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Letter: Wanted: heavy lifters

We all know what heavy lifting means. Road construction requires heavy equipment. Big cranes lift bridge trusses, and load and unload ocean vessels. Sometimes a person that gets hard jobs done is called a heavy lifter. Most of the time, people who are heavy lifters do not brag about it but let their work speak for itself.

In politics, heavy lifters not only show their leadership by initiating policies, but also by challenging policies that are bad for their constituents and the state. This is especially true when you have to fight either alone or with little support from others.

It was only last June when the headlines screamed about the governor’s buffer bill. To the governor and the metro area the bill was about buffering ditches, but to the landowners and farmers in greater Minnesota, it was the governor’s land grab. Under the governor’s plan, productive land was economically taken without monetary compensation in the name of a plan to supposedly greatly reduce nitrate and phosphate pollution in water. However, there are gaping holes in the so called “science” of this one-size-fits-all approach to a problem. Fortunately, the governor and his supporters were stopped from implementing this draconian plan because a few heavy lifters had the courage to stand up to him and his plan.

The buffer bill battle for the next session is already warming up. Since Jay McNamar has thrown his hat into the ring, it makes one wonder where he stands on the buffer bill and what he wants it to look like. No doubt he has kept up on the issue. In view of his past record of voting so frequently with the metro area, it may be safe to assume that he would have voted with the governor’s plan. Does he still side with the governor’s original plan? Will he now publicly declare his intentions or will he just be silent on the issue to “play it safe?”

Rep. Jeff Backer was one of the very few heavy lifters who sounded the alarm and doggedly fought against this land grab. Eventually, his tenacity and leadership was embraced by others and the land grab was greatly diminished and even supported by some rural DFL legislators.

It is easy to go with the flow politically and side with popular issues. It takes a strong leader like Jeff, who will go it alone if necessary to protect his rural constituents from a metro onslaught.  But that is what heavy lifters do.