar. He is not on the ticket to support marijuana legalization (“Legal marijuana at the federal level would expose everyone to a new and potentially explosive dynamic which has never before been anyone’s reality.”) He is at best tepid on legalization and is 100% just taking advantage of the Legal Marijuana Party’s major party status to get on the ballot without the hassle of getting a thousand signatures.

Lacy Johnson 

Lacy is not the (alleged) shoplifter who wanted to run against Ilhan; she lost in the primary. He is, however, a Republican, with alllllllll that entails. A couple of highlights from Lacy’s site:

On Health Care: “Patients should know exactly how much a doctor visit or procedure costs beforehand.” Republicans have embraced the idea of transparency, which is nice and all, but my doctor being able to go into the system and quote me the actual price of my surgery is not going to do shit to help me afford it, actually. Even better is this idea: “We should encourage service providers and insurance companies to compete across state lines, giving the patients more options.” Yes, I definitely want to fly to Massachusetts the next time I break my leg; that’s an outstanding option that will solve all sorts of problems. 

Education: He wants vouchers, of course.

Environment: We can reduce carbon emissions without any regulation, because TESLA.

Got any thoughts on Donald Trump, Lacy? LOOK OVER THERE AT ILHAN OMAR, SHE’S SO HATEFUL.

Ilhan Omar

I think I made it clear in the primary that she’s not my favorite person in the US House but she was the best option in the primary and she’s sure as hell the best option in the general! Vote for Ilhan, I sure as fuck would.

If you’ve read all the way to the bottom: I took the time to look over on Donors Choose for some Minneapolis public school teachers who could use some financial help during These Difficult Times and in particularly with distance learning. The three small projects I found have ALL FUNDED, hurray! But the big one still has a long way to go:

Ms. Stone is a teacher at Cityview Elementary in North Minneapolis. She will be teaching third graders this year, and to help them succeed with distance learning, she is requesting a set of Chromebooks for her class. To equip this class of children with the basic technology they will need for distance learning will require another $6,874 to be raised by October 3rd. Can my readers raise that much? If not, can they at least get it to within sight of the finish line so a corporation or foundation will be inspired to swoop in and match our donations? I think it’s worth trying.

(I don’t have a patreon or a ko-fi but I take a lot of satisfaction from seeing projects fund after I point people at them. Please donate!)


If you are reading this because you can’t stand Ilhan and are wondering if Michael Moore is a viable alternative, the short answer is no. R//ead on for the long answer.

On Health Care: “Patients should know exactly how much a doctor visit or procedure costs beforehand.” Republicans have embraced the idea of transparency, which is nice and all, but my doctor being able to go into the system and quote me the actual price of my surgery is not going to do shit to help me afford it, actually. Even better is this idea: “We should encourage service providers and insurance companies to compete across state lines, giving the patients more options.” I agree that more transparency would be an improvement but neither transparency nor the ability to go outside the state is going to h


6 thoughts on “Election 2020: US House, Minnesota 5th District

      • good point LOL! Antone MELTON-MEAUX. Luckily I’m voting by mail, so I’ll have plenty of time to double check spelling 🙂

        I’ll never vote for Ilhan, but I’m not voting for Lacey Underall, either. (Caddyshak reference, for those confused).

  1. I can see a plausible argument for doctors and insurers not stopping a state lines, but it wouldn’t solve what this person thinks it would solve. It would be for edge cases, literally: the person who lives in one state and commutes to work in another, or lives near a state border and the closest city and doctors are on the other side of a state line.

    But that’s a subset of “why do I need to pick and pay for a specific health care plan, rather than a tax-funded single-payer system?” Because it doesn’t matter what specific plan I choose or am dropped into by an employer, if I live in Massachusetts and get sick while visiting Minneapolis the nearby doctor and ER aren’t going to be “in network” for me.

    • I’ve yet to see a republican spouting the healthcare competition across state lines line actually address the network issue. They’re either unaware of it or they’re ignoring it and hoping people won’t notice till it’s too late. Neither are the kind of thing I’m looking for in a representative.

  2. “There’s nothing magical about sticking everything in one place except that it makes it easier to keep people from leaving”

    I volunteered for a number of years with the Minneapolis/Hennepin County project homeless connect event. I learned that there actually is something magical about sticking everything in one place. One man I was helping out had a friend tagging along. At the end of the couple hours we had accomplished a lot. This man’s friend remarked that he’d done pretty much all of that stuff recently and it took him a whole week. Removing the barriers imposed by transit (cost and inefficiency of public transit) would be a help to people who have to rely on that transit to access services.

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