Jesse Ventura: Whose Corner Is He In?

January 1999

Minnesota shocked the world when pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura stole the governor’s race from behind. Sure, my governor can beat up your governor, but what does the election of Jesse Ventura mean for poor and working people in Minnesota? The election says Minnesotans are tired of voting year after year for plastic-haired hacks. Tired of hearing promises made so they can be broken after Election Day. We’re sick of candidates who say they’re on the side of poor and working people, but then, when they get elected, they can’t move fast enough to bash the poor, deny us a living wage and eliminate our social safety net. The question is, was a vote for Jesse really a vote against the usual story of politics by the rich for the rich? His campaign featured Jesse The Action Figure, battling the big money of evil Special Interest Man. The fact is, our governor has long since traded in his pink feather boas for a gray tweed suit. This governor thinks like all the rest, but he talks in plainer terms: “We live in a capitalist world,” says Jesse. “And I am a capitalist.” He is opposed to the minimum wage. Period. In Ventura’s capitalist world, even $5.75 an hour is too much for government to mandate. As governor, Jesse will help Minnesota’s rich get even richer, and he’ll keep the rest of us working for nothing, “The free market dictates wages and the government should not be involved. When companies are forced to pay the livable wage the cost is paid through higher prices.” Jesse wants us to see him as a man of the people, so why can’t he see that we have the right to jobs that pay a living wage? Because Jesse Ventura isn’t like most people: He’s a wealthy guy, he owns a thirty-two acre horse ranch in the suburbs, and he’s getting $500,000 to write a book about himself. Jesse Ventura, working man’s wanna-be-hero, will sell us out, to sell his books, time and time again. Minnesota has a progressive Third Party history which dominated state politics in the 1930s, and advanced demands of workers and farmers. Unfortunately Jesse Ventura, Ross Perot, and the Reform Party, have nothing in common with this tradition. One indication of this is Ventura’s appeal to white chauvinism – he has consistently tried to play up to well-off suburbanites by opposing “forced busing.” The new governor is anti-family and anti-education, at least for most Minnesotans. He says, “People who can’t afford to raise kids should have thought about that before they had them,” and “If you’re smart enough to go to college you should be smart enough to figure out how to pay for it.” What it comes down to is not one dime of our money to help us out. Jesse Ventura is just another hustler, a capitalist, looking to take from us and give corporate welfare to the rich.