[THE THIRD WAY] Third district profile

If I wasn’t already biased before, I sure am now. I have a personal stake in the 3rd district race, as I worked for the independent-minded Democrat running for the seat, Dean Phillips. Having said that, in this article, I will try to compare aspects of both candidates running objectively.

Erik Paulsen, the incumbent, is a Republican who claims to be moderate. He claims to have broken with Trump on issues like trade and immigration, despite having never been the deciding vote on either of those issues in the House. On his own website, he Deliberately eschews talking about issues he claims to be moderate on. The only mention of immigration is “protecting our homeland,” and “reforming our broken immigration system,” which, obviously doesn’t actually say much about his policies. His rhetoric tends to be broad enough to attract moderate Never-Trump Republicans while giving himself legroom to vote with Trump. It’s foolish to just look at rhetoric when considering a candidate, voting record is, truly, the measure of whether a politician is actually moderate. According to FiveThirtyEight, Paulsen votes with Trump 97.8% of the time. This includes important votes, like the ACA repeal and the tax cut, while Paulsen breaks with his President on bills his vote wouldn’t make a difference on. Clearly, there is a difference between Paulsen’s claimed political views and his actual votes in Congress. This is really problematic. Paulsen claims in ads to be, like most of his voters, a Never-Trump republican, but never actually votes as his constituents would want him to

Phillips’ presence is warm and polished, and he’s always ready to answer questions”

That’s where Dean Phillips comes in. Phillips’ presence is warm and polished, and he’s always ready to answer questions that his would-be constituents have. Policy aside, this is the biggest difference between Phillips and Paulsen. Paulsen is often aloof, avoiding press and constituents or dodging questions about his idiosyncratic voting record. Paulsen relies on campaign ads and assumptions in order to get his message, however flawed it may be, out. Phillips, on the other hand, actively engages with everyone asking him about his plans for Congress or policy positions. If Phillips’ positions aren’t completely formed, it’s because he plans to represent what his district itself would want.

Phillips does have significant policy differences, though. His biggest issues are health care and campaign finance reform. Phillips often says, “no matter what your number one issue is, I ask that your number two issue is campaign finance reform.” He thinks that, because special interests can air ads against opponents and fund their campaigns, politicians are more willing to listen to corporations than constituents. It’s an especially important position to take in a race like his because Paulsen is one of those politicians. Phillips also takes a “third-way” view on health care, as he thinks there should be a Medicare buy-in option, rather than a fully public or private healthcare system. If the government can compete with private insurers, it improves all lives because all types of insurance will get cheaper. To me, this makes more sense than the current system, as it opens access to health care for all, and it makes more sense than single-payer because the competition will lower prices.

Like I said before, I’m biased, and I believe in Phillips a great deal. Still, regardless of political views, Phillips is a good choice for someone who lives in the third district, because he’ll listen to his constituents before making important votes.