The latest from "What's Your Power Analysis?" we return to our conversation with Doran Schrantz of Faith in Minnesota as she reflects on the significant political and legislative achievements in Minnesota, following the Democratic Farmer Labor Party's trifecta victory in 2022, underlining the strategic organizing and power dynamics that made it possible.

What a difference a year makes. When I spoke with Doran Schrantz of Faith in Minnesota in the inaugural piece for this series in June, 2022, she laid out an incisive history and sophisticated power analysis of her own organization’s work and the broader statewide landscape. We talked about the creative and unusual (for community organizations) forms of power they exercised in the pivotal 2018 Governor’s race. But at the time they still had a divided state government and not much scope for progressive legislation.

As most readers will know, in the subsequent statewide election in November, 2022, a broad statewide movement helped win a “trifecta” for the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party, re-electing Governor Tim Walz, holding the state house, and flipping control of the state senate to the DFL by a small but consequential one seat margin.

Years of base building and political education coupled with a strong movement-wide electoral program succeeded in setting up the first potential opportunity in 10 years for everyday Minnesotans to move bold legislative solutions to the serious problems they struggle with every day, and for the DFL to follow through on the promises they’d been making to voters for years on that agenda.

Now, we all know that Democrats gaining trifecta control of a state or the federal government doesn’t automatically lead to enacting broad swaths of progressive policies. But something else was going on here. 

A lot has already been written and discussed –– and rightly so –– about the details of the major legislative wins on economic, racial, and gender justice for all Minnesotans during the last session. You can see a list and read all about them here, which I encourage you to do because it is as exciting as you’ve heard and some of it is breathtaking in its boldness and clarity. 

This interview –– as you’ve hopefully come to expect –– will focus on questions about the multi-dimensional power that has been built behind this agenda over many years, how it was wielded, and what opposition power was faced down –– successfully in most cases.

Doran takes us back to the last DFL trifecta in 2013, which was not nearly as successful, and walks us through the lessons that mature movement leaders and base organizations, with a relentless focus on power, learned and then systematically applied over the last 10 years. 

She lays out a compelling description of the strategic capacities and “apparatuses” of base power and leadership that were critical elements of their ability to prevail on so many fronts.

We dive further into understanding the Minnesota Values Project –– an unusual and deep strategic alignment based not only on values but also on mutual respect for the real power each player brings to the MVP table –– from key base movement leaders to key co-conspirators among the statewide elected DFL party leadership in the Governor’s office and both houses of legislature. For more on MVP and its role please check out the YouTube recording of the powerful panel discussion sponsored by The Forge & Convergence, which I recently moderated with JaNae Bates of Faith in Minnesota, Liz Xiong of LIUNA Minnesota/North Dakota, State Senator Erin Murphy, and State Representative Liz Olson.

There is so much for all of us to learn from the work in Minnesota –– this year and over the last decade.



I know a number of organizations and constituencies have been involved in the years of work building power that led to the wins in this year’s Minnesota legislative session. We are going to focus on Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH’s role and also on your analysis of the overall power that was exercised and dynamics that were at play. First, paint me a quick picture of the breadth of the base organizations and other allied actors that have been involved.


There are a set of longstanding institutions with organized base constituencies and members with  multi-issue visions and agendas and the capacity to move a long term strategy. Obviously, there is Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH and other base groups among different communities such as UnidosMN or the MN Farmers Union, and key coalitions and alignments that have the ability to do successful advocacy and move constituencies through multiple legislative sessions. There are also grassroots constituencies who mobilized on some of the particular issues such as gun violence or abortion rights. The role of labor in MN cannot be underestimated. Organized labor is still the largest institutionalized force in the Democratic coalition. Most prominent in this past session were MN AFL-CIO, Education Minnesota, SEIU, LiUNA, MN Nurses and the trades unions. 

I would also name that there are some national-to-state mobilization organizations that successfully delivered on the ground constituencies such as Moms Demand Action on gun violence and background checks. And some critical coalitions/alignments that bridged labor, community organizations, and advocacy groups such as 100% Campaign (clean energy and climate justice), We Make MN (taxes and revenue), We Choose Us (democracy and voting rights), Great Start MN (early childhood and childcare), etc. 

Driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and the fight for undocumented immigrants to gain access to healthcare benefits also had a whole interconnected set of groups and constituencies. Unidos-Minnesota was an anchor and there is also longstanding leadership from COPAL-MN and MIRAC and many others. Anytime there was a hearing or vote on these issues the Capitol was packed. 

You could see what was being backed by organized partners at the Capitol because all of these configurations can consistently deliver people to peak moments, ensure testifiers, have communications strategies, and can deliver on in-district activity such as town halls, letters to the editor, actions, roundtables, etc.  


Give us a brief flavor of how the session began and how it flowed after last year’s election giving the DFL the trifecta control of the state government.


After an election, leadership of the House and Senate caucuses, as well as the Governor, will speak to press and signal the “meaning” of the election and do this by naming what they believe voters wanted. This is a real thing and a signal. Meaning, there is real indication of what “voters wanted” based on the election outcome. But it is also a signal that is shaped by the elected leadership. So Speaker Hortman signaled a few things the day after the election. She said, we've been given a mandate and it's climate, abortion, and democracy. She also said that this was the moment to do what they got elected to do. She also tweeted, “LFG.” This was not a message about “bi-partisanship” and there was no signal about “overreach” as a concern. 

The Governor signaled similar things. When asked about working with Republicans, he said that they bet everything, including blocking a bill to spend the ARPA money and the surplus, on winning the House and Governorship and “they lost.” So, we are moving ahead with our vision and our plans. 

What is critical to note about this set of signals is that (1) in 2013, the last time the DFL had a trifecta, they spent a lot of time sending messages about “overreach” and held back on fully advancing a governing agenda and lost the next election anyway; (2) organizations and legislators and partners in the Governor’s administration have had reflective and intentional conversations for years about what we would do if we ever again had the opportunity to fully govern; and (3) all of this was signaled with a one seat majority in the MN Senate.  So it was clear within hours of the election that the DFL leadership of the House and Senate, and the Governor, intended to unapologetically move ahead with an extremely robust agenda. 


You’ve said a critical part of the real power context here is all the work over the past 10 years –– and that 10 years is a precise number –– it goes back to the last time there was a DFL “trifecta” in Minnesota, where the party held the Governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. 

Talk to us about that 10 years of context, what lessons you learned after that trifecta 10 years ago, and what you all have done between then and now to build and wield power.


Some of my analysis about what all happened in the last 10 years that made this possible is not that there was the hugest coalition ever or that everybody got along in MN. No. That's not what happened.

We came out of the last trifecta in 2013-14, which was a completely different experience than this one. There were a set of people and organizations that said “We need a different infrastructure to govern.” Actors who came to this conclusion include key leaders in the legislature, leaders within significant parts of the labor movement, base organizations, and a number of other key advocates and issue coalitions.

And it wasn't like there was a ten year plan on a piece of paper, but there was a shared analysis and a set of shared experiences over time. There was enough knitting together of those people, and a set of decisions that got made. 

For Faith in Minnesota, our own organizational decisions were about the kind of power and base that we knew we had to build, the kind of politics that we had to engage in (including making the decision to build our c4 and PAC to engage in overt politics), in order to shift the fulcrum of the center of the democratic governing coalition and consensus. 

We had to develop an agenda that we could build enough alignment around, inside and outside the party, State Capitol and Administration, during elections and between them. We had to start to imagine what fluid, ongoing, and strategic infrastructure or “apparatus” we needed.


That's a helpful word. Say more about what you mean by “apparatus.” 


What's the apparatus you need that gives leaders positioned in particular places the capacity and resources and enough strategic alignment that unleashes each of them to play their role? That is a huge part of what the Minnesota Values Project was, which you and I talked about in our discussion last year. It's very fluid. It's not staffed. It’s elected and “outside” organizational leaders working directly with each other. 

MVP is a space where elected leaders and organizations and some coalitions, etc could create shared goals, shared orientation, agenda-set and, over time, work through real problems, fault lines and strategize. But organizations, coalitions and DFL policy makers are individually playing their role and making their contribution around building necessary power. 

Based on a shared analysis and agenda, you and I talked last time about the importance of what happened in terms of Faith in MN’s members’ and leaders’ engagement in the DFL Party endorsement processes, from precinct caucuses through Senate district conventions. The importance of building that kind of ongoing permanent base and capacity in local places [in legislative districts] that can organize people through electoral processes and into governing processes.

We also talk a lot about the 2018 election in particular. That was the open governor's race [when Tim Walz first won the Governor’s office]. But the 2020 and 2022 legislative elections were as important, or perhaps more important. So if you think about the Senate shifting in these particular Senate districts in ‘Greater Minnesota’ [the parts of the state outside of the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro region], these are not “progressive” places per se, but given the work done over these past several election cycles, the state senators now come into the 2023 legislative session and they are already committed to childcare, already committed to paid family leave, restore the vote, drivers licenses for immigrants and already committed to 100% clean energy. They've already made those commitments in their campaigns for multiple cycles. 

And there is a legit in-district base of people for each of those senators that are behind this agenda. When the legislators experience the full labor and community alignment on the agenda, it's pretty helpful.


“Helpful” is one word for it!


They experienced that on the Party’s Senate convention endorsements floor. That helps to change what the center of the party’s agenda is. 


Connect that back to the work in the legislature over the past ten years since the last trifecta.


The thing that a lot of us understood coming out of 2013 and 2014 was the center of gravity and governing orientation of the State Senate DFL caucus had to shift. 

I think people from some other states could relate to this. In 2014, the makeup of the DFL Senate majority made it difficult for us to pass a minimum wage increase. It took everybody completely aligning, and maximal pushing to get them to raise the minimum wage with indexing, even with a DFL Senate majority. And it wasn't a one seat majority back then. They had a multiple seat margin. So, how can minimum wage be such a fight? Let alone driver's licenses or restore the vote, or family leave. And big environmental stuff? That was just off the table. 

So there's been a broad contest over the center of the Democratic (DFL) party that has been unfolding for the past 10 years around a governing agenda and priorities–regarding racial justice, climate action, economic justice. And enough of that contest has been won by candidates and policy-makers who wanted a more “progressive” governing orientation–the phrase we  have used is we need candidates and policy makers who will advance “an agenda that is bold enough to meet the crisis in peoples’ lives.” My take is that it is slightly less important what their ideological orientation is and more important what their strategic orientation is, governing priorities are, and who they believe they are governing on behalf of. There are lots of fronts where this contest played out and means by which a new governing orientation emerged. Some organizations used primary challenges, others used the formal Party endorsement process. Some organizations used the power of their own screening and endorsement processes and others focused solely on agenda-setting/policy-making. It took all of this and it was not exactly centrally “coordinated” which would have been impossible.  

But then you also have Governor Tim Walz who also committed to large parts of this shared agenda and ran on it in 2018 and 2022, even though Governor Walz speaks to a much broader part of the democratic coalition than the “progressives” (as he should) and plays an essential role in holding the whole Democratic coalition together. So you're balancing a set of realities, meaning ensuring that the whole Democratic coalition and the constituencies that make it up are held together–rural/urban, moderate to progressive to left, working class to middle and upper class, etc that I talked about in our last “What’s Your Power Analysis?” interview. Those things are extremely real. 

That being said, this legislative class has the most women and most people of color in the House and in the Senate caucuses than ever in the history of Minnesota. That's not a coincidence. That's a shift in power dynamics. And it's not only about representational identity, although that is important. It's about who those legislators think they're serving. What is their sense of history? And what is their governing orientation?

Another important factor to note is that the DFL has had a majority in the state house since 2019, and we’ve been moving a lot of these agenda items in the house during all that time. In a way they have had ‘rehearsals’ on moving all these bills. Rep. Liz Olson, who was on that Minnesota panel we did in September in DC with Community Change Action. Rep. Jamie Long, who is the state house DFL Majority Leader. Rep. Melissa Hortman, who is the speaker of the house. The state house DFL caucus has become a very powerful, cohesive engine for shaping and passing significant legislation. In 2019, and again in 2021, they already passed all these bills. They passed them twice, and as a movement we rehearsed passing all these bills with them and learned from it. Also, now all those individual house members’ votes are on record on each of these issues. They already voted for it. 

So all those things happened in terms of the make up and the power in the legislature, and that was because of intentional organizing and strategic alignment efforts.


On the power analysis of your side –– you and your allies –– there is one key thing I’ve been struck by about Minnesota and the way you all have built the power you’ve built to date. This is a topic for a longer conversation someday. 

You know I grew up as an organizer in California and I recently interviewed Anthony Thigpenn and Sabrina Smith of California Calls about their statewide power analysis. The power analysis there is very similar to Minnesota on this one point –– and it’s very rare what you’ve done in MN and what they’ve done in California. 

What I mean is that on the community organizing side in Minnesota, Faith in Minnesota, ISAIAH, and your partners have built grassroots community power at a scale and at a level of sophistication that puts you in a real meaningful peer relationship with a powerful and aligned part of the labor movement. By ‘peer relationship’ here I mean when two powerful groupings come together to co-create a shared agenda and co-strategize the plan to move it.  

Too often the reality in many places is that community organizing groups have not reached anything near that level and scale of power to be in that kind of strategic relationship with some of the most powerful unions in their city or state. 

My outside perspective is that things would have happened very differently, would have looked very different over the past few election cycles and in this recent legislative session if this hadn’t been the case.


That is interesting. I think that is probably true in California. And speaking just for ISAIAH / Faith in Minnesota, it has been a mountain to climb for us to build that level of power and to grow those kinds of strategic relationships.


And it’s because you have your own bases and leaders in all the key parts of the state. You have your own direct relationships with the party leaders –– with the Governor and in the legislature. You raise all your own resources, for the organization, for the campaigns you run. No other organization brokers or mediates any of those dimensions of power for you.


Right, at this stage of our organizational life, no one has to broker anything for us.

It also means we’ve built strong enough and mature enough organizational and leader relationships, including with our key labor allies. We don’t always work together on every single issue. We don’t always agree, but there is enough shared vision and analysis and enough trust built up that we’re able to sustain our broad alignment.

And that kind of mature leadership is a real movement capacity resource. In addition to the base grassroots leadership that’s at the core of our organizations, there is also mature organizational leadership: leaders positioned in various organizations and structures across different powerful sectors of the movement. There's a set of people who are always on some level managing the “geopolitics.” 


That's profound. And that's not replicable without a lot of experience and sophistication and each leader understanding their role in those bigger movement “geopolitics,” as you called it, in addition to knowing and moving their individual organization’s agenda and mission…


…and having good power analysis.


Right! Let’s go a little deeper on what you mean by creating those strategic conditions and developing the orientation and the leadership capacities.


It was kind of fun to go back and read the power analysis conversation that you and I had last year. Because then it was like you're climbing up the side of a mountain and we were in a different place on that journey than we are now!

There are a couple of headlines. One of the things that is really important to understand is we sometimes pretend we can do things like predict the moment. Did we know that this was the year we were going to get the trifecta? Absolutely not. 

But was there enough in place that meant we were clear and we were ready? “We” meaning the wider “we” of people and organizations who had power and were going to wield their power toward winning an agenda? Were “we” ready? Yes.

By “ready,” I mean you can construct the strategic capacities and the apparatus and the leadership and the orientation such that, when the moment comes, you can strike to advance your agenda and you can disadvantage the opposition’s power. 

So I think that one of the major lessons of the ‘tale of two trifectas’ in Minnesota is what does it mean to be strategically prepared? You can prepare leadership, you can prepare an orientation, you can prepare a governing agenda. You can align leaders across all these different sectors around that orientation, around governing. What are we going to get done when we win? You can shift the mode from a tactical list of issues to what does it mean to have structural power. 

We actually did a bunch of things between 2013 and 2023 that created the strategic capacity such that when we had the moment where we had this particular trifecta, even with a one vote Senate majority, you could move a governing agenda and do it aggressively, be as aggressive as the other side would be. And move so fast that they cannot keep up with you. 


Let’s talk about the opposition. What do you think is most useful for people to understand about it? Given the trifecta, given the slim Senate majority, given the history, what form did the opposition power take and what can we learn from that? And it could be on the things that you won: what opposition was there and how did you overcome it? Or the couple things that didn't get won: what was the opposition power there and what do we learn from that?


So on the right wing infrastructure in Minnesota… The other thing we (larger we, here) all have to be thinking about is are we, over time, weakening their infrastructure? And I think we have successfully done some things, even if it was not fully by design. 

We did things that did weaken them. And there are also external conditions that weakened them. For example, the demographic changes in the state and the sort of increasing concentration of the state’s population in the Twin Cities metro area. It means you can get close to holding a majority in the state house just with that eight county metro region. A state-wide race can be won by the enormous footprint of Hennepin County (Minneapolis and Suburbs.)

That metro area has 3.5 million people and is growing. The metro has more people and a greater number of those “white, college-educated” folks and a BiPOC community growing in both numbers and political power. It is more racially diverse and younger than parts of Greater MN. Then you can shift over time the politics of that house majority because there are more women, there are more BiPOC people and more of them are from the cities. So that's number one. 

Number two, that narrowed their base. The Republican party base got increasingly MAGA-fied. The Republicans who are in the state house in particular are more Trump-ified. And that's been not just from Trump, that goes back to 2010, to ‘no new taxes,’ the ‘tea party,’ that whole thing.

So they're very beholden to that wing of the party. This is part of what you and I talked about last time, where it took a while for the Democratic coalition to catch up with that reality. It is asymmetrically polarized. Things that worked in 1998 when you could pass some bi-partisan education policy that was basically reasonable enough that a Republican representative out in Wayzata would agree with that deal, it is not possible anymore on any significant policy.

So that has been a journey, I think, for the Democratic coalition. Republicans got more and more narrow, and marginalized the people who are the most strategic leaders, like a Tim Pawlenty [former Republican Governor from 2003-2011, and the last Republican to win any statewide office].

Then, there is the business conservative bloc of the Republican coalition. They have not diversified their political portfolio. Their PACs and advocacy arms are very right-wing and all-in on the Republican Party. The consequence is that very few Democrats have anything to lose, including Governor Walz, if they simply steam-roll them in the context of a session like this one. The truth is, there is an “anti-MAGA majority” in MN. Republican candidates are too extreme. And the corporate-conservative infrastructure has not found a way to build a truly politically powerful relationship with Democrats. 

Not yet, anyway. 


That’s really helpful context on the broader landscape and recent history. Let’s dig in a bit now on the particular opposition forces and how things went down this year in the legislative session. Talk about some of the specific groups and the specific fights to give us a window.


There are several key opposition groupings. The Center of the American Experiment, which produces policy ideas for them and produces platforms and operates to shape the public discourse toward a conservative agenda on education, immigrants, taxes, etc.  There is the Minnesota Business Partnership and, then, the Chamber of Commerce, which is an incredibly potent force in the state of Minnesota. 

The thing that I learned about the Chamber of Commerce in this legislative session, which I should have understood before but did not fully grasp, is that the nature of the Chamber's power is not the Fortune 500 companies. I mean, that provides money. But it's the local Chambers, the active and robust groupings of 80-150 small- and medium-sized businesses and business leaders within a legislative district, that have the ability to block and tackle momentum and stall or even flip legislators' votes. So if I'm a state senator and I go to my local Chamber of Commerce meeting and there's a hundred furious local business owners in that meeting, that scares the shit out of me. And it should. 

So on paid family leave, that is what we faced. The Chamber named Paid Family and Medical Leave as their number one priority to kill. And it mobilized grassroots, localized power bases that are very, very real. 

So you can’t just say it's “the 1%” or it's “Wall Street,” although the big corporations are absolutely backing the Chamber. On the ground, it looks a lot more like Gary who runs the local sporting goods store. And I think this is a tremendous blind spot in a progressive power analysis. We know that “corporations” are powerful and that voters do not love corporations. But you know who voters listen to and legislators really listen to? They listen to Gary from the local sporting goods store. And they should. If I was in charge of the Chamber of Commerce, I would double down on this infrastructure. And I would diversify my PAC giving by a lot. 

So the Chamber and the Minnesota Business Partnership put all their chips on the Republican side, and have for years.


Even in 2022?


Yes. I don't think they'll do that again. 

But this year, they came out after we won the trifecta in the election, and they were like, “our number one enemy is paid family leave. That's what we're going to try to kill.” 

They really thought they could kill it.


You mean the Chamber?




And they weren't just trying to bargain for what's excluded, what's the cutoff, etc?


Not until a few larger corporations broke off and sent their HR lawyers in to do some deals. But at that point it was so late. We had gotten through all the committees and earlier they wouldn't deal.


So in their power analysis, they thought they could just say no.


Yes. They were just “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.” And I think they thought, from their previous experience, if we scare the shit out of these Democratic senators we can win. Because all they have to do is pick up one senator. They just needed one senator.

So what we were doing was hand to hand trench warfare in a set of Senate districts with Local Chambers of Commerce. Here's an example in Mankato. There's a very important senator there, and a really big, local Chamber of Commerce. It's called “Greater Mankato Growth.” The guy who's the head of it, he's the local big fish in the pond. He was so against paid leave. Got the Chamber all revved up. 

But our organizer and our local leaders went around and had meetings with small business owners and organized their own pro-paid leave roundtable. Soon after, at a local Chamber retreat, some members in that retreat were like, “we feel [disrespected] by Greater Mankato Growth. We were never asked whether we supported paid family leave.” So the importance of that is that the opposition became more conflicted. More publicly divided. This gives the Senator in that district more room to move. 

We had to do that type of work in a whole bunch of Senate districts.




Finally, the Republican Party has run terrible [statewide] candidates. No “moderate” Republican can get through a primary for statewide office because their base is so asymmetrically polarized. 

On a statewide level, we could lose. It absolutely is possible that a Republican could win a statewide race in Minnesota. But recently, the Republican Party hasn’t been able to nominate an electable person to run statewide. The guy that they put up for Governor against Walz in 2022 is an anti-vaxxer and Covid conspiracy theorist and an extremist on both democracy and abortion.

They also have much less money now. They've had brain drain, leadership drain, resource drain. And the people who could fix that, who have power, meaning the Fortune 500 companies and the Chamber, and the Center of the American Experiment, who are funded by all those entities, have just placed all their bets on one side as opposed to the other.


Now my final big picture questions: What have you all learned in this last year that you didn't already know? Also where does the power map go from here? What are the opposing forces going to do? What does your side need to do in the next few years or few cycles? Also, what are you worried about?


I would say I'm more convinced than I ever was before about the connection between hyper-local, or in-district, organizing and legislative power. It relates back to that local Chamber story.

I don’t mean hyper-local without amplification. You know what I mean? If you're trying to hold 34 votes in the Senate, How does a local leader and local organizer have a power analysis in Mankato or St. Cloud or White Bear Lake, that is sharply about “who has power HERE?” Not just how many members we have. It is not enough to have a small activist rump group. 

We have to understand the power of influencers and the power of institutions within a given district. The guy who runs the Chamber of Commerce really matters. Those 30 business owners really matter. The local teacher who has a network in her school and through her union with large numbers of active people... Those people matter. 

A lot of our organizations and campaigns are often thinking that Fox News and all these other right wing info sources are drowning everything out on the other side. And I would say, not really. In local places or even statewide in Minnesota, Fox News or a nationalized media narrative is not drowning everything out. And it is absolutely possible to overcome nationalized politics when you have real relationships in real places. 

In fact, in Minnesota and in Rochester, MN,  the Mayo Clinic is definitely more powerful than Fox News. Especially on the question of whether their state senator votes yes or no on paid family leave. That part of our power analysis has to get more sophisticated and developed. 

It's sort of like if you go to a prairie and you see it from the sky. It just looks like a bunch of grass. But if you get underneath and you see where all the things are living in an ecosystem and the roots create hiding spots and this thing's connected to that thing, and that thing which you couldn't even see from a distance is going to kill something else. You know what I mean? You’ve got to be down in the roots in order to see what's really going on. And once you see what's really going on, you can operate inside that and you can change the conditions, change the political decisions being made. Oh my God, does it matter! 

But a couple of other lessons would be about how a governing moment like this also illuminated the landscape on our side. 


What do you mean? 


Whether you have the capacity to play or have your own “readiness” and governing orientation. 

When the trifecta governing moment came about, if you're an organization and can't figure out how to get something done in this moment and you're not going to play? Then, you are off the board. 

So it was revelatory about who was serious about governing and all of its needed capacities like negotiation, imagination, and solving problems. 

The quote that I've been using inside our organization is: “The answer is yes. And how?” Not “No.” We have to be a “yes and how” organization. How are we going to get it done? How are we going to support what’s needed? I don't want to have a conversation about why such and such senator is a sellout. I am only going to have a conversation about “why is so and so prevaricating on a vote?” I want to ask the question, WHY? “Why is so-and-so expressing concerns? Who is in their ear? Who are they talking to? What are they worried about? What else is going on that we can't see in the prairie under the roots?” 

We have to be curious about that person and their political fortunes, and why they think what they think. I promise that the reason they are acting the way they are acting has something to do with power. And power is dynamic, relational, and can be changed. 

So, I don’t want to hear “so-and-so's an asshole.” The question is why?


And what are we doing about it? 


Right. What are we going to do about it? So having that orientation as opposed to armchair criticism or critique or marginalizing yourself or being only on the outside. Acting from that orientation moves an organizations’ power forward. Not having that orientation moves some others backwards in terms of the amount of power and influence they have, by refusing to play, not having the capacity, or being completely unprepared to play. That would be a lesson. 

The other thing, in terms of the future, I think the empire will strike back. 

I think if business or major corporations decide to flip some of their orientation towards the Democratic Party… 

There were parts of our agenda this year where it's not just that we lost, it was that the power differential was so big. The Mayo Clinic could stop the nurse staffing bill in its tracks [by threatening to move billions of dollars of future planned investments out of the state].

If we are going to learn lessons from that, why did Mayo get what they wanted, but the Chamber didn't?

There's a bunch of these opposition groups that are really about corporate power and I think they will adapt. They're going to learn their lesson. That’s when I look at New York or California. When you start having a majority Democratic trifectas all the time, although I don’t think Minnesota is there at this time, when it’s no longer new, then you will get into a dynamic where it's even more “Dem-on-Dem crime.” Essentially, some people may get courted more by powerful and organized corporate business interests. And I think in Minnesota, there has to be a whole strategy around that, anticipating that and figuring out how to mitigate it. I'm not saying we're a permanent Democratic majority state, I think we're not at that point. 


And on the question of what your side has to do going forward?


Now we're doing implementation. The other big set of questions we are wrestling with really deeply are, okay, you win all this shit. It has to get down to people. For those of us who think government and public solutions are a big part of the answer, our political fortunes ride on whether or not those things actually work to make people’s lives better. And it's very hard to make things work. 


The wins have to actually happen in people’s lives, and people have to understand that it happened because of…


Right, that it happened because we did this together. So we have to take responsibility and move a plan for making sure things get implemented well and that people know we won these things by organizing together.



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