At the close of the constitutional convention in 1787, as Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall, a woman asked him, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy." Without hesitation, "A republic," Franklin replied, "if you can keep it."
Since the beginning of 2017, there have been multiple bills that have sprung up in state legislatures across the country that crack down on our first amendment protections of free speech, press, and assembly. Some of these bills were proposed in our very own state legislature. We should always be wary when our government attempts to restrict our rights as citizens. Rights are like muscles: if you don't use them, you lose them.
The current administration has talked about revoking broadcasting licenses for news organizations that publish unflattering content, and has openly attacked the institution of the free press. There is no doubt that there is bias in our media, and this too is something that we must work collectively to address. What is much more alarming is when the government seems to be actively targeting speech that is critical of the government. It is our patriotic duty to stand up for free speech, assembly, and our press institutions because they together form the foundation of a free society.
Just as troubling as government attacks on free speech is the so-called politically motivated voter fraud commission which has drawn bi-partisan condemnation for its attempts to retrieve sensitive voter data about our citizens in Minnesota. Republican Secretary of State for Mississippi Delbert Hosemann gave the best reaction to the government's attempt to collect our sensitive data when he said: "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from...Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
"A republic," Franklin replied, "if you can keep it."
There have been many underhanded policy proposals in recent years that attempt to deprive our fellow citizens of their right to vote. Voting is not only our right as American citizens, it is our civic duty, and we must work diligently to make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote is able to engage in our democracy. I am in favor of automatic voter registration for all American citizens in Minnesota once they turn 18, with an option to opt out of registration if they so choose. I love democracy, and any elected official who knowingly attempts to make voting more difficult for us as citizens cannot be allowed to interfere with our freedom.
I want to make sure that we as Minnesotans have as many layers of protection from potential government infringement of our rights as possible, and protecting your freedom is my dedicated commitment to you as your public servant.