Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Revisiting my Minnesota days and hoping that Minnesota doesn't lose what sets it apart from states like Arizona

As most people who visit this blog know, I am a native Arizonan (sadly, it embarrasses me greatly to admit that right now). But of our almost-30 year marriage, my husband and I lived 12 of them in Minnesota. And it was there that we celebrated the births of two of our 3 children and learned what it felt like to live in a progressive state whose most famous natural resource is Minnesota Nice. Those were, without a doubt, 12 of the best years of our family's life.

My husband and I were not political at all back then, but we absolutely loved the quality of life we had while living in Minnesota. What we didn't realize though (and wouldn't realize until we moved back to Arizona) was that there is a very strong connection between quality of life and the political leanings of a state's politics. I couldn't believe the number of MN laws and ordinances on the books whose sole purpose was to ensure that quality of life that kept Minnesotans from moving away. It is why most of my neighbors were born in Minnesota and knew they would never, ever live anywhere else.

We are back in Arizona now - my husband and I - and I must confess, it has been a harsh (and that is putting it mildly) wake-up call seeing and living the differences between the two states. Where Minnesota was a very progressive leaning state, Arizona is an extremely conservative leaning state. And the differences could not be more clear, especially these past 3 years. Our children never did adjust fully to the differences between their beloved Minnesota and their new home Arizona. Each of them accepted scholarships to out-of-state universities and never looked back. And as I write this, none of them have plans to return. And I don't blame them.

Don't get me wrong, I love Arizona, but I am feeling especially hopeless about Arizona right now. I deeply mourn the harm that has been done to this beautiful state by the political and religious extremists who run our government right now and I see nothing that will bring my children back here or the many other young and promising people who have fled to more progressive pastures. It feels as though the only thing fueling Arizona politicians right now is fear and loathing of the "other". And the crazy laws they are passing or trying to get passed reflect the growing list of people who now qualify as the "other" in the eyes of our governor and legislators: SB1070 (anti-immigrant law), SB1188 (anti-gay adoption law), Proposition 102 (gay marriage ban), the Birther Bill (which was passed by the legislature, but thankfully vetoed by the Gov) and inspired by suspicions of a man who dared to run for President while Black. And trust me, I could go on, but I just had lunch..

So what got me thinking about all this? Answer: a clip I saw over at Andrew's place. A clip that managed to both warm my heart and take me back to those wonderful days as a Minnesotan while also making me realize that even in a progressive state like Minnesota there are politicians who, like the extremists in the Arizona legislature, believe that singling out certain segments of our society and making them the "other" by denying them rights and dignity is a winning strategy. Let's hope the young lady in this video clip sets these misguided legislators straight. It would be such a tragedy to see Minnesota Nice give way to the same kind of nastiness and bigotry that has overtaken Arizona Politics.


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