22 thoughts on “Featuring Open Mic Night With Mark Dayton

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    A very intriguing scenario of what the future may hold for Dayton and this approach. In the meantime such an unexpected and refreshing change-of-pace, enough to stimulate even the most cynical among us (me) that genuine efforts of communication beyond regurgitation of political ideology are possible.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I agree, nothing is spontaneous in politics, and it looks like he might be more fun to watch than one might have guessed. I liked yesterday, and it came off well. I just am not sure how it plays out long-term.

  2. PM says:

    Look, I am no fan of dayton, but I think his performance yesterday was nothing short of brilliant.

    I also think that you are probably mistaken in assuming that this is a long term model/policy for him to follow. I doubt that anyone expects this, and anyone who would cry “foul” (or even “fowl”) because he wouldn’t consistently follow this “open mic” approach would be seen as something of a crank.

    What he did was to expose his critics as foolish and misguided people who are fundamentally anti-democratic–their purpose/intention/attempt to shout him down was pointed out in a dramatic fashion.

    I loved the old vet (who accepts VA benefits as well as medicare and social security) who didn’t want government medical care to go to children.

    The hypocrisy was wonderful and revealing.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      But don’t you think publicity hungry opponents of all stripes will now be incented to flock to Dayton seeking some of his limelight? If they do, Dayton has to have a plan for dealing with it. What does he say, “Sorry, opennness and democracy was only offered as part of a limited opening day special?”

      1. Dayton sees himself as a very magnanimous character. There are ironies there. But he is smart enough to know that given enough rope — TV moments — the cloddish silliness of the hyper-conservative argument plays to his advantage. The trick is creating enough credibility-sapping, conventional wisdom impatience with that crowd that it weakens the lockstep obstructionism of Dayton’s legislative opponents.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        They look cloddish and silly to me too. But for swing voters – Independents and soft Ds especially – I wonder if the mental leave-behind from the regularly broadcast skirmishes eventually becomes “man, Dayton is polarizing, controversial and to be feared” in the same way that the orchestrated Tea Party screeching at health care reform town hall meetings caused many swing voters to conclude “man, that Obamacare is polarizing, controversial and to be feared.”

  3. Just as a matter of logistics, I worry about the precedent-setting nature of the gesture. That said, it made for wonderful theater and it worked perfectly yesterday.

    And, taking off my cynical, former political hack hat for a moment, how refreshing that people of such deeply divided philosophies could share a lectern with some modicum of civility. There’s life on this planet after all.

    – Austin

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Yes, Dayton’s PR chess move from yesterday looks brilliant today. It will be interesting to see if it still looks brilliant a few moves from now.

      The moment that made feel best about Dayton:

      Dayton called on Mindy Tomfohrde to describe her work in dealing with uninsured people in her emergency room job, and then turned the stage over to Moe, who questioned the constitutionality of the federal government providing health care.

      Dayton asked his supporters in the audience to be respectful when they snickered as Moe said he has been getting his medical care “courtesy of the VA for the past 41 years.”

      It would have been sooo easy to be petty and snarky at that moment.

  4. PM says:

    I think that all dayton has to do is to schedule regular sessions (bi-monthly, perhaps?) where he will let the cranks talk–and the smart thing to do is to ensure that it is the actual cranks, the Joe the Plumber types, and not the professional politicians, so that he can get to the underlying contradictions. Somehow, it seems to me that exposing those contradictions, the pettiness, etc., by giving it enough oxygen to burn itself out, might well help solve the problem.

    I think that a lot of this is resentment–damned if I understand where it comes from, but airing it out helps to do 3 things–make them feel listened to (so that they feel there is procedural fairness), make dayton seem more human (and likeable), and also makes them look silly to those who are undecided or unsure about the issues.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Great minds think alike. I was thinking he could open the mic at something like a weekly wrap up news conference in the Governor’s office. Then at other times thoughout the week when hecklers demanded to be heard he could say “I would love to hear what you have to say, so come to my office on Friday afternoon. I do something no other Governor in Minnesota or national history has ever done- share the mic in my office with people who want to express dissent in front of the news media. I can’t do it every day and still get my job done, but I’m committed to doing more of that kind of dialogue than any other Governor ever has. So, I hope to see you Friday for a good discussion…”

      All I’m saying is that he just needs to put some reasonable limitis on the open mic business, because opponents will keep pushing it until he does.

  5. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Should be doable. The open-mic conceit you borrow from the world of comedy clubs is limited. At ACME, and most comedy clubs, it’s Monday nights.

    It’s Dayton’s concept. He can put whatever constraints on it he needs. It’s like question time, but for the rabble. I love it.

    I suppose it’s just a matter of time, though, before the opposing party’s “plants” start to turn up for open mic’ night.

    1. PM says:

      hard to avoid the plants. probably best to give everyone a ticket, and randomly pull numbers out of the hat–say, 100 people want to speak, you agree to let 10 people speak, randomly selected, from a Town hall style event–of course some of the plants will get lucky, but the real fun will start when the party operatives try to muzzle the activists in order to control the questions that get asked. I do not expect that that will go over well.

  6. Ellen Mrja says:

    Boy do I disagree with you, Joe. As a speaker in front of a crowd or a professor in front of a classroom or a governor during a Q & A, the rule is the same: never lose control of the room.

    What a horrible idea it is to “engage” people who’ve been described as “protesters.” And I certainly wouldn’t turn over my calendars to them, either. We do not encourage others to “clog” entrances to our offices by rewarding this behavior. Instead, allow someone to speak his/her mind, perhaps, but do not engage them in “debate”. Take a couple of questions, turn your attention OFF of any particularly noisy heckler by calling on someone else, announce you have time for one more question, and then call it a day. You have a state to run.
    Or, you could have your thugs boot-stomp the heads of them.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    Once upon a time, I was a fresh-off-the-turnip-truck congressional staffer. One of my first duties, within a couple of weeks of arriving in DC, was to help a group of family farmers who came to DC to be heard during the farm credit crisis of the mid 80s. Before they lost their livelihood and way of life, they wanted to be heard, and they asked my boss, Congressman Daschle, for help. As such, these bankrupt senior citizens in grimy seed hats and coveralls were “protesters.”

    As the family farmers were marching from the Capitol to the White House, my modest contribution to the effort was to set up a microphone, PA system and mult box for them in Lafeyette Park, across the street from the Reagan White House.

    I failed. I got it all set up and plugged it in. No power. I went to inquire at the little on-site Park Service building. The Park Service boys were looking at me through the window and having a good laugh as I pounded on the locked door asking for power to give the seed hat boys a voice.

    But they no doubt had orders from across the street. The authority figures didn’t want dissent to be heard, and the authority figures had control of power in the publicly owned parks. You don’t agree with me, you don’t get “my power.”

    (Needless to say, candidate Reagan’s “I paid for this microphone, Mr. Green” moment never felt quite the same to me as it did to others.)

    One person’s “protester” is another person’s “ordinary people expressing their opinion.” Whatever we call them, I think they deserve to be heard by their elected representatives. Dissenters shouldn’t be allowed to drown out elected officials or stop them from doing their job, but dissenters should have a platform within hearing distance.

    That’s a long, self-indulgent way of saying I think there’s a balance the Governor could and should strike.

  8. Joe Loveland says:

    Similar to his outreach to the Obamacare protesters, Dayton reached out to the pinstripe tax protesters at last night’s MN Chamber of Commerce dinner:

    “I’m very delighted to be with all of you here tonight. I mean it both facetiously and seriously when I say that one of the great features of our democracy is that you and some of your friends and allies could spend three-and-a-half-million dollars to defeat me in an election and, after it’s over, invite me for dinner.

    …My office is always open to you. You don’t even have to bring a protest sign.”

  9. Newt says:

    Governor Goofy II.

    I predict the GOP will manhandle this nattering boob. A tax increase bill will never come from the legislature. And the GOP will be all too happy to let him shut down state government. Dayton will be stalked by the media as legislators return to their home districts. All eyes will be on him as the problem.

    There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s the GOP. Bend over liberals while they dismantle your bloated and dysfunctional bureaucracy. Even working Minnesotans hate the DFL now.

  10. Expatriate says:

    He said “people’s room,” but what he did said “my room” louder than any lectern-pounding bombast could have. The people came ready for an outrage tug-of-war, but instead of picking up an end of the rope, Dayton switched the game, on a whim, to something else. And the people complied. Only the owner of the room gets to do that.

  11. One of the speakers who followed Dayton was no ordinary citizen or protester. He was Jacob MacAulay, an alleged “ordained minister” with the viruently anti-gay, anti-government Old Paths Church/You Can Run But You Cannot Hide “ministry” in Annandale. So MacAulay–a paid minister and media personality on 1280 AM–got up and ranted about how churches should be picking up the tab for health care for poor people, and no one even bothered to ask him what he did for a living? Worse yet, no one in the capitol press corps recognized this creep?

    Twin Cities Public Television identified him as just a “citizen.” MinnPost’s Doug Grow referred to him merely as a “young man.” The Pioneer Press’s Jim Ragsdale IDd MacAulay as simply “involved in talk radio and Christian outreach.” The only ones who got it right were bloggers.

    Nice stealth job by MacAulay. Not a very good day for the Twin Cities’ so-called “legacy media,” who dropped the ball big-time on this one. Now, do you think any of them will do a follow-up story with MacAulay to find out exactly what his church does for the poor? I’m not holding my breath.

  12. Wanda says:

    That cruel Pawlenty?

    In today’s Strib story by Eric Wieffering, it turns out Minnesota government GREW from December 2007 to the present to 383,100 jobs, or 200 more.

    Meanwhile Minnesota manufacturers cut 37,000 jobs during that same period; retailers chopped 20,000 jobs.

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