Election day in southern Minnesota

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Okay, I admit it. I live in a reasonably well-off subdivision in Mankato. My neighbors are mostly doctors and pharmacists and seasoned university professors. We also have two bank owners and several insurance agents, so the financial industry is well represented.

My wife and I are the “po’ folks,” as they say. We have the oldest house, built in ’79, which is half-bermed, half in desperate need of new siding. (The woodpeckers love the existing weathered cedar planking.)

It seems like all of my neighbors were out to vote early this morning. This group of folks, which is not used to standing in line for anything except airport security checks, was dutifully doing just that outside the United Church of Christ church down the road.

The church is of special interest, since it was built largely with funds supplied by Mankato billionaire Glen Taylor, who lives on several acres next door — when he’s in town, that is.

Mr. Taylor is a good Republican and a former Minnesota state senator, and at one time was considered a possible candidate for governor. But he’s also a member of the UCC, which condones same-sex unions, and is generally considered to be, after the Unitarians, the most liberal mainsteam denomination in the U.S.

But I digress, though with a purpose. My neighborhood is, in sum, an interesting amalgam of conservative businessmen and liberal professors, most in their middle age with kids already off to college and beyond. And then down the road is one billionaire, who is a little bit of both.

Missing from the lineup this morning — and I would count that there were about 40 in line when I left at 7:30 — were the precinct’s new arrivals: Younger families living in seemingly too-large houses situated in what was a corn and soybean field just five years ago. These folks are connected to the community mostly through their children’s schools and their jobs. But they lack a sense of community history as well as awareness of the individuals and processes that have been instrumental in creating it.

This is critical, because they are probably more susceptible to political messaging based on ideology, like simple catch phrases on social issues and appeals for lower taxes. Having just moved into brand new fairly sizable homes, they suddenly find themselves in the property-taxed class. And what they don’t realize is that taxes that others paid before them are responsible for the quality schools and community that they are enjoying today.

How many of them will vote, I am not sure. What I am sure of is that they will vote in less numbers than the “old guard” that lined up with me at the UCC church this morning. And what the impact of their votes will be, I certainly won’t know till sometime tomorrow.

That’s why elections, despite all the polling and money poured into them, still produce unpredictable outcomes.

Should it be any other way? I don’t think so.

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