Responses to my email on Al Franken

Thank you to all of you who took time to respond to my email about why I did not call for Al Franken’s resignationI received many responses, and about 90% of them supported my position. There were so many that I can’t respond individually, but I read and appreciated all that were not ugly (only a few were ugly). I have also been approached in person by many DFLers who are angry at what happened and happy to see my email because they thought they were alone. I am sharing a sampling of the responses so you can get a flavor of the reaction.

On Sunday, former Governor Arne Carlson weighed in with a similar sentiment. You can read the entire piece here: http://govarnecarlson.blogspot.com/

Here are a few of the responses I received. (Initials only, to protect the privacy of the writers, some edited for length.)           


I would like to express my support and agreement with your statements regarding Al Franken. As a woman approaching 60, I worked in a male-dominated of engineering many years and understand the challenges and patterns of behavior. No doubt lots of crap has gone down over the years and needs to stop. But all scenarios are not the same as you so eloquently stated thank you. 

The concern for me is that it has become more about sexual behavior in isolation rather than the behavior around gender that truly threatens women's paychecks. Both are extremely important, but somehow grabbing someone's ass instead of their paycheck is much more titillating. In the rearview mirror of my career the bigger impact is most certainly those instances where my career and paycheck were threatened. Often times they are intertwined, but we need to pay attention to both not just the more salacious events and pictures.

Best regards and thank you —SS

           

I deeply appreciate your common sense with regard to Al.

Unfortunately, this choice of party over person has soured me permanently on the democrats. Pick another party - you KNOW we need one - you’ll have my support, money and vote. I will never support the democrats again, and sadly, will abstain before I vote for one. —LG

 

Fantastic write up. Thank you, and I hope you are my next Governor.

—CG

 

Very well written. I agree completely. I am mad that we will not know the truth.  I feel cheated that our Senator was forced to resign for something he may not have done. Sexual harassment is deplorable, but so is being forced out by anonymous allegations without a hearing. Where is the due process that America is noted for? I feel Al was cheated. 

Keep up your measured, reasonable thought process. It will suit you (and all of us) well in your future endeavors.  —LD

 

I agree that it is a great disappointment that too many democrats called for Senator Franken to go as soon as the first allegation became public, seemingly without any due diligence on their part and certainly no due process for Sen. Franken. It would have been very difficult for Senator Franken to go through the ethics hearing but it would have been much more important to have gone through the process and establish the FACTS of his misogynist behavior. This really does nothing to bring attention or justice to the transgressions of "Judge" Roy Moore or Donald Trump. Their bestial reaction will be to gloat about how they can get away with it. 

There is now a feeling among many I have spoken with, male and female, that a lynch mob mentality prevails, with little proof more than "he said, she said,,,". Let's punish misogynism wherever found, but with thoughtful, measured response rather than continue the circular firing squads.

This message was read and approved by the important women in my life.  —NW

 

I really appreciate this email and statement from you. Like most women I know, I've had dozens of experiences with men in my lifetime that occupy a gray area somewhere between "inappropriate but harmless" and obviously wrong. Yet, I fear that we're missing an opportunity for learning and growth if we continue down this path of casting out every man who has ever crossed into that gray space. It's an important "ah ha moment" for many men to realize that things they've said and done in the past, believing them to be harmless fun, can actually make women feel victimized. But, we need to allow men the opportunity to experience that moment of understanding, apologize, and grow into better people in the future. 

And, like you said, there is a clear difference in my mind between someone who has made off-color jokes, or even hugged/patted/kissed a woman without her consent, and men who literally rape or molest women and especially underage girls. 

Thanks for putting yourself on the line to speak up.  —AH

 

Thank you for standing up for Al!!! With you now.  Took great courage not to join the witch hunt. Thank you for your smart, thoughtful explanation and for the courageous action itself. Bravo!  —KB

 

Although your form letter was very well-composed and gives voice to my feelings on this subject, I have to say that over the last several election cycles I've been extremely disappointed in the DFL. The forced ousting of Senator Al Franken and the deplorable way that he was treated, became the proverbial "last straw" for me. I'll never vote again and I'll never support another political cause again. We're living in a new reality that I just can't wrap my poor brain around, and things just keep getting worse. The America I see lately sickens me, and at the same time, the political party that is supposed to fight against this madness seems to insist on disappointing me time and again. Good luck with your campaign, but quite frankly my dear, I no longer give a damn. –GB

 

It is exactly how many of my Democratic feminist friends and I see the issue, and I'm sure it took courage for you to stand up and say it. It's too easy to be bullied into false equivalencies these days. Dems have just shot themselves in the foot in a big way. 

I just made a donation to your campaign. It felt like the only positive thing I've had a chance to do politically in a long time!  —JS

 

I am not a Democrat, but a registered Modern Whig. That said, I voted for Al Franken and would do so again.

I believe that the Democratic Party is committing a mistake in trying to be "more politically correct" than the GOP by ridding their ranks of effective members like Senator Franken in the name of political correctness over insinuated sexual harassment charges. The supporters of Donald Trump do not care about any of that, and many independents are tired of the self-imposed strictures of that political posture. There is a world of difference between a sophomoric joke or momentary gaucherie and a genuine sexual assault. If the Democratic party is incapable of making these distinctions in the public sphere, rest assured that the GOP will not. Al Franken's mistakes were regrettable, but nevertheless potentially attributable to a very large segment of the US male population. In consequence the Democrats stand to reap a whirlwind of voters that believe that the Democratic party is overreaching on this issue for purely political reasons.  —DB

 

You can't imagine what a joy it was to receive your email explaining why you did not support the remove to pressure Al Franken to resign. You have the good sense and ethics to remind us of the dangers inherent in the current moment, without disputing the gravity of pervasive sexual harassment. That is a nuanced thinking that I find woefully lacking in many liberal colleagues. Thanks, and know that many of us stand behind your position.  —LS-S

 

Well said, Tina —in your letter describing Franken support. I have no doubt at all that Franken worked hard for MN. and was part of political collateral damage and sadly, had to go to show that at least Dems put country before party. I have always been an Independent voter —basing my vote on the candidate —not the party. Al was a great MN senator who will be memorable —though maybe not for his talent or humor or hard work and fairness. I think the female Democratic senators may have done Al and Govt. a grave injustice when put into the ironic perspective Franken himself described yesterday.

I saw what the Republicans did to hamper a President who was kind, honest and wise, perhaps one of the most intelligent Presidents ever! Our current President has done everything possible to scuttle his accomplishments and reputation and dismantle Democracy as we know it and bring us close to the brink of a Nuclear War —all with the support of his party. As long as I live, I will NEVER again vote for a Republican!  This is a declaration I've heard from friends, family and even strangers who feel free enough to express their disgust over the corruption that rages in the highest office of the land. I hope Mueller finishes up his investigation swiftly so the country can begin to undo the damage before it becomes irreparable.  —CF

Weekly EmailLindsay Jones
Why I did not call for Franken's resignation

Yesterday Senator Al Franken announced in a speech that he will resign his Senate seat. He still denies allegations of sexual harassment and was ready to fully cooperate with a Senate ethics investigation, but that will not happen now. Despite testimonials and support from many women who worked with him and know him well, many of his Senate colleagues decided to call for his resignation.

The national catharsis over pent-up reports of assault or harassment is good if it brings some abusers to justice, stops future abuse, and makes the world safer and fairer—especially for women and girls. It should also force an examination of how tough it is for victims to come forward and why they too often do not. But like all moments of catharsis, it has the potential to go too far. 

Even as we encourage victims to come forward, we must not treat all transgressions the same. We should be able to distinguish between childishly inappropriate behavior, abuse of a position of authority, and predatory acts. 

The credible allegations against Franken are much less serious than those against Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, or Clarence Thomas. That’s why I did not call on Al Franken to resign, why I put my name on a letter of support for him, and why I am disappointed and angry at seeing him forced out by his Democratic Senate colleagues. It’s not because he’s a friend (he isn’t) or because he gives me campaign funds (a small amount, a long time ago) or because I think no one else could do the job (of course they can). 

I’m disappointed in Democrats who called for Franken’s resignation without letting the Senate ethics investigation play out. Franken and his Minnesota constituents deserved to have the Ethics Committee do its work. We have a Republican president who bragged about sexually assaulting women and has been accused of far more than Franken. Alabama may soon elect a Republican senator—with the support of the Republican National Committee—who many believe has molested children. We did not need to push Franken out to show that Democrats have the “moral high ground” and are “for women.” 

We are champions for women when we fight for decent wages, fairness on the job, health care, reproductive rights, and retirement with dignity. We are on moral high ground when we hold the powerful accountable just like the weak, and insist that due process be given to all. 

If you want a governor who stands up for what is right and does not fold under pressure, please support our campaign

Weekly EmailLindsay Jones
Minnesota Should Reject "Amazon Sweepstakes," Champion Small Business

Recently, Governor Mark Dayton has expressed interest in joining the bidding war among metropolitan areas attempting to lure the Seattle online retail giant Amazon to the Twin Cities. MPR recently reported this rush to attract the Seattle company as the “Amazon HQ sweepstakes.” Tina Liebling, a DFL Candidate for Governor of Minnesota, released the following statement:

“I respectfully disagree with Governor Dayton’s planned participation in the “Amazon sweepstakes.” Minnesota is a great state for business, with a hard-working and well educated workforce, good schools, and a high quality of life. We should not and need not offer tax breaks to huge corporations that give them further advantages over Main Street businesses.

In the wake of Wisconsin’s FoxConn disaster, where the Chinese company was given massive tax breaks at the expense of everyday Wisconsinites, Minnesota should do right by its citizens and refuse to participate in the bidding war. Under a Liebling administration, we would welcome companies that want to relocate or expand in Minnesota and bring good jobs for Minnesotans. However, any requested “deal”—especially with companies whose business model drives may have negative impacts on Minnesota’s small businesses, natural resources, or other assets—must be evaluated by whether it has broad benefits for ordinary Minnesotans that outweigh any public costs and risks. If we keep making special deals for large corporations, we will continue to hurt small, local businesses in every Minnesota neighborhood.

Governor Dayton has done many good things for Minnesota, but this situation demonstrates the need to elect a true progressive to follow him and continue a move toward prosperity for all, not special breaks for huge corporations like Amazon. A better course of action for Minnesota would be to repeal the special tax benefits of the corporations and the very wealthy who have captured most of the benefit from the growing economy and increased productivity of workers. Then we should use the money to help ordinary Minnesotans get the education and health care they need, start small businesses, and revive our towns and local economies.”

StatementLindsay Jones
Liebling proposes legislation to level the playing field for communities threatened by loss of hospital services

AUGUST 21, 2017: Today, Attorney General Lori Swanson and officials from the Dayton Administration will meet with leaders of the “Save Our Hospital” organization to discuss potential solutions regarding the pending reorganization of Mayo Clinic Health Systems hospitals in Albert Lea and Austin.

Representative Tina Liebling (DFL, Rochester), a candidate for Governor of Minnesota, issued the following statement:

Residents of Albert Lea and the surrounding area were blindsided by the news that their community would lose general medical, intensive care, and obstetric inpatient services. I sympathize with their concerns about the impact on patients and on the future of their community. They know that having these services nearby can sometimes be a matter of life and death.

An important role of state government should be to “level the playing field” between Minnesotans and powerful entities with enormous impact on their lives, but current Minnesota law does not provide protection against sudden and arbitrary reduction in hospital services. That is why I will introduce legislation to insure that no other Minnesota community will be similarly blindsided.

My legislation will provide communities with advance warning when a hospital is targeted for closure or a substantial reduction in services. The Minnesota Department of Health—which licenses and oversees hospitals—would hold public hearings on the justification for the reduction and its impact before such changes could occur.

Hospitals enjoy enormous public support, but mergers and acquisitions of healthcare providers have reduced competition and sometimes leave patients with few options. It is reasonable to require these entities to explain to the public, and to the Minnesota Department of Health, why they believe that the decision to close a hospital or reduce services to a community is in the public interest, and to give the public a chance to weigh in.

StatementLindsay Jones
There Is No Alternative

This summer I’ve been traveling the state, talking with as many DFLers as possible about the direction of our state and why I’m in this race. I tell them I’m a bold progressive from Greater Minnesota, I turned a 30-year red district to blue, and I have been elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives seven times. 

I tell them I grew up in Minneapolis, with a dad who took me all over the state and taught me that the heroes of Minnesota are the people who work hard every day to make life better for their families, themselves, and their communities. Dad taught me that those folks matter more than the wealthy CEOs and power-hungry politicians who think the world was made just for them.

I tell them I’m a lawyer with a degree in Public Health, I’ve been married almost 32 years, and I’ve raised three kids. My first grandchild was born this year. I worked my way through college at the U of M when you could still do that, and I hate that today’s students don’t have the same opportunities I had.

Then I tell people that—of course—we must elect a DFL governor to succeed Governor Dayton, but that person must be able to stand up for our values and not be bullied or intimidated. And that’s what I’m known for in the Minnesota legislature: fighting for the everyday heroes who need someone on their side to stand up to the corporations and special interests. 

I never put my finger in the wind to find out which side I should be on, so you always know who I am, where I stand, and that every decision is for the people I serve.

I’m in this race because Minnesota needs a bold progressive to lead us forward—because too many Minnesotans are still not getting ahead. They can’t get the health care they need without going broke, can’t afford child care or higher education, are drowning in debt, and can’t afford to retire. I believe Minnesota can do better, and I’m ready to lead. If you want the next governor of Minnesota to be a bold progressive, There Is No Alternative.

Weekly EmailLindsay Jones
Purposeful direction and indomitable courage

Last week, we saw two Republican women, US Senators Murkowski and Collins, stand up for their constituents in the face of enormous pressure, eventually joined by Senator McCain. Their display of political courage gave us hope.

The ideal of courageous, caring political leadership is in the DNA of Minnesota. Our state has produced several fine examples. One was our 22d governor, Floyd B. Olson. 

In 1933, the depths of the Great Depression, conditions in Minnesota were desperate, with many farm foreclosures, high unemployment, and families in despair. Governor Floyd Bjornstjerne Olson, child of poor Norwegian immigrants, called out “the failure of government and our social system to function in the interests of the common happiness of the people.” Olson called for state government to become an agent for social and economic change through progressive income taxes, unemployment insurance, social security for the elderly, equal pay for women, and a minimum wage. 

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On the wall of the Minnesota Capitol, across the hall from the governor’s office, is a memorial plaque for Governor Olson, who died in 1936 at only 44. I often pause to read its words:

“Born in near poverty and schooled in adversity, intimate with hunger and want. Out of this crucible came pioneer leadership with the purposeful direction and the indomitable courage to seek new frontiers of economic security for the underprivileged. To that which he wrought an enduring memorial is builded in the hearts of his people.”

Too often, our government still fails to function in the interests of the “common happiness of the people.” I’m running to fix that, to carry on the tradition of Floyd B. Olson.

Governor Olson, we love you still.

This is for you, Bud

In today's economy, a high school education is no longer enough. A successful career usually requires strong basic education and advanced skills. Too often, talent goes undeveloped and potential is unrealized because families can't afford the education their children need. 

Enter Budweiser. Really. Budweiser has posted a moving video in which actor Adam Driver delivers an education scholarship to the deserving daughter of a wounded veteran. The scholarship will pay her $44,000 (gulp!) tuition bill so she can complete nursing school.

We congratulate this young woman, who can now pursue her dreams and give back to others because she is both worthy and very, very lucky. But how many of us can count on Adam Driver to bring a check?

Smart, dedicated young people should not have to hope Budweiser-or some other corporate entity or charity-will give them a chance to succeed in life. Their government should help them because their success helps us all. Minnesota should offer two years of free post-high school education for every Minnesota student, so they can make their dreams happen and make us all proud.

A Mugging on the Corner

Years ago, I was attacked on a Minneapolis street corner by a group of girls who wanted my purse. I was coming from my waitress job and was not about to part with the few tips I had earned. They beat me up but did not get the purse. After that I took up karate. Self-defense is a basic need and a right under Minnesota law.
 
The desire to protect self and family is why many people want a gun: a gun in the home, a gun at the workplace, a gun carried on the person. But America is awash in guns, and they have not made us safer. Too often, they kill or injure their owners or other innocent people-either accidentally or intentionally. Too often, an impulse that could pass becomes a suicide when a person has easy access to a gun.

Reducing gun violence in Minnesota should start with making sure that people who can't safely handle guns-like criminals, the mentally unstable, and children-don't get access. We need common-sense laws-like universal background checks-to keep guns out of the wrong hands. No policy works perfectly, but we can still take steps to reduce injury and death from firearms. 

We all deserve to feel safe and secure. The gun lobby pushes extreme policies and stokes fears in order to sell more and more guns. As governor, I'll stand up to the gun lobby and support reasonable gun laws that make all Minnesotans safer.

Pay Us What We're Worth

We Minnesotans are hard workers and our state's many successes show it, but too many feel themselves on a speeding treadmill they can't get off. Many work two or three jobs-without benefits-just to survive. There's little job security, health insurance is an expensive nightmare, education and training are out of reach, and retirement is a luxury many can't afford.
 
In 2016, Bernie Sanders told us that the economy is rigged. It's still rigged! From 1973 to 2014, working people raised their productivity by 72%, but the typical worker's pay and benefits went up just 9% over the same 41 years. (Where did the extra go? CEO pay went up over 940%.) No wonder so many hard-working Minnesotans feel so desperate.
 
What can Minnesota government do to unrig the economy? Plenty! First, raise the minimum wage! Require earned sick leave and paid family leave! Offer free college or technical training! Deliver universal, single-payer health care, so everyone gets the care they need and no one has to limit work or stay in the wrong job just to keep affordable insurance! Strengthen collective bargaining rights!

Minnesota can deliver policies that lift up our workers and their families. As governor, I'll fight to make Minnesota a place where work really pays.

The Personal Became Political

June is Pride month.
 
We have come a long way in Minnesota and in our nation. Being openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer is safer and more widely accepted than it once was—and as it still is in many parts of the world. I've been privileged to see things improve and to have helped make positive changes in the Minnesota legislature.
 
That terrible day in May 2011, when the Republican-controlled Minnesota legislature voted to put marriage on the ballot, galvanized people across the state. The cry for dignity and recognition of the humanity of LGBTQ people was a powerful motivator. People who had never been active in politics found themselves phoning strangers to discuss their own lives and the lives of their families. The personal became political and the political, personal. Love won at the polls and—after some prodding—the new DFL legislature made love the law in 2013.

The struggle is not over. Republicans control the legislature now, as they did then. They have filed bills for the "religious freedom" to discriminate and gave a committee hearing to a bathroom "privacy" bill. As Governor, I will stand strongly on the side of LGBTQ people, and all people fighting for the right to live their lives in freedom and dignity, and I will veto any bills that try to push LGBTQ people back into second-class status.