People’s House Series: Claiming the role of our government

Minnesota State Capitol Building

Earlier this week, a friend brought up the push at the Capitol to legalize marijuana. He said, “Why would they introduce it if it’s not going to pass?”

It’s a really important question.

Honestly, I don’t know if or when it will pass. But I know why they introduced it.

Senator Melisa Franzen and others are carrying out the will of the people–that’s their job and they’re doing it.

I’ve been thinking about this all week (it’s been a long one, riding out the polar vortex).

It’s time to claim our narrative about the role of government

The role of our elected officials is to carry out the will of the people. It’s to listen to us. Minnesotans have been clear about their support for legalizing marijuana – more than pot, we need restorative justice. It’s wrong that so many POC and low-income Minnesotans are in prison right now for possession. Senator Franzen is carrying the people’s message.

As we navigate the politics of marijuana and every other issue, we have the opportunity to be crystal clear about the role of our elected officials and the values we’re grounded in.

We’ve been Lied To

For decades, conservative narratives have undermined the role of our government. That’s how they got so much wealth and power concentrated into a few greedy hands.

Right-wing narratives and stories about our government have been developed, spread, repeated, and amplified for decades on talk radio and cable news.

Shared values like freedom, hard work, family, and security have been used against the interest of white, Black, and brown working people.

I’d argue that for a long time, it’s not that progressives “sucked at messaging,” it’s that we’ve struggled to operate from a place of values.

Sometimes, we get stuck in a dominant right-wing frame (return on investment! good for business! reduce government!) or have good ideas that we don’t connect to a deeper principle. But this is changing.

Changing the Story at the Capitol

A people-centered government works for us, white, Black, brown, and Indigenous. The role of our elected officials is to carry out the will of the people. Our government is responsible for checking corporate power that–without laws in place–will exploit workers, pollute the water, and profit off addiction.

As we end this week of session, I’m proud of Sen. Melisa Franzen for starting the conversation about legalizing marijuana + restorative justice. And Rep. Laurie Halverson for supporting a family-friendly economy with paid time to care (#PaidLeaveMN). The responsible, bipartisan leadership of Rep. Liz Olson and Rep. Dave Baker leading the fight to end the opioid crisis. These are #MinnesotaValues in action.

Let’s reclaim the role of a people’s government and make more possible. Let me know what you think: kenza@takeactionminnesota.org or @kenzahadjmoussa

Join us for Party at the People’s House on February 28, TakeAction Minnesota’s Day on the Hill.

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