“In one form or other we [Garrison Keillor and I] both talked about our gratitude for an America ideal now grievously threatened, both [of us] having found a forum not only for whatever message or minstrel entertainment [we] had to offer but now aware of the very real threat that those rites of passage may be disappearing in the country we once idealized. You know as well as we do, Dick, that the threat is real. We can survive being outspent in this election. We can’t survive being outworked.
Again, it was great to see you and thanks for your hospitality. Let’s keep talking.”
Jim Klobuchar, July 21, 2012
Monday July 16 I was at a meeting in Roseville, and had to leave early to get to our annual Senate District picnic in suburban Lake Elmo.
It was closing in on 6 p.m., and I was already a little late, and the outside temperature was still 100 degrees.
“Who’ll bother to come?”, I thought to myself.
But there were plenty of cars in the lot when I came, and up the hill in Pavilion Two at 3M’s Tartan Park, were plenty of people. Sure, it was good to have the odor of picnic food to help mask the other frgrances…but it seemed a good time was being had by all who’d ventured out. (Many photos taken that evening can be accessed here.)
(click to enlarge photos)
After the vittles and the musical warm-up (as if we needed any warm-up!) came the speechifyin’.
My list says there were eleven speakers, including our local candidates for office. Such opportunities are essential for candidates for office, as well as for those of us who will make the important electoral decisions not long from now. I admire all of them who got up to speak, if only for five minutes.
Jim Klobuchar was early on the agenda, and had left by the time Garrison Keillor had arrived. None of us, including those who had invited the speakers, were ready for the treat we received. They are consummate professionals and conveyors of experiences as lived and observed over many years.
Jim had important stuff to say, he said, and he doubled or more the amount of time allotted. All of us fixed on every word.
Garrison, just returned from Los Angeles, where Prairie Home Companion had been on-stage on Saturday night, gave us nearly an hour, musing on his home, Minnesota, both as seen from an airplane and from his memory. We had a mini-Prairie Home Companion show, with Garrison leading us in sing-along; hanging around to chat with whomever, be part of photos, and just be with we sweaty residents of the east suburbs of St. Paul. (UPDATE: I doubt any of us knew that his mother, Grace Keillor, was near death. He didn’t let on….)
It was a phenomenal evening.
We might have left exhausted, but it was a highly energized exhaustion. We’d witnessed something very exceptional.
So, what did the speakers say?
Everyone would have a different take on that, I’d guess. Our local candidates for elected office introduced themselves and the reason they are running for office. A good place to bookmark to learn more about them, ongoing, is our local Senate District website, here.
If you’re from here, watch for opportunities to meet them. They care about this place they call home.
In my hearing, Garrison and Jim focused on how important the coming election is for the future of young people.
Our kids future rides on what we voting elders decide in November.
This Fall, more so than any in this generations memory, offers clear and contrasting distinctions between two visions of the future of this country.
Jim, who was born just before the Great Depression into a mine family in the then hard-scrabble Vermillion Range town of Ely, recounted the devotion of these hard-working immigrant miners to getting their children a good education: a passport out of the underground mines.
For most of us who know of Jim, his trail took him to the University of Minnesota, thence a long and illustrious career as a columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune; thence a leader of adventures.
He marvelled that he, the poor grandson of immigrants from a foreign land, could become the father of a United States Senator, Amy Klobuchar. Only in America.
And that opportunity for all is at risk, he said, if we don’t take a deep breath, and get to work and change our direction as a country.
Garrison, a little younger than I am, born early in the 1940s, had a message very similar to Jim’s.
His Dad was a very common man as well, in the area of Anoka, MN. Garrison’s Dad, unlike Jim’s, was very conservative, and couldn’t come to grips with people like FDR.
For Garrison, the ticket out of Anoka and into the world was public education. Medical reasons kept him out of football, and he happened upon words, found his groove at university and then in radio, and the rest is history.
Both Klobuchar and Keillor went to the public University of Minnesota, in the days when even a poor kid could afford to go to college without becoming a slave to permanent debt.
I gathered that for both of these men who’ve scaled the mountain to success, the issue this November is not how we treat ourselves and our savings accounts, but how we treat our children.
It is we, the real politicians – each and every one of us – who will make the decision November 6, 2012.