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Politics, in part, is about picking the right battle

April 12, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The Republicans who control the Legislature in Minnesota have not been sitting on their hands. They cut spending to balance a whopping budget deficit; they put anti-gay marriage and voter ID constitutional amendments on the ballot for this fall; they have worked to expand gun rights; they have eased regulation on job-creators; and they plan to do more.

It cannot be said that Republicans have been ineffective. They have received some criticism, however, for not doing more to curb the power of public employee unions. There is merit to the complaint, but those making it also should remember that politics is about picking the right battle at the right time.

Minnesotans need look no further than Wisconsin to see the firestorm that can erupt when public employees are asked to give back even a little of their generous benefits. The unions' national supporters - primarily the Democratic Party, which benefits from union votes - turned up the heat and turned out the protesters in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker now faces a recall election. Similarly, other Midwestern states that have worked to scale back costs associated with public employees have seen pitched political battles break out.

Minnesota will have to act, at some point, to curb the power and costs associated with public employee unions. Both are unsustainable. The solution may simply involve holding the line on spending over time. And there may be protests as the process moves ahead. All of this can play out in coming years. The key is for Republicans to maintain their strong stand and keep pursuing their goals. The state and its taxpayers will be healthier for it.



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