Do you think the democratic process is at risk? If so, why
and what needs to be done so the democratic process thrives in an
Do I think the democratic process is at risk? You bet I do! I believe it
has been stolen from citizens by a partnership of big business and big
Often, people ask me why I am running for U.S. Senate. They really question
why I have created the new Resource Party. I created the Resource Party to
restore a part of the founding father's viewpoint as to the proper role of
the federal government in our lives. The government today is so much bigger
and more intrusive than the founding fathers could probably believe. One
man or woman cannot hope to restore more than a small part of those
original ideals. And they were ideals.
When the constitutional convention was convened in Philadelphia in the
spring of 1787, the winners of the Revolutionary War were desperate. The
Articles of Confederation, our first written form of government, were a
complete failure. The national government was not strong enough under the
articles to require the States to cooperate with one another or even
contribute to the federal budget. So when the founding fathers convened
their meeting, their first concern was strengthening the powers of the
federal government enough to sustain itself. But the basic philosophy of
the Revolution did not change. Government meant possible tyranny. They were
still smarting over the acts of King George III. In fact, they disliked the
King so much that they sent Thomas Paine, the most vocal critic of the King
during the Revolution, over to Britain as the first Ambassador from the
United States. English history books, even today, credit Tom Paine with
driving King George III insane even before our present constitution went
Our founding fathers took that same pragmatism and realism into the debate
over a new national government. They understood that one man or woman
protecting their individual rights to life, liberty, and property, with
freedom of speech were more powerful than a King. The hard part was
balancing what the people needed from the national government against the
tendency of government to usurp the people's inherent natural rights. They
did increase the power of national government, but they did it by carefully
limiting the overall power of that government. The result was a
constitutionally limited government.
If you have ever read the Constitution, the majority of the words are about
what the government cannot do. That is because the founding fathers knew
that most of the problems of society could not be solved by government
without giving up individual rights. For example, the federal government
can require specific environmental regulations, but the trade-off is that
many of the regulations infringe upon private property rights. You may
think that is okay, but I bet you would think differently if it were your
property and you still had to pay the same taxes on it.
A good example is what happened to riparian landowners on Rainy Lake this
spring. I own half of this lovely little island called "Atsokan." Last
year, when Senator Wellstone sponsored legislation to raise the water level
of Rainy Lake, he was told he was going to cause flooding. He did it
anyway. So what is my recourse? Sue the Government? Or run against him? It
looks like I'll probably be doing both if he doesn't undo the legislation
There are currently three politically appointed citizen's committees at
work in Minnesota dividing up resources, changing water levels, and
mediating disputes. The Mille Lacs Treaty Case, Voyageurs National Park and
BWCA groups have all been meeting. I started to attend the Mille Lacs
Treaty Forum meetings a year ago. I wasn't invited to be a participant
when the group was appointed, but after closing down my fishing camp last
fall I simply told the DNR I was coming. And, to their credit, they
willingly let me participate. However, in the four meetings I have
attended, there is one, huge underlying issue that never gets discussed.
That issue prompted me to read the following statement at the Treaty Forum
meeting on September 26th at the Earl Brown farm.
"Representatives of the DNR and Attorney General's offices say they have
been busy settling about 200 issues concerning resource allocation, safety,
land, etc., with the Indian Tribes. To me, the largest issue was never
discussed in the four meetings I have attended. That issue is the
constitutional rights of the citizens of the State of Minnesota.
This is the last meeting of this group, dividing up the resources of
Minnesota by secret negotiations between the DNR and the Indian Tribes.
This code was not begun as a plan to benefit the people of Minnesota. It
was ordered by a Federal District Court Judge based upon a very
controversial ruling. That ruling is on appeal, but the judge ordered this
perversion of the political process to take place before allowing the
appeal to run.
And that is the point. The Federal District Court Judge has deliberately
suspended the political accountability of our state officials. This
judicial activism is aimed at producing a political result, dividing the
resources between the DNR and the Indian Tribes and cutting out all other
interests, like private property owners, sportsmen, small businesses, etc.
This final plan deliberately ignores the legal rights of all non-Indians.
It is not based upon due process of law, but on treaty rights. This judge
has made a political decision that treaty rights are more important than
constitutional rights. I feel the Judiciary loses its credibility when it
crosses into the political process.
I understand that the DNR must comply with the judge's order to create this
plan. But this federal judge does not have the power to bind Minnesota if
the ruling is reversed. It is very important that this agreement be voided
if the District Court decision is reversed on appeal. It is highly
unlikely that the appeals court will place treaty rights ahead of
constitutional rights, especially after some recent U. S. Supreme Court
rulings. Minnesota must protect itself, and the rights of all its citizens
equally, and specify that this plan is automatically terminated if the
judge's order is reversed on appeal."
All movements have to start somewhere and always are about something. The
federal government is too big and we are losing the very thing which made
us unique -- our individuality. Individual rights were meant to protect the
things we choose as individuals, not what the government chooses to
protect. Individuality was what made us different from Europe, and great.
The founding fathers were all great inventors. Strong individuals doing
their own thing. Creative, innovative, and not afraid to take individual
risks. They did not want government to interfere with their creative
genius. It was supposed to be our government subject to the majority vote
of individual citizens. I can put this in a more modern context --
diversity. We are all individual citizens choosing to associate into one
people. Or are we anymore?
As much as we celebrate the founding fathers, we now practice political
correctness, not individuality. The problem is not confined to one
political party or the other. Both parties suffer from political
correctness. We have become homogenized and pasteurized and bland. The
innovative spirit is gone from government. We have lost the most precious
gift the founding fathers gave us--our individuality. Remember that line
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your
country." I doubt the founding fathers would believe that the government
formed under their constitution could produce that line. The federal
government tells us what is in our best interest. It divides us into
special groups and gives us different entitlements based upon our race, age
disabilities or abilities. It has placed us all into a sort of "trust"
status. The government has become a trustee over all of our rights and
property. They say this is to "equalize" us. When in reality, the
government gets more power and the people get less.
The key to restoring Constitutional limitations on our federal government
is forcing the federal government to subject itself to the requirements of
the "equal protection clause" of the 14th Amendment. Recent federal court
rulings are having a positive impact. One must consider the fact that our
federal Indian policy is a policy of racism and discrimination. A policy
that enables the federal government to take control of huge tracts of land
and establish regulatory control over land, water, minerals, and other
resources like fish and game. It uses its unique relationship with tribal
governments to accomplish this aim, all at the expenses of states, local
economies, individual citizens, and Indians themselves. It denies "equal
protection" to both Indian and non-Indian citizens.
It will take a pragmatic approach to restore just a part of the founding
fathers concept of constitutionally limited government. And the way to do
it is by celebrating our individuality. Celebrate our individual
uniqueness, not our ethnic backgrounds. Celebrate our differences and the
system designed to work for all of us in 1787. We must all have equal
rights and equal protection so that each one of us, by our own initiative,
can make ourselves what we can. Government cannot create that human drive
which makes someone successful, but it can stifle it very easily with too
many laws and regulations. It is time to go back and reclaim our individual
It is time for citizens to start asking, "Under whose authority are federal
agencies and bureaucrats getting involved in managing Minnesota's
resources?" It is time to start asking, "Under whose authority are
politically appointed citizens committees dividing up and commercializing
the state's natural resources?" And it is time to start asking, " Who is
responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of affected citizens,
small business people, and property owners?"
Now, I hope you understand why I am running for the U.S. Senate.
Howard B. Hanson