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The Carletonian

Al Franken for President!

<t Al Franken would be a splendid president of the United States. I hope he runs in 2020. I wish he had run in 2016. For those of you who are not familiar with The Frankenator (yes I just came up with that nickname), he is the junior senator from Minnesota. He has served alongside Amy Klobuchar since 2009. Before joining Congress, Senator Franken was an iconic cast member of Saturday Night Live for parts of the 70s, 80s and 90s. After SNL, Franken hosted a variety of wildly popular syndicated radio shows, providing a liberal voice to a medium he observed was dominated by conservative political thought.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is credited with the saying “all politics is local.” So it makes sense to examine Senator Franken’s accomplishments at the state level to measure whether he would be a good leader on the national stage. For some context, Franken is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, or DFL for short. The DFL is a socially liberal political party that, according to its platform, “supports and works to enact the ideals and principles of the Democratic Party and strives to sustain the foundations in our Party’s grassroots history.” Progressive Punch, a database of congressional voting records found that of the 100 senators currently in office, Franken is the 9th most progressive candidate, one spot above Bernie Sanders. So one can expect any legislation put forward by Franken to have a progressive bend to it. However, don’t confuse Franken’s commitment to progressivism with un-electability on the national stage. A May 2017 study conducted by Public Policy Polling found that Franken would beat Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head election, with 46% of the vote, compared to 41% for Trump. And polling conducted by Morning Consult consistently places Franken amongst the most popular senators. So from a statistical standpoint, Franken is certainly electable.

However, being electable does not mean someone will be a good leader. Trump was evidently electable and well… that’s all that needs to be said. Fortunately, many of Franken’s legislative accomplishments speak for themselves. Franken fought for the farmers of Minnesota when he took a leadership role in writing the 2014 Farm Bill. His changes to the Farm Bill, which has been law since 1933, help Minnesotan farmers reduce their energy costs by broadening the use of renewable energy sources. The updated Farm Bill has already cut $17 billion from America’s budget deficit. And on the national stage, Franken, along with Republican senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, added the Medical Loss Ratio to the Affordable Care Act. The provision has already saved health care consumers nationwide more than $3 billion through rebates and similar benefits. The 2010 bill, which highlights Franken’s ability and willingness to dive into complex policy, also underscores his commitment to bipartisanship, all qualities necessary to be a good president. There are a litany of other legislative efforts led by Senator Franken, ranging from protecting women from sexual violence, to bring much-needed reforms to the Wall Street in 2008, to making the prescription drug supply chain safer for consumers following the deaths of 64 individuals whose medications were contaminated with fungal meningitis.

Now that we have established that Franken is a legislate force to be reckoned with, along with being a statistically viable candidate for president, I would like to explore why Franken is uniquely qualified to take on Trump. It is pretty clear that President Trump is a man devoid of a moral compass. Franken, on the other hand, is not. Franken’s evisceration of a Neil Gorsuch court decision during Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court illustrated Franken’s deep sense of integrity. Franken criticized Gorsuch for a decision in which Gorsuch found a trucker culpable for leaving his truck to save his own life.

Although I generally do not often believe that a candidate’s proficiency in the comedic arts should qualify them for office, Franken’s sharp tongue and finely-tuned sense of humor would allow him to effectively articulate Trump’s infinite shortcomings and defend himself against a bevy of Trump attacks. In fact, just the other day, Franken discussed how fighting the Trump agenda has been easier than expected. He argued that Democrats are “successful mainly because [Republicans] just didn’t think of anything that’s anything but terrible.” Completely irrelevant to this article, I would like to point out that the above discussion took place at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., which is my local bookstore. I highly recommend stopping by the shop if you are ever in the area!

To finish up, Franken’s effectiveness as a politician, his acute moral awareness and his personable nature would make him a great candidate in 2020 and an even better president.

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