Last Mambo in Minnehaha


Norm Coleman’s lawyers are hinting that the only way to settle the still undecided 2008 Minnesota senate race is to hold the election again.

That would be an extremely costly admission that Minnesota’s electoral system is broken.  And isn’t one definition of mental illness repeating an action, hoping for a different result?  Anyway, repeats are boring, especially in winter, even in Minnesota.

There must be a better way to settle this.  Here are several suggestions:

Have a duel:  Norm Coleman and Al Franken could face off in the proud tradition of Hamilton and Burr.  In our infinitely more civilized era, pistols would be replaced by tasers.  The television rights could be auctioned off for charity, and for a nice second-place consolation prize along with the rice-a-roni.  Loser has to go to Washingt…. I mean, the winner.  Actually, they can both go, one as senator, the other as lobbyist.

Flip a coin: Following Dr. Freud’s advice, if We the People don’t like the way the toss turns out, then we know it was the other guy we really wanted all along.  We could survey registered independents only, for their gut reactions to the initial result.  If enough people just hate it, the other person could be declared the winner.  Or we could just flip it again, what the hey.  It’s not like re-doing a whole election.

Ask Antonin Scalia:  He has shown himself willing to deliver an unsigned opinion late at night.  He and silent sidekick Clarence Thomas do not scruple to override state decisions, even if their own family members are involved in one of the contending campaigns, as long as “no precedent” will be set.  No worries, Nino!  No point asking the other justices.  “Chief” Roberts would probably just blow the verdict announcement anyway and confuse everyone.

Forget about it:  Minnesota can probably get along just fine with a single senator.  They’ve been surviving with only one for months now.  This could set a useful precedent for other states to follow, halving the odds of senate gridlock and saving the country billions in salaries and pork   Then we can work on cleaning out the real Augean Stables, the House of Representatives.  Heck, dump em all.  Let the pundits and the lobbyists run government.  Oh but no, actually, that’s kind of how it’s been….

Let Minnesota secede:  Another potential precedent-setter from this cutting-edge state.  If they can’t count the votes, boot em out of the union.  They’ll be fine as an independent republic.  We’ll trade with them.  They’ll vote with us in the UN.  Then we can ax California for its fiscal follies.  A $41 billion shortfall?  These are tough times.  Can’t be bailing everyone out.  What’s the matter with Kansas?  Whatever.  Mental instability is also grounds for divorce.  Minnesota could pioneer a creative contraction of the country that could save us gazillions, whoever “we” may turn out to be.

JAMES McENTEER is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger 2006). He lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia.



James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

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