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Jesse Ventura

Here's the shame of it all when it comes to Jesse Ventura: he's got some great ideas. Here are three of them: unicameral legislature, fiscal conservatism, and smaller government.

Now I know that these ideas didnt originate with Jesse, and he's not the only politician talking about them. But when Ventura talked about them, lots of folks listened and voted. Jesse's candidacy brought people out of the woodwork to vote.

I talked with a lot of people back in that time, and the reason they supported a feather boa-wearing former wrestler/talk show host in his bid for the highest office in the state was because he had some good ideas that other people weren't talking about.

We were excited because the more he talked about these ideas, the less the pundits liked it. But Jesse kept going anyway. He stuck to his ideological guns, and bypassed the talking heads of the media and brought everything straight to the people.

It was almost a revolution. For the first time in a long time, the DFL and the Independent Republicans were given a run for their money and lots of voters ran with Ventura.

I liked what I heard. Many of people did. We watched him take the office, and all of a sudden there was even talk of Ventura running for president serious talk. We watched him appoint unusual people to various cabinet posts, and then defend his choices. We watched him go to Asia, we watched him visit the White House. We watched him on Letterman and Leno.

Pretty soon, we stopped talking about his ideas and started talking about Jesse Ventura the man. Ventura, the media opportunist. Ventura the thinned-skinned guy who likes to call people names but hates it when its done to him.

I can't pinpoint the date that we stopped talking about Venturas ideas and what made us vote for him. But here's a way to see how far weve fallen: who talks about a Ventura presidential campaign now? I mean seriously talks about it?

Here's another way: in our own hotly contested mayoral race, one candidate was a member of Jesse's party. Ventura even did a couple of radio commercials for this candidate but not until the last couple of days of the race. No one talked about how having a Friend of Jesse as a mayor might be a good thing. Why? Where are the coattails of our once-popular governor?

I like to remind myself of the reasons I supported Jesse Ventura, so I visit his website sometimes. Heres the web address: http://www.mainserver.state.mn.us/governor/default.html

The plain-talking Ventura is still there. The ideas I like to hear about are still there.

I've never run for office, and I never will. I'm an armchair quarterback at best, but I have some free advice for Jesse Ventura and the folks who follow him.

Go back to your basics. Build your party on the platform that brought out record-breaking crowds of voters. Instead of getting in a fight with the media, bypass them and go directly to the people, the way you used to.

Normally, I don't think politicians should be concerned about a legacy, but in this case, I wish you would take the long view. Jesse, whether you run again or not, I ask you to think about why we voted for you.

I think we all knew that you would do some of the stuff you've done. I didn't care about the XFL thing. I don't care about the movies or the talk shows. Those are part and parcel of the Ventura experience.

But we voted for the revolution. We wanted Something Different and Jesse, you gave us details and good reasons to vote for you. If you don't do something, things will go back to the way they were, and all the guys who have been doing things the same old way for decades are going to say They Told Us So. And you will be marginalized.

Instead of a revolution, your election will be an aberration. Instead of a foothold for change in Minnesota politics, your administration will be a footnote in Minnesota history. And that would be a shame.

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