Congressman Penny supports John McCain. His son Marcus supports Obama. Both support Dean Barkley and Tim Walz.
For the past few months, our front lawn right here in the middle of Waseca has probably left passersby a bit confused. Side by side stand two opposing signs: one for Barack Obama, the other for John McCain. While the debate might be heating up on cable news, in campaign commercials and in the blogosphere, things have stayed relatively cool in our home.
Yes, we view the Presidential candidates differently. One of us (guess who?) went to Congress with John McCain in 1982, has worked with McCain on budget issues, and respects McCain’s genuine ability to be a maverick who works across the political aisle to get things done. One of us is excited about the promise of an historic Obama presidency — believing that it represents a forward looking agenda and a break from the disastrous Bush foreign and economic policies.
Every day, we discuss the campaign, the polls, and the latest tactics being employed by the candidates. We can agree that McCain is a true patriot who served our country with honor in the military and in the Senate. We can agree that Obama represents a new generation of leadership who inspires many (including young Americans) with his hopeful message of change. We can agree that McCain clearly has the strongest record of bi-partisanship. And, we can agree that Obama made the stronger choice for a vice-presidential running mate. In all, on the presidential race, when we don’t agree, we have managed to disagree without being disagreeable.
That is possible, in part, because we don’t disagree on everything. Our ballots on November 4th might look different at the top, but there are other candidates who will be receiving our undivided support.
We both support the Independent candidate for the U. S. Senate, Dean Barkley. Especially as the other two candidates increase the volume and the ferocity of their attack ads, it seems ever more important to send a message that “enough is enough!” Barkley served a mere two months in the Senate after the untimely death of Senator Paul Wellstone. But in that time, he cast a vote for an important trade bill, weighed-in on legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security, negotiated a waiver from the federal government so that Minnesota could continue its successful welfare to work program, and secured funding for the Wellstone Community Center in Saint Paul. Not too shabby. We believe he looks pretty good in comparison to the other candidates.
We also endorse the same candidate for Congress, incumbent Tim Walz. One of us (guess who?) worked as an intern for the Congressman for six months and saw firsthand the idealism, enthusiasm, and energy that Walz brought to the office. Both of us have been impressed with Walz’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and “pay-as-you-go” budget rules. We have watched as he led his fellow freshmen in re-establishing much-needed strict ethics policies for Congress. We applauded his recent efforts to build bi-partisan support for ambitious energy policies that will lead to energy independence for our nation. His record reflects common sense and good judgment. We both believe he has represented southern Minnesota well and deserves a second term.
So, that is the view from our house - just in case you haven’t yet noticed the signs in our yard.
Tim Penny is a Waseca resident and regular Community Perspectives columnist. His son Marcus is 23 years old and studies political science at Minnesota State University, Mankato.