I filed a post at my Up North blog at the Star Tribune this morning that you may wish to check out. The theme is contrasting the widely-circulated “narrative” about northern Minnesota mining politics (that mining will dictate the outcome of the Nolan/Mills race, or shape the outcome of statewide races) with what I see as practical reality:
The Iron Range lacks economic diversity. There are fewer professional jobs for spouses. The downtowns struggle because Range towns have been detached from mining activity for half a century. Miners can live in the country and shop online; and many do. I teach at a Range community and technical college. Only two or three of my students in any given section have parents who work in the mine, though many have grandparents who did. My students are gas station clerks, certified nursing assistants and Wal-Mart stockers. That’s because those are the kinds of jobs that most Rangers have now.
In the study of physics, scientists talk about matter and “anti-matter” and “dark energy,” unknown forces that represents what we don’t know about how the universe works. In MN-8, we have mining and something else: an unknown force that represents the real demographic and attitudinal shifts that began when Butler Taconite closed in 1983 and has continued until this day.
Read the full post at StarTribune.com and join in the conversation.