On Saturday, April 14, I had the pleasure of getting to hear Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota speak at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Unity Dinner. Since the 2016 election, I have become much more politically aware, and Senator Klobuchar is now one of my favorite politicians. Her extensive policy expertise, along with her focus on beneficial policy for all constituents rather than political pandering to her base, make her an effective and influential Senator.
Senator Klobuchar was born to an elementary school teacher mother and a father in the newspaper business. Raised in the middle class, Senator Klobuchar brought a vastly different - and needed - perspective to the United States Senate. Since her election, she has been a staunch advocate for progressive causes - raising the minimum wage, expanding healthcare, and fighting for civil rights for disadvantaged groups. At the same time, the strength and sincerity of her progressive political positions does not stop her from getting incremental work done for her home state and the entire country.
While she maintains her strong, progressive beliefs, Senator Klobuchar works every day with Republican Senators to find common ground and has sponsored a record amount of legislation. Out of all 100 Senators, she ranked first in terms of legislation passed into law that she sponsored or co-sponsored during the last Congress. One of the most noteworthy pieces of legislation she has co-sponsored is funding to update election infrastructure in order to protect from attempted hacking. She co-sponsored this funding in the recent omnibus spending bill - $380 million - along with Sen. James Lankford, R-OK. Another piece of legislation Klobuchar has introduced is the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, along with Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, in order to allow Americans to purchase cheaper prescription drugs. Klobuchar believes in finding common ground where it exists with Republicans on issues of substance.
That doesn’t mean she won’t introduce legislation that will get no Republican co-sponsorship. The Register America to Vote Act, which would require states to develop processes to automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18, is one of the most consequential bills Klobuchar has introduced. The United States, for a developed country with democratic elections, has a shockingly low rate of election participation among the population. If this legislation were passed, it would significantly increase voter turnout.
Senator Klobuchar is a model for reintroducing two things that have been increasingly lacking in American politics: civility and substance. Her policy proposals are rich and thorough, and are not crafted to be political appeals to the far left, like too much of the Democratic Caucus (see Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and others). They are substantive. They make changes that may not be considered “revolutionary,” but still improve the lives of Minnesotans and Americans. When asked by comedian Trevor Noah how she gets so much done, one of the things Senator Klobuchar emphasized was the importance of civility to all her colleagues. By avoiding political gamesmanship and name-calling but also sticking to her progressive guns, Senator Klobuchar has established a reputation as a determined fighter who gets things done.
Will she run in 2020? We can only hope so. We need more politicians like her.