It’s 2015. We still can’t ride hover-boards or pilot flying cars. Worse yet, Minnesota consumers can’t buy liquor on Sundays. An archaic blue law remains on the books which bans such commerce on the Christian sabbath. An effort to repeal the ban has become perennial, failing session after session despite broad public support across party lines.
Facing heat for his vote against Sunday liquor sales, Republican state senator Dave Brown took to his Facebook account expressing frustration:
Brown’s post was likely in direct response to yours truly. In testimony before the House Commerce Committee, speaking on behalf of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, I had described the Sunday sales issue as a litmus test for determining whether elected representatives believe in individual rights and free markets. I also called out Brown by name in a social media post following the vote. I went on to describe the issue as “a line in the sand,” a phrase repeated by Brown in conversation with constituents.
Fair enough. Let’s consider the perspective offered by Brown.
By his logic, constituents may not fairly condemn votes on issues of liberty so long as greater violations take place anywhere in the world. Since few issues claim the gravity of Islamic beheadings, this effectively means constituents may not rightly complain about anything.
The best response to Brown’s claim comes from Craig Westover, retired journalist and former communications director of the Republican Party of Minnesota.
Brown and others of similar mindset think this is about buying booze. It’s not. It’s about the principles which Republicans campaign on, and whether activists and voters can trust that those principles will be applied to issues both grand and trivial. Indeed, if we can’t trust legislators to uphold principle on matters of lower priority, on what would we base expectations for issues of higher priority?
The excuses didn’t end there.
See? We don’t have a free market anyway. So why would anyone expect a legislator to vote for a free market? Makes sense, right?
In the final analysis, according to Brown, Minnesotans don’t just need to wait until beheadings end in the Middle East before they can buy a beer on the sabbath. They also need to wait until business licensure and municipal liquor stores are abolished.
Missing from this order of legislative operation is an actual justification. Why do we have to wait? What is it about voting to end an archaic blue law that somehow prevents action on any other issue? Was Brown too busy fighting Middle Eastern beheadings to vote appropriately here?
Another brand of deflection was exhibited by Democrat state senator Jim Carlson:
Don’t blame me! It was the committee chairs.
Right. Look, we all get how the game is played. The committee chairs answer to the leadership. The leadership answers to their caucus members. The whole process is set up to deflect responsibility and set up plausible narratives to excuse inaction or wrong action. It’s a tired old schtick that doesn’t impress anyone anymore. Voters expect better.
Cross-posted at PJ Media, where comments are welcome.