What does it mean to run for an elected office in a system broken and jammed by corruption and carelessness? Especially vexing is the definition of a “serious candidate”. Serious about what? Winning an election to take an office, or dismantling the system that created, sustains, and empowers that office? I tend toward the latter, and that’s the rub. How to effectively run for a seat on the City Council, while proposing to break it up, and not seem like a joke or a dilettante?
I suppose that the Trojan Horse approach might be an option. Run as a “progressive” Democrat with Neo-Liberal tendencies and tow the Party line to get elected, then take off the costume, drop the facade, and set about dismantling the system from inside. I don’t think I could pull it off with a straight face. Somewhere along the line, the 4th wall would get broken and the gig would be up. Even if it was successful, it would create personal and political animosities towards me because I tricked people and pulled a Bait and Switch on them. I don’t want that. I realize that any effective elected official will mostly likely be disliked by some constituents, and I expect that would be no different for me, but I’d hope it was for something other than misrepresenting myself in an election.
Better to pare down the MPLS Initiative and push for community control of police – CPAC, but that would be a mostly rhetorical change. Andrew Johnson is clearly vulnerable on the issue of police accountability. He did an abysmal job with the Powderhorn PR debacle and the aftermath of #AbolishPolice dog and pony show. But even a “progressive” DFLer in Minneapolis will be made to concede to the businesses and bosses, and I doubt the voters of Ward 12 will embrace CPAC as a single issue in 2021. Running without Party affiliation or as Independent is no more effective than making up a new “party” – Minneapolis People for Liberation and Solidarity (MPLS). Regardless, I’d need allies on the Council to get CPAC established and I doubt many current CMs will sign on. Better to encourage CPAC supporters to run in the other 12 Wards and Mayor’s Office, coordinate our efforts, and run as a coalition to get it done. Minneapolis People for Liberation and Solidarity (MPLS) could be the alternative “party affiliation” for the Minneapolis CPAC coalition. If you are an independent candidate for municipal office in Minneapolis and support community control of police through CPAC, consider joining MPLS.
A functional CPAC is only one part of what is necessary to rethink policing, social services, and health care delivery in Minneapolis. It is also necessary to relieve MPD of the responsibility to respond to any and all emergency situations in the city. I expect that the police would be all too pleased to let someone else deal with domestic disputes, addiction, and our unhoused residents, among other social ills that have been criminalized. To successfully decentralize the power of MPD, Park Patrol, and other police forces in the city it must not be done in a vacuum. We need to build a social services system that can effectively serve the communities in the city as the police step back. I believe that the best way to do so is to identify people and organizations that are already doing the kind of work needed, reach out to them, and find out what they need, and do what possible to support and enhance their efforts. The current occupiers of City Hall choose to hand off this work, and a whole bunch of money, to their friends and political allies, rather than stand in solidarity with the people already doing the work in the communities they represent.
Clearly, the City Council and Mayor’s Office, much like MPD, have more responsibility than they can effectively handle in a humane and equitable way. The people of Minneapolis are willing and able to step up and help, but are routinely shut out, silenced, and ignored. Even as they continue to serve and protect their communities undeterred by smear campaigns, death threats, tear gas, or pepper spray. Remember the Minneapolis Election of 2017? The “progressive wave”? In 2020, we see how little progress has actually been made. The Park Board is still spraying toxic pesticides and bulldozing tent cities while the MPD sprays pepper and gas. The more things change, the more they remain entrenched. If the whole damned system is guilty as hell, then maybe focusing on who is elected to work within it, is a bit short-sighted. It is time to rethink the whole damned system. Community control of police, land and water, soil and food, health and welfare, taxation and finance, infrastructure and planning, the whole damned system.