I'd like to tell you a little bit about Floyd B. Olson, who was elected governor of Minnesota three times in the 1930s. He helped forge the Farmer-Labor party, which was a hell of a lot of work, since he had to hold together an alliance of the Nonpartisan League (farmers), organized labor, and small businesses.
He had a strong, engaging personality. His policies helped Minnesota through the depression. His enemies branded him a communist, and he was unapologetic in his advocacy of state ownership of industry and utilities. "I do not mind being called 'red,'" he said. "I would prefer it to the term 'yellow.'"
There is a statue of Floyd B. Olson in the Minnesota Capitol, and there is a Floyd B. Olson Memorial Highway. Fitting tributes for a man who brought the state through the Great Depression, was popular and a true leader.
Now I'd like tell you a little bit about the Minnesota Taxpayers League.
They would like to erase any official mention of Olson. They want to tear down the statue and rename the highway. I think their press release says it best: "'Red' Governor's Name should be replaced by Communist Regime Slayer Ronald Reagan."
(What a title! It makes me want to write a heavy metal song.)
I don't use "erase" lightly. They want to wipe out any mention of Olson and replace it with a party man on the other side of the spectrum. The symbolism is blunt and the insult palpable.
The league describes itself as the state's premier spokesman [sic] for free-market principles. They are almost always automatically against things like new public transportation ideas, progressive taxation, and similar proposals. As I see now, however, it's also for raising taxes by tearing down statues, putting up new statues, and changing signs along highways.
Besides, Olson's middle name is Bjernstjerne. That name alone deserves its own recognition.