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Column: In 2018, let’s resolve to restore civil dialogue and solve problems

No two southern Minnesotans agree on everything, but in our everyday lives, we don’t let difference of opinion prevent us from getting things done to help our communities prosper. I learned this growing up here and have carried that value with me ever since. I served as a platoon leader in Iraq where I led a team responsible for dismantling roadside bombs and capturing dangerous insurgents. I served as a middle school math teacher in a high-need community where success was defined as catching a student up to their grade level. I worked at the Pentagon where I made sure our service members were ready for any mission, whether it be helping communities at home rebuild after hurricanes or fighting terrorism abroad.

In all of these roles, rarely ever did I reach 100 percent consensus with those I led or worked with on how to best to move forward. However, despite any disagreement, we always worked to find common ground because inaction was simply not an option for my soldiers, my students, or our country. In fact, one of the only institutions that I have ever seen with the luxury of inaction due to disagreement is the U.S. Congress.

In 2018, the price of inaction is unacceptably high. Health care costs continue to rise, businesses in many of our communities struggle to find qualified workers, and the threat of global instability prolongs our perpetual state of war. So many of our elected officials have moved from simply disagreeing on how best to address these challenges to being outright disagreeable. Everyone I talk to on the campaign trail is looking for leaders in Congress who will work with Democrats and Republicans like Tim Walz has done. By finding bipartisan solutions we can reduce health care costs, strengthen our workforce, invest in critical infrastructure projects and give much-needed tax cuts to middle class families rather than to Wall Street.

I am running for Congress because I want to cut through the political turmoil to help southern Minnesota. As has been my approach throughout my career of service, I plan to listen to those impacted, learn from the experts and then advocate for the best solution. I think of the folks I have met here across the district whose monthly healthcare premiums are $2,400 and rising. They don’t care which party is scoring political points out in DC. What they and so many other people in our district want are solutions that help them, their family and their neighbors.

As we enter 2018, I am re-committing myself and our campaign to restoring civil dialogue and solving problems. One way we plan to do this is continuing our “Service Saturday” initiative from 2017 where we performed service projects in communities across the district. Whether it was painting a daycare for second- and third-shift workers in Austin, organizing a community library in Hanska or packing food for seniors at a food pantry in Rochester, our campaign has been able to bring out people of varying backgrounds and political ideologies together in a day of service.  

We must commit ourselves to restoring civil dialogue, solving problems and reminding each other what connects us. Southern Minnesota cannot afford continued inaction from Congress. It is critical that leaders find common ground and compromise to solve our greatest challenges in order to improve the lives of all Minnesota families.

Dan Feehan is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First Congressional District.

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