Walz/Flanagan and voting your values

There’s a lot of chatter on social media about the Minnesota governor’s race and the benefits — or myth — of electability. As a left-progressive Democrat who supports Walz/Flanagan, I am watching these conversations with interest and am keenly aware that the issue will weigh heavily in the outcome of the governors race.

I support Tim Walz because he is a progressive who has a record of achivement — against all odds. There is something about Tim’s character and demeanor that has enabled him to win in one of the state’s most conservative districts while simultaneously communicating to conservative voters about the power of progressive policies to create strong, safe, healthy and more equitable communities.

Because we are fortunate enough to have two strong progressive candidates in Tim Walz and Erin Murphy, Minnesota voters have had to take a long, hard look at the reasons why they might pick one over the other. It is through this examination that the issue of electability has risen to the fore.

Some have suggested that electability is a hollow myth employed to sway voters. They chafe at polls and other indicators and proclaim that electability would not be an issue if we all simply stopped worrying about it and voted our values. Others have asserted that voting for the candidate you believe has the most state-wide appeal means compromising progressive values.

In some elections this might be true, but in the case of Tim Walz I believe the opposite is true: Walz has statewide appeal because of — not in spite of — his core progressive values.

Tim Walz’s record shows that he has earned a measure of respect that has translated to ‘electability’ because he has not given up his core values or shied away from tough policy discussions. My friend Javier Morillo-Alicea wrote about this eloquently:

(It is) “a false narrative to suggest that one can’t vote one’s values *and* be strategic. This is why I support Walz-Flanagan. Walz has sat in a very conservative district, having run originally on marriage equality, standing up for trans service members, with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. He voted against the bailouts because he knew from talking to folks in small towns that resentments toward corporate power and regular people getting screwed were chickens that would come home to roost. Has he been perfect? No, but it is a lot easier to be pure on every issue when being elected in a safe seat and never having a competitive election.”

Image from Walz/Flanagan Facebook page

I believe that Tim Walz has earned his electability through hard work and by convincing voters that the policy initiatives and values that so many of us hold dear are good for our state, our communities and our future. It’s a heavy lift and not all candidates have this gift. Javier goes on to say:

“(Walz’s) partnership with Peggy Flanagan sealed the deal for me. She is a progressive champion who stands out from the other two LG candidates. Rick Nolan’s covering up of sexual harassment disqualified him — and while I like Erin Maye Quade, her (Murphy’s) choice betrayed a lack of seriousness on two things: winning back the House and countering the very effective wedge Republicans have created between Minnesota rural areas and our cities. The 2016 electoral map, which had Minnesota almost go in the Trump column, is the result of years of progressives losing ground statewide. If we do not turn the tide on this, we will soon be Wisconsin. In the House, Maye Quade’s seat was the only one that flipped red to blue in 2016. (Murphy’s) choice (of running mate) put us on defense in yet another district. I’m voting both my values *and* the ticket with the greatest chance of winning across the state in a way that can help us win back the Minnesota House.”

Thinking and voting strategically is not reneging on our progressive values. In fact the opposite is true.

In a state-wide race electability means the unique ability to speak honestly, thoughtfully and without condecension to voters in an increasingly partisan environment. It means bridging the age-old gap between residents of our state’s metro areas and its rural communities. It means listening, witnessing, and winning the trust of people from many different backgrounds, and doing so in an authentic way.

I have never missed a vote in my life. I come from a generation and a family where voting was considered an essential part of being a citizen. I do my research, I vote with care, and often with passion for candidates I deeply believe in.

My vote is my voice and I am proud to support Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan. Oh, and one last thing on voting my values: I think it is beyond high time we see Native leadership in the highest level of state government.

Camille J. Gage is a Minneapolis based artist and writer.