Why Minneapolis needs to move beyond the DFL


The specter of Captain Jack Sparrow is haunting Minneapolis. Every mayoral race, the outspoken “Occupirate,” well-known for his strange and erratic stances on political issues, campaigns against the Minneapolis establishment. Although I am not a supporter of Sparrow, his surprising popularity reflects Minneapolis’ dissatisfaction with the city’s Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. The problem isn’t that the DFL is too progressive for Minneapolis; rather, Minneapolis is too progressive for the DFL.

Minneapolis’ mayoral pool can be effectively divided into two candidate types: candidates who are Betsy Hodges and candidates who are not Betsy Hodges. The first candidate type has proved that she is willing to make change, except in terms of preventing her police department from shooting unarmed black men.

In terms of the second sort, Raymond Dehn appears capable of dethroning Hodges with his strong stance favoring Black Lives Matter and his focus on solving social problems. Yet, the stance echoes Hodges’. Meanwhile, “Star Tribune”-endorsed (read: rich business-owner endorsed) Jacob Frey says the same as Hodges, but does so while not being Hodges. Nekima LevyPounds is the bunch’s only believable progressive; her longtime pushes for a $15 minimum wage and more police accountability were more or less adopted by Hodges.

Minneapolis residents have always been proud of our “liberal city.” Electing Democrats would mean an end to racism and economic disparity, right? Wrong. Black residents of Minneapolis live below the poverty line at a rate three times that of their white counterparts; our state’s graduation rates for students of color are near the bottom. Gentrification has swallowed Minneapolis’ poorer and more diverse neighborhoods (looking at you, Seward) and the housing crisis has still put people on the streets. Remember Jack Sparrow? He got his start occupying foreclosed houses to protest the city establishment’s failure to address the crisis.

The DFL’s problem is that they focus on the symptoms of inequality, not the systems of inequality. Simply being liberal isn’t enough anymore: the worker has been abandoned in favor of the rich and white. We need candidates to work against police brutality and, yes, the structure of capitalism that enforces inequality and drives racial injustice.

I endorse David Rosefeld in Minneapolis’ mayoral race as the Socialist Workers’ Party candidate. As a former union organizer, his platform includes “amnesty for all immigrants . . . expropriation of drug companies, prosecuting and jailing cops guilty of killing and abuse, a massive public works program to employ millions of workers at union-scale wages” and further unionization of employees. Rosenfeld would work to end Minneapolis’ core problems and send the DFL a two-pronged message: that they can’t sit back on their laurels and that their neoliberal, elitist policies are no longer acceptable.

If you aren’t a fan of socialism, I am willing to respectfully disagree, and I am not saying Rosenfeld is the only acceptable candidate. However, if you care about fixing Minneapolis’ inherent social and economic problems, don’t vote DFL. Vote for an alternative candidate, such as Rosenfeld or Levy-Pounds. The DFL has failed Minneapolis.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 3, 2017, Edition of The Echo.