Mondale says DFL future lies in youth

Tom Lopez

Stressing the need for “a new way of thinking about politics,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Mondale addressed members of the U-DFL on Thursday night on the importance of student concerns.
“The needs of the younger generation are not being met by the old system of government,” said Mondale, a former state senator.
Mondale’s speech in Coffman Memorial Union was the second of four U-DFL-sponsored question-and-answer sessions, which will include the four democrats currently running for the office. Last Thursday, Attorney General Hubert “Skip” Humphrey spoke to the organization.
Mondale, Humphrey and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman are the three “sons of” candidates who have taken the state’s fund-raising circuit by storm in their bid to replace Gov. Arne Carlson. By the end of last year, Mondale had already raised almost $93,000 in campaign funds. No Republican candidate generated more than $10,000.
Mondale said he models his campaign after that of his father, Walter, who he said lost the 1984 presidential campaign because he was honest with the voters. “These are the values that drive me,” Ted Mondale said, “and I think we need more of them in politics today.”
Mondale described his experiences with the Democratic Leadership Council, a major think-tank of the party. While serving on the council, he was frequently involved in discussions concerning youth issues.
“What we found is, contrary to what many older politicians think, your generation has core values and beliefs that don’t happen to fit in with the current political debate that’s going on today,” Mondale told about 20 students who were present.
He also discussed the Democratic gubernatorial endorsement, which he said he will aggressively pursue. The party’s future, he said, lies with the younger generation.
“If the Democratic Party wants to be remain viable in the next century, then we need to be understanding of your needs,” he said.
As evidence, he pointed to the voter turnout in 1996, when voters ages 18 to 29 were Clinton’s biggest voting block. Clinton won 62 percent of the vote in that age group, as opposed to the 25 percent who voted for Republican challenger Bob Dole.
Mondale said that support was proof that the younger generation is ready to participate in the political process if they believe that the candidates are attentive to their interests.
The key to such an understanding, he said, is bringing a new perspective to the political process. Such innovation, he said, is especially important in higher education.
“I think we need to rethink what education is all about,” he said.
Mondale said he supports a system like the one in place in Georgia, where students who receive a B average in high school receive full scholarships to state schools.
He said he was aware that such changes might be slow in coming. “Real change is difficult,” he said. “But I’m running because I think it’s necessary.”
Political innovation was one of the issues that Mondale stressed throughout the night. “I’m running for governor because I don’t think the status quo is good enough to take us where we need to go in the future,” he said. “And I believe I have the wisdom, the energy, the leadership skills and the independence to lead our state into the century.”
Kevin Pomasl, co-chairman of the U-DFL, said the purpose of the speeches is to mobilize students. “We see this as a real opportunity,” he said. ” … This is going to be a governor that’s going to take us into the next century.”