He’s a pragmatist, underneath all the required posturing
Tom Emmer was the guest speaker at a local chamber of commerce meeting I attended some years ago. I was representing a new healthcare facility in his district and was at the chamber breakfast to hear him speak and to network.
I don’t even remember the subject, but I remember thinking he was a pragmatist and speaking to him privately afterward, thanking him for his position.
Mind you, I am not a member of his party. In terms of the party, he’s very conservative, but he’s not a member of crazy.
These are my biases:
- He had experience with good governance, as Minnesota is a good governance state. He knows what expectations and a functioning government should look like. Like many of his party, I bet he has permanent teeth marks on his tongue from biting it so hard.
- He’s had experience with the national party and fundraising for lots of his fellow congressional colleagues. He’s learned to say things to get along and go along. The same with being his party’s Whip.
- He has to live in the soup that is currently Republican politics, and he can. I mean, he is the representative for Minnesota’s sixth district. The representative for Minnesota’s fifth district? Ilhan Omar. They are about as opposite as I can imagine.
- His policy positions on any number of issues are objectionable to me, but so are the positions of most candidates for speaker. I don’t even get into a discussion of his positions, because if he is a pragmatist, he lives in the real world. Which is something for a Republican. For example, his current position on abortion is that it is a decision best left to the states. (He and his wife do have seven kids.)
- He loves infrastructure. If you go to his congressional webpage, there is a long list of infrastructure projects in Minnesota. We know the infrastructure bill got to be a joke in the Trump administration, but who doesn’t like infrastructure?
- He believes in getting things done, as opposed to being an obstructionist. We need to get things done. Reportedly, there are a host of bills that have bi-partisan support that could be moved forward. Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Thune introduced a bill to support rural broadband service — that kind of bill. I mean, even though we have all had to live in the land of crazy, there are lots and lots of little practical things that could get done.
- He looks like a Republican speaker. He has gray hair and a meaty, not fat, face. He used to coach hockey. He lives in a suburb. He probably has a firm handshake.
Now all of that may make him objectionable to the crazy wing of the Republican party, but yeah, so be it.
It wouldn’t be crazy for him to ally himself with some of the more conservative Democrats if there is any room in the political calculus for some Democrats to vote for a Republican speaker. I mean, I think we can all agree we need somebody.
The biggest counterargument I could make is that I don’t really know any of the other candidates, which is true. But Tom Emmer checks the boxes of what I could live within the current circumstances of the current situation. Maybe you, too.