The first time I came to the Capitol in St. Paul, it was as a rookie reporter to cover the end of the session in 1999 for the Fergus Falls Daily Journal. These were the heady days of “Jesse Checks” and budget surpluses for everybody.
I was awestruck by the beauty of the building, the dignified look of the people wandering its halls and the excitement of the session’s end.
For a political science major who has always been interested in politics, it was a dream come true to be in the rooms where the business of governing was taking place.
When I left the Capitol complex that night, I stopped to stare at the white dome and think about all the people who had come and gone from the building, their dreams and needs and their desire to make Minnesota better, in their own way.
Since then, my reverence for the Capitol, the Minnesota Legislature and state government has evolved, first into repulsion and outrage at the lack of seriousness on display almost every single day, then to boredom at the predictability of it all, then to amusement at the theatrics and egos of the players.
Finally, I grew saddened by politicians’ preference for scoring political victories over achieving important goals, the media’s pursuit of the trivial aspects of state government and interest groups’ myopic focus on the one thing they think is important, instead of rolling up their sleeves and sacrificing to make the state better for everybody.
So why am I writing a column for the Twin Cities Daily Planet that focuses on the Legislature, state government and politics, you might ask? It’s not because I want another shot at tearing into the people and organizations I think are ruining it for the rest of us.
Read more Capitol Reports here.
I think I’m writing this column because the only thing I can think of to do with all this frustration is share what I know and give people a somewhat insider’s view of how decisions are actually made inside that building and how normal citizens can have the best chance of influencing those decisions.
So I hope you’ll join me as we begin another session in St. Paul. I’ll do what I can to pull the curtain back a little for you, and you can keep me honest when you think I’m completely off base.