Government For Good: The Wellstone! Way

October 25, 2013 at 9:22 am by: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Education, Government for Good, Housing, Immigration, Intersectionality, Poverty, What People are Doing to Change the World

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“Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.”

~ Senator Paul Wellstone ((July 21, 1944 – October 25, 2002)

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In era where government is so vilified, we at Critical Mass Progress would like to consider Government for Good. Collective governance – past present and future –  can work to defend/secure rights, distribute social and economic goods, provide legal recognition, jobs, healthcare and more., create opportunities via public schools, public works, and public policy that centers everyday people.


In this recurring feature,, we will highlight the many ways that government has worked for the common good. It is a call too to imagine what more can be done – locally, at the state level, and nationally to reclaim the idea — the reality too – that government can work to “improve people’s lives.”

Perhaps there is no better recent role model here than the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who died along with  his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia and five others, in that fateful plane crash 11 years ago today. His legacy and his words speak for themselves, and remind us, always,  of what  government for good can do. Please check the links below for more.

The Conscience of the Senate .

Thank you Paul, this one’s for you.

Wellstone’s Revenge: How Minnesota Democrats Took Their State Back

MPR, Memorials Keep Paul Wellstone’s Memory Alive

Al Franken, Paul Wellstone’s Legacy, 10 Years Later

Wellstone Action


Steve Heitzeg has put together a bench memorial to Paul Wellstone. On the bench is a photograph of a smiling Wellstone, along with a Wellstone quote about social justice. (MPR Photo/ Mark Zdechlik)

Steve Heitzeg has put together a bench memorial to Paul Wellstone. On the bench is a photograph of a smiling Wellstone, along with a Wellstone quote about social justice. (MPR Photo/ Mark Zdechlik)


nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg moderator

Similar thoughts from POTUS on the re-opening of the government last week

Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government

"We hear all the time about how government is the problem.  Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways.  Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries.  It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm.  It conserves our natural resources.  It finances startups.  It helps to sell our products overseas.  It provides security to our diplomats abroad. 

So let's work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse.  That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government.  You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position.  Go out there and win an election.  Push to change it. But don’t break it.  Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.  That's not being faithful to what this country is about.

And that brings me to one last point.  I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you.  Thanks for your service.  Welcome back.  What you do is important.  It matters.

You defend our country overseas.  You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home.  You guard our borders.  You protect our civil rights.  You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets.  You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.  And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you.  What you do is important.  And don't let anybody else tell you different.  Especially the young people who come to this city to serve -- believe that it matters.  Well, you know what, you’re right.  It does."

nancy a heitzeg
nancy a heitzeg moderator

10 years later, My brother's bench is still there. Passersby have taken to leaving $$ which is then collected and donated to Wellstone Action.. Headed there right now..