I know, I know, most of you are either unwilling to even consider another round of American elections or prefer to wait until 2018 to hold a referendum on Our Dear PET (President Elect Trump). I think its time to switch it up a bit, especially if you happen to live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 2017 City election in MPLS is going to be interesting and important. Interesting because the entire City government is up for election and we have been using ranked choice voting since 2009. Important because it will be the first election during the Trump Administration, MPLS is a proud Sanctuary City, and it will be held in a city charged with social and political activism, organization, and protest. This river town has a long history of Leftish governance and Liberal Socialism that is routinely underscored by the real possibility of life-threatening winter weather and blizzards that require community cooperation and solid city services to survive. Because MPLS has been run by Democrats and Greens for over 50 years, well-organized social and political groups to the left of the mainstream Minneapolis liberals are already in place and prepared to challenge the status quo. The rise of the authoritarian right and the embarrassingly feckless national campaign directed by the Neo-Liberal Democratic Party establishment have combined to energize the progressive, activist Left in Minneapolis. The stage is set for a significant and sustained shift in Minneapolis governance in 2017. Challenging the dominant political powers is never and easy task, especially when you are taking on incumbents.
Our election starts now. Actually, its has been going on for a couple of months. Many of the activists and organizers in Minneapolis supported Bernie Sanders in the last national election. They understand that a political revolution needs more than good, qualified, candidates, it helps to control a major political party. In this case, the Minneapolis DFL or Green Party, and I’m not suggesting we confront the Greens. Moving MPLS government to the left starts with moving the MPLS DFL to the left. The first step is to organize support for more progressive candidates in the DFL Precinct Caucuses on April 4, 2017 and electing delegates to the DFL City Convention on June 24, 2017. In an era of polarization and under a system without ranked choice voting, the caucus and primaries are the real meat of the election. The RCV mechanism renews the value of the general election because it reintroduces competition to the race and weakens the duopoly, but does not lessen the importance of the caucus and convention within the parties. If you are one of the many Minneapolis progressives or activists challenged by the looming Trump Administration and the GOP majority in the State Legislature, now is the time to stand up.
The 2017 MPLS election is a perfect storm, so put on your marching boots, organize with your neighbors, make some noise, and move forward. Whether that means taking to the streets, joining a campaign, or signing up to be a candidate, do it now. A good number of political activists have already entered the races for Mayor, City Council, and Parks Board. They will bring new energy from the movements for racial justice, economic equity, local food systems, and environmental health that have been gaining influence and effectiveness in recent years. The RCV system reinforces the potential of candidates beyond the established party leadership to get elected. Minneapolis progressives have a very real opportunity to show the rest of the country how to confront the authoritarian right. Not only in the streets, but in the halls of elected government as well. We can do this.