Panel Offers Bold Conservative Solutions



The “Minnesota Conservative LeadershipPanel” kicked off a week of events planned by conservative student groups on the University of Minnesota campus.

The panel included Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Osmek, State Representative Drew Christensen, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. All brought an interesting perspective to the way in which they have engaged with conservatism within their respective positions. All members of the panel indicated that the general public unfortunately looks upon conservatism negatively, seeing it, as County Commissioner Johnson pointed out, as an ideology of “No.”

Johnson pointed out that the opposite is true, stating that within the Hennepin County Board he votes no roughly once every seventy votes. Christensen also challenged this notion toward conservatism, and considered bipartisan relations to be crucial to having a successful legislature, and that in the last session, “every bill had to be bipartisan.” Christensen claimed that he, “Says no to the crazy taxes and crazy spending,” but is at the same time “offering up positive solutions” to Minnesota constituents.

Osmek elaborated more on this point by saying that conservatives in Minnesota are optimistic with a, “Let’s try something new, we need to replace the broken system that is in place” type of mentality. In fact, Osmek even pointed out that conservatives find themselves in agreement with inner city liberals on some of these points, especially when it comes to the issue of school choice.

“Some inner city Democrats recognize this problem, and want to change the system, as it is an issue that greatly affects their constituents,” Osmek said.

It is in this area that conservatives have a provenly successful solution, which is the implementation of more charter schools.In fact, this issue of education dispelled another myth about conservatives, the belief that they are hostile towards minorities and diversity.

“Disparity based on race when it comes to education has lead Minnesota to rank worst in the country in most studies of the educational achievement gap,” Johnson said, “In a good year Minnesota will sometimes rank 48 or 49.”

All the members of the panel were in agreement that many of these challenges facing Minnesota needed to be solved on the local level. Osmek explained how he found the 10th Amendment to be key in defining his role within government. The amendment reads,“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In other words, Osmek believes a large portion of issues should be left to the states to decide, and even then sometimes it is best if issues are solved at the local level. Johnson saidthat local officials have a great deal more “accountability to their constituents” than do state or federal office holders. Christensen added to this by arguing that making government more local it becomes more responsive to constituencies, especially for, “young people looking for jobs after schooling.”

The panel challenged many perceptions of conservative lawmakers, and perhaps changed the views of some people in the audience. One takeaway from the panel was clear, Minnesota conservatives have solutions in mindforMinnesota’s problems, and are working hard to implement them.