Conscience Over Pragmatism

Besides writing for the campus newspaper at the University of Minnesota-Morris, The University Register, I also occasionally contribute a column for the Morris Student DFL when I can’t delegate the task to someone else in the organization. It was published on April 15, 2010.

DFL COLUMN – April 15, 2010

By Joshua P. Preston

While I know that there are many well-qualified candidates vying for the DFL endorsement for governor, each with their own spin of the party-line and policy niche, it’s easy to sit in silence and assume that regardless as to who gets to claim full party support for the general election, any DFL governor is better than no DFL governor. Although true – I think most Minnesotans are sick of 20 years of GOP and Jesse Ventura rule – such an idea dismisses each of the candidates’ differences and makes us focus only on that which has little practicality: Where are they from? Are they electable? Are they a good public speaker? Are they fresh?

Instead of thinking of whose vision is best for the state of Minnesota, we focus on petty details; instead of voting for what we believe to be right, we compromise our conscience and give into the notion that only centrists win elections even though that is not the case. The people who win elections are those who speak to the issues at the center of our lives – employment, the environment of our own backyards and our children’s education – not those who are willing to change themselves to make their message more palatable to “the average voter.” We are after all the party of Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone, and there can be no arguing the fact that the more we compromise on the issues we claim to stand for, the less we really stand for them.
As the College Caucus Chair of the Minnesota Young DFL, a statewide organization that boasts more than 20 chapters, when I talk to other politically-engaged students, I participate in the same exchange over and over: “There’s one candidate I really like – I mean, I agree with everything he stands for and would love for him to be my governor,” they say, to which I respond, “So are you volunteering for them?” “No, I am volunteering for Candidate B – why? It’s because Candidate A won’t win.”

“Well of course they won’t win!” I want to scream to them; “When you don’t stand up for whom you believe in, who you believe in isn’t going to go very far!” In fact, it reminds me of a quote by Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

The future of Progressivism rests in our hands and it is up to us to see to it that it reaches its fullest potential; if we want a world that respects a woman’s right to choose, that gives to all of its citizens gay or straight the same rights to the pursuit of happiness, that guarantees a world-class education to every child and that emphasizes community over the mentality of “I’ve got mine; you’ve got yours and that’s just fine,” we need to stand up, make our voices heard and not give into the temptation to support that which may be pragmatic.

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