On the eve of this election, I am looking for folks on our ballot who will use the offices they seek to help us reweave the fabric of our shared public life. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of political leaders tearing apart our democracy and damaging our climate. We deserve better, and we can vote for it. Even more, Minnesotans have a track record of stepping up at critical moments to vote for a better future for all of us.
I am clear-eyed about threats. Nationally, a majority of Republicans nominees for major office believe the ‘big lie’ that President Biden didn’t win the 2020 election. Nearly a quarter of Republican legislative candidates in Minnesota agree. Yet another U.N. report shows that while we are making progress on climate change, it’s nowhere near what’s needed.
So yeah, we have work to do. And we can elect leaders in Minnesota who will help us.
I’ve spent the last month digging in on how our state constitutional officers and legislators can help us build the multiracial democracy and equitable climate solutions we deserve. And wrote a series of essays about it.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
We’ve got huge federal climate investments coming our way thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. Our governor is the single most important official for making sure we as a state take advantage of this money to build a better climate future. We need a governor who will propose big climate investments, who will appoint climate leaders as agency commissioners, and who will make sure environmental review is done right. We need to elect a governor who will lead on climate. Period.
We are in the middle of a fight to determine how fair our climate and clean energy economy is going to be. Our attorney general is key in this fight. Will we elect an attorney general who will go after big fossil fuel companies for committing fraud by lying about the harms of the product they sell? How about an attorney general who will prioritize consumer protection to make sure the clean energy economy is fair to all? I sure hope so.
In this critical moment for our democracy, we need a secretary of state – essentially our chief elections officer – who uses the office to help run free and fair elections and build trust in this critical foundation of democracy. Proponents of the ‘big lie’ have no business being anywhere near this office. Or any elected office.
Our state auditor is important for addressing the climate change risks in our state pension investments. Why does that matter? Because Minnesota has $124 billion of assets under management that are an essential part of retirement security for thousands of Minnesotans.
Finally, the state legislature. As a whole, the legislature is the biggest player in building climate solutions and strengthening our democracy. The legislature can pass climate bills like requiring 100% carbon-free electricity and invest a good chunk of our state budget surplus in climate solutions. Individual legislators can grow our ability to build democracy through day-to-day relationships with constituents. Only the legislature can do these things. And we need our House and Senate to be full of climate and democracy champions.
So, in this critical election, we have an opportunity to step up as Minnesotans to vote for better futures for all of us.
As Minnesotans, we’ve done so again and again. A decade ago, we voted down the constitutional amendment that would have stopped same-sex couples from marrying the person they love. That same year, we voted down an attempt to amend our constitution to make it harder for everyone to vote. We Minnesotans made it clear that our democracy belongs to all of us.
And we are still Minnesotans. Yes, we are Minnesotans living through a pandemic, with the heartache and grief that entails. We are Minnesotans navigating through an ongoing racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd. We are Minnesotans who’ve choked on the wildfire smoke blowing here from out west and who watched in horror as insurrectionists attempted a coup in our nation’s capitol building. Through all of this, we’ve stayed focused on building a state that works for each of us and all of us.
I myself, I’m a Minnesotan who is more than ready to step up to vote for a multiracial democracy and a safer climate future. Even more, I’m ready to stand arm-in-arm with my fellow Minnesotans doing the day-to-day work of reweaving the fabric of democracy. And of resisting the efforts to tear this fabric, and us, apart.
Join me in voting by November 8. Then let’s continue the work of building the future we deserve every day after that.
Dr. Kate Knuth Is the founder DemocracyAndClimate.com.