My Point of View: Democrats focused on getting past COVID-19 devastation

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

More economic relief from the pandemic is on the way soon. By mid-week, Democrats in Congress are on target to pass President Biden’s COVID stimulus/relief package, including direct payments to individuals.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

The legislation also includes money for local governments to help replace lost revenue due to the pandemic. Under the plan, Freeborn County government will receive nearly $6 million.

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Despite wide public support for the plan in a number of national polls, zero Republicans voted for it. Rep. Hagedorn voted against this economic recovery plan that delivers help directly to working families.

In the U.S. Senate, the measure passed 50-49, a narrow margin that conceals the fact that the senators who voted for it — including Minnesota’s Sens. Klobuchar and Smith — represent nearly 42 million more Americans than the senators who voted against it.

Thanks to effective vaccines developed in record time, we may be able to beat COVID by this summer, but the race isn’t over yet. Over 12,000 Americans died last week, including one from Freeborn County. Of the over 500,000 people who died from COVID in the past year, 24 were from this area.

Please get vaccinated as soon as you can and keep wearing masks. Masks are still saving lives, and even as our state rushes to vaccinate people, the more contagious and deadly UK variant is spreading in Minnesota. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, but it’s too soon to relax yet.

Minnesota has fared better than most of its neighbors thanks to Gov. Tim Walz’s actions. If Minnesota had South Dakota’s death rate for COVID, we would have nearly 12,000 dead instead of over 6,500. (And 6,500 is staggering enough.) In other words, Walz has saved over 5,000 lives compared to Gov. Kristi Noem’s dismal record. She let COVID cut a deadly swath through her state.

Noem’s failure added to hospitalizations and deaths in Minnesota, and the Sturgis motorcycle rally last August was a key superspreader event across the Midwest. She didn’t just let Sturgis happen, she promoted it. Her negligence hurt Minnesota and made the strain on our health care professionals worse.

Walz has clearly outperformed Noem. Republicans give “life” lip service at every turn, but Walz’s efforts are what “pro-life” looks like in action. Thank goodness he wasn’t as reckless as Noem nor as nonchalant as state senate majority leader Gazelka wanted him to be. Walz has fought COVID against a steady headwind of Republicans who favored reopening for the sake of bottom lines despite the toll it would exact on public health.

Lost livelihoods can be rebuilt or replaced, lost lives cannot.

While Democrats work tirelessly with scientists and public health experts to cancel COVID, Republicans are fixated on what they claim are the ravages of “cancel culture.” 

Our state Rep. Peggy Bennett is worried for no reason at all that our state’s new social studies standards are going to “cancel” Washington and Lincoln from the curriculum.

On Facebook she wrote, “So, will George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other key historical figures from our nation’s history be left out of instruction? I hope not, but this could very well be the case since much of that basic history has been removed from these new standards and benchmarks.”

It should go without saying that this will not be the case, but some constituents believe Rep. Bennett’s baseless trepidation anyway.

The recent CPAC convention’s theme was “America Uncanceled.” In an ironic twist, organizers canceled Young Pharaoh’s invitation to speak because of his anti-Semitic views, yet conservatives addressed attendees from a stage shaped like a Nazi insignia used by several divisions of the SS.

Why did CPAC use this distinctly white supremacist, anti-Semitic symbol at the center of its gathering? And why did the convention feature a golden statue of Donald Trump with a fairy wand?

In World War II, we didn’t wring our hands about canceling Nazism, and ancient Judeo-Christian tradition canceled the golden calf as an object of worship. But at CPAC, Nazis and idolatry were bizarrely  “uncanceled.”

If that’s not off the rails enough, FOX News and numerous Republican leaders who embrace FOX’s chosen narrative spent the better part of last week despairing over Dr. Seuss. Theodore Geisel’s estate did remove a small handful of titles from publication due to their outdated depictions that we now widely recognize as offensive. This business decision was not in any way a “cancellation” of Dr. Seuss’s continuing and respected impact on children’s literature.

So, while Republicans are trying to incense people about our culture gradually changing to be more inclusive of everyone, Democrats are focused on getting us past the devastation of COVID and back to normal life safely as quickly as possible.

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