My Point of View: 1st District race one of most watched in country

Published 9:58 pm Monday, October 29, 2018

My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson


“Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers…”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”

“Knock the crap out of him, would you?”

It still baffles me that so many observant Christians are among the most ardent supporters of a politician whose rambling, belligerent speeches are often diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t value temporal power or wealth. He warned against accumulation of possessions and worship of money. He was a young refugee whose parents fled violence in their homeland and sought sanctuary in Egypt. Jesus advocated for nonviolence, broke bread with the lowliest in society, healed the sick regardless of ability to pay, traveled around on foot in a small caravan and directly challenged authority.

Disciples of Christ have a difficult act to follow, no doubt. But when a leader who embodies the term “of the flesh” so prodigiously boasts, “We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” what does it even mean? Is he welcoming the minimalist example of Christ back into modern life? Is he loving his enemies and practicing radical empathy for the downtrodden and despised? Or is he merely promoting a Christian blessing upon our annual capitalist shopping orgy?

Here’s a hint: This politician’s signature achievement is a $1.5 trillion tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest Americans. Sheldon Adelson’s companies got a $670 million tax break, and he in turn promised to write a $30 million check to the Republicans’ Congressional Leadership Fund this spring.

Meanwhile, our already large budget deficit has mushroomed by over $200 billion in a non-recession year. Instead of admitting that Republicans’ extravagant tax cuts to its donor base aren’t paying for themselves, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly talking about Social Security, Medicare and other social programs like they’re a juicy Christmas ham he can’t wait to carve up.

Sorry, Tiny Tim.

As if all our president’s freewheeling, fact-defying tweets and rallies weren’t outlandish enough, now he has embraced the label “nationalist.” Fellow Americans, nationalist leaders have a history of taking their countries to very dark places, one step at a time. It may be a bridge too far for most of us to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” but it’s a genuinely bad idea to hate and dehumanize them.

Our president needs checks and balances. One of Congress’s most important functions is to provide these restraints on the executive branch, but Republicans lack the intestinal fortitude to reign in Trump’s worst impulses. Our congressional district race is one of the most-watched contests in the country this year, and control of the House is in play.

Fortunately, DFL candidate Dan Feehan has exceptional qualities and experiences that qualify him for this office. He wades thoughtfully into tough issues to evaluate what would serve our district best. Dan is a combat veteran who worries about the toll that 17 consecutive years of war has taken on military personnel and their families. He understands from working at the Department of Defense that climate change is our No. 1 national security issue, not borders. Dan respects women as people and leaders. Dan focuses on meat-and-potatoes issues, most notably affordable health care, while his opponent plays up wedge issues intended to divide the electorate.

His opponent has mainly resided in the D.C. area for decades and runs intermittently in our district on the stock of his family name. Jim Hagedorn promises to be a “reinforcement” for the president — blank check and no balance. If Jim wants to be a rubber stamp for the president, he should go back to working in the executive branch.

Jim doesn’t think humans are causing climate change, and he’s all in for the fossil fuels, which are driving it and already impacting our farmers. In his former blog, he insulted many high-ranking women, and he rides the coattails of a leader who had an unprotected extramarital affair with a person whom he recently referred to as “Horseface.” Hagedorn thinks campaign donations should be unlimited, and as soon as he got the microphone at the Trump rally in Rochester, he jumped into divisive wedge issues.

Please, eligible voters, jump to the polls. Like the incomparable Ann Richards used to say, “When you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Vote for candidates who will look out for regular people who can’t donate princely sums to campaigns. Vote for Dan, and don’t forget Tim, Tina, Amy and Terry.

Moral clarity, religious or not, is practical and wise: “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”  Hubert Humphrey

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.