Nifty PR chess move, but substantively silly. That’s how I’d grade out Governor Dayton’s suggestion yesterday that a mediator be brought in to help facilitate a solution to the state’s budget crisis.
PR-wise, the move is another brilliant move from a fellow who long seemed to have a bit of a tin ear when it came to public relations. A new public opinion poll this week is confirming what a Star Tribune poll recently found — that Dayton is fairing much better than Republican legislators in the Capitol cage match. His tax increase is polling 31 percentage points ahead of the Republican Legislature’s cuts only approach, and Dayton’s job approval rating is 32 points ahead of the Legislature’s. Who woulda thunk it, but the Tax Increaser In Chief is kicking ass just a few months after the Tea Party’s Great Shellacking of 2010.
And this move probably won’t hurt those numbers. Suggesting a mediator is so reflective of Minnesota Nice values. It plays into Minnesotans’ conflict adverse, middle-of-the-road instincts: “Oh geez, Ole, why can’t dem guys up der just get someone to help them figure it out then?”
Anyway, the maneuver seemed to work. The Republicans’ rejection of the mediator offer further cemented the public perception that Republican legislative leaders are refusing to compromise.
But beyond PR, come on Governor. I suspect Dayton knows this, but he, Zellers and the gang are the mediators we hired for this job. The Founding Dads designed a representative democracy, rather than a pure democracy, which means voters hire people, through elections, to mediate public disputes, rather than 5.3 million of us trying to resolve disputes mediator-less. Given that, it’s silly for our appointed mediators to appoint mediators who aren’t electorally accoutable to the citizenry.
So, Dayton’s mediation maneuver was a deft PR chess move, but the Republicans did Minnesotans a favor by quickly shutting that idea down.