BY GABE LICHT
BUFFALO, MN US Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) touted the strengths of Wright County; reflected on the state of Washington, DC; and weighed in on what he believes are the important issues of the presidential election during a Wright County Economic Development Partnership meeting Thursday.
“We’re home to 205 manufacturing firms,” Emmer said. “You forget how important Wright County is to the economic engine of this state. We have the fourth highest labor participation rate in the state of Minnesota. It’s darn near 77 percent. If you think about how that compares, think about nationally, the labor participation rate is as low as it has been since the 1970s. It’s close to 60 percent.”
Emmer thanked the partnership for aiding in the growth of the county, and shared optimism for future growth.
“Hopefully, in the next year or two to come, when we get through this really pleasant experience we’re all having with the election . . . hopefully, when we move into the next phase, we’ll experience some growth like we saw when we were much younger,” Emmer said.
Before weighing in on the election, Emmer was asked if there is “hope amongst all the negative news.”
“You have to take what I say with a grain of salt because the second I believe there’s not hope, I’m done,” Emmer said.
He believes the hope is coming in the form of new blood, as nearly 70 percent of the 535 legislators in the House and Senate have turned over since 2010.
A fellow first-term representative, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) once said to Emmer, “Do you know how much we can accomplish if we just don’t overreach?” and Emmer said he agreed with that concept.
“We have a long way to get back to where our founders intended us to be,” Emmer said. “ . . . It’s not about blowing it up or burning it to the ground. It’s about rebuilding, and moving, and making sure it happens. I think there’s a ton to be hopeful for.”
He said the biggest issue will be removing some of the longstanding politicians, including some in his own party, as well as looking at issues as nonpartisan.
“I don’t like the word bipartisan,” Emmer said. “ . . . We should start talking about nonpartisan. What does bipartisan tell you? . . . That means half of you are here and half are there. These are nonpartisan issues.”
Before asking Emmer to weigh in on four aspects of the upcoming election, an individual admitted he lived in the Third Congressional District, served by fellow Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen.
“I’m sorry for all the rest of you,” Emmer said with a smile. “He has great representation, and you’re stuck with me.”
Joking aside, the individual identified immigration, Supreme Court justice nominations, the Affordable Care Act, and law and order as critical issues when it comes to voting in the presidential election in November.
Emmer addressed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare; first, noting that his former opponent, Gov. Mark Dayton said the ACA has become no longer affordable.
Emmer referenced one expert who said, “All we have to do is eliminate the mandates and it will solve itself. You will inject competition back into the marketplace and create a gem.”
Emmer combined his answers regarding immigration and law and order.
“The immigration thing is all rule of law,” Emmer said. “Are we a country based on the rule of law, or are we a country where the rule of law doesn’t matter?”
Of the four issues, he spent the most time on the topic of Supreme Court appointments, calling it “the biggest issue.”
“Donald Trump said, ‘I would appoint someone in the image of Anton Scalia.’ Hillary Clinton said, ‘I will appoint someone who has real-world experience,’” Emmer said. “I think that tells you everything you need to know. On one side, we have a party that doesn’t believe the Constitution fits the times . . . On the other side, you have people who say the beauty of this great experiment is this document called the Constitution. It’s a living, breathing document that doesn’t change.”
Emmer estimated that the next president could appoint up to three Supreme Court justices, who will serve a minimum of 20 to 60 years.
“They can rewrite the Constitution from the bench,” Emmer said.
Regardless, he believes the states will have more power in the future, as evidenced by the legalization of marijuana in several states.
“The federal government has it listed as a schedule-1 substance. It is illegal,” Emmer said. “Guess what? The states are saying, ‘We’re doing it anyway.’ That is, in effect, what the 10th amendment provides. Are they (Supreme Court justices) even going to be relevant in the future?”
He did not weigh in on the presidential candidates themselves, but did make a suggestion regarding the upcoming election.
“Tell your neighbors elections have consequences,” Emmer said. “I’m not going to tell anybody what to do. Just make sure everyone you’re around is doing their homework and looking at the facts.”