20th Century, DFL, Governors, Uncategorized

Inventing the Future: Orville L. Freeman

Minnesota Governor Orville L. Freeman, and the slate of the DFL party ca. 1954 elections. http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/category/acquisitions/

January 5, 1955-January 2, 1961
On November 2, 1954, Orville L. Freeman secured the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote. He was reelected to a second term in 1956, and to a third term in 1958. During his tenure, a water resource board was formed; the seaway port authority was created; the state’s health institutions were advanced; a fair employment practice law was sanctioned; and educational funding was expanded. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Freeman left office on January 2, 1961.*

“We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it.” This quote does not originate with Freeman, but is credited to Nobel Prize winning physicist Dennis Gabor.** Yet, it seemed to be a recurring mantra and theme of the life of Governor Freeman. Let’s explore this notion further, and excavate the actions and motives of Mr. Freeman before his time in office.

To initiate, Freeman graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1940 and bonded for life with Hubert H. Humphrey. After serving as a Marine in the South Seas, he returned home to build a bridge between the liberal Minnesota Democratic Party and the more socialistic Farmer-Labor Party.

In this action, he and Humphrey were pivotal voices in forging a consensus based around the creed; “A Pledge for American Unity”. I offer a quote of some of its planks below.
“I will never try to indict a whole people by reason of the delinquency of any member.”
“In my daily conduct I will consecrate myself, hour by hour, to the achievements the highest ideal of the dignity of mankind, human equality, human fellowship and human brotherhood.”

Orville served as a charter member and chairman of the DFL party in Minnesota from 1948-1950.*** Operating under the ubiquitous and consummate Democratic Mayor of Minneapolis, Hubert H. Humphrey, the heart of the DFL platform became reality. It’s planks today remain largely unchanged: a strong commitment to civil rights, humanizing labor, social welfare, the primacy of public education, and access to healthcare.

Governor Freeman fought to make this mantra a reality during his three terms in office.
His efforts remained tightly focussed: environment and water quality, pumping up education and healthcare, fighting for labor laws, and laying the groundwork for the Food Stamps Act of 1964. ,*** Although considered a “moderate” in his era, Freeman’s accomplishments gave witness to his allegiance to “inventing the future” of Minnesota and the DFL.

Pivoting to prayer, Lord, we honor You and remember that You: heal our past, free our present, and bless our future. We thank You that Your placement as Governor of Governors is secure and constant. You have spoken over all humanity,
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” * John 15:16 NIV

We sit with You now, and remember the heart and the mind of Governor Freeman. We gratefully perpend the perpendicular motive conflicts he avoided; what he thought, he said, and what he said he did. How refreshing, again, to find a new hero of consistency in leadership; a man unified intellectually and in his nature! Will You lead us to acknowledge what we can to You in deep roots of conflict and success in his life?

Before his terms as governor, we see a man wrestling with human nature. Like the First Family, the sons of Adam and Eve, Orville knew that even brothers can hate, disavow, and even kill each other. Will You bless his heritage of making peace; standing between Progressives and Democrats? Will You forgive us of this era of hot judgment? Progressive Minnesotans judged Liberal Minnesotans, Liberals counter-judged Progressives, and both factions judged Republicans. All of these groups are human being that You went to the Cross for, were buried for, and rose for on the third day. Will You remove this living and active root of bitterness from our local culture: past present, and future?

Moving on, we commend Governor Freeman’s ideation and creativity in the realm of policy. Changing the direction of any large organization is like trying to turn a supertanker without a rudder. Maybe a good captain can alter the course a few degrees, but momentum is powerful force to counter. Forgive my weak analogies, Lord, but we want to acknowledge the importance of Orville’s critical input in forming the key planks of the DFL. What he dreamed of in the 1940’s became his actions in the 1950’s, and have remained constants in the DFL party since!

May We quickly visit these ideas, Wise One?
Environmental Protection
Freeman realized that our incredible wealth of fresh water in Minnesota was a resource worthy of protections. Will You bless this concept? The counter-arguments then, as now, hinge on who gets to make the choice of the use of natural resources; the owner of the property, or the government? In answering this question, our people have been divided. Will You forgive us this sin of foolish division without clarity of terms? Will You forgive all Minnesotans’ judgments, irrespective of their position, of failing to acknowledge that all property is G-d’s Property? We have so little humility over natural resources that we only ever will be temporary stewards. Forgive us!

Labor Laws
Your word says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” * I Timothy 5:18 NIV

Freeman saw both the importance and limitations of labor. To elaborate, the human body has limitations of how many hours it can function before it breaks down, and those who do physical work know the direct costs to their bodies. We applaud Governor Freeman his attempts to create boundaries around our workers through laws that protected them in this epoch. We acknowledge the division and dissent some of these laws created, and their root judgments. To those who opposed Freeman, again, the issue is not a matter of the worthiness of the worker, but who gets to make the choice: the government, the employer, or the individual laboring? Will You forgive our failures then and now to adequately respect these heartfelt disagreements, and to find policies that protect while not inserting a third party into an employer-employee relationship? Will You forgive our society where we have disrupted binary relationships with tertiary ones?

Healthcare
Your Living Word says, “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9 NIV

Orville recognized the value of human life, and the dawning of the temptation of insurance companies and hospitals to commoditize it. How does society protect its poorest and underinsured from health horrors known in previous generations. In this case, he sought to “invent the future” through legal means.
Repetitively, this created opposition in our state over the economics of health. Critics may argue that the when the government through welfare laws creates a price floor, disequilibrium will always occur. It excludes those who would buy or sell at a lower than market price, and this creates a surplus.
While these forces could temporally bring down costs for consumers of healthcare, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it would raise the cost for healthcare providers, and their employees? Lord, in this we have failed to hear each other. We want to solve one problem, but then it sets off a chain of domino events that we didn’t anticipate. Will You show us a more equitable way to solve the problems of healthcare than price? Will You forgive us our judgments past, present and future of how and why our political government is in the business of healthcare?

In sum, we remember Governor Freeman’s optimism for human accomplishment. We both acknowledge this notion, and look at it critically and soberly. As long as we do not fail to continue right relationship with each other, I’m sure he would be proud. You have made a way to consensus. Lord, give Minnesota the hesed to “invent the future with each other and with You. Amen!

*Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols. Cited by https://www.nga.org/governor/orville-lothrop-freeman/

**https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/09/27/invent-the-future/

***Read on the origins of the DFL party and Freeman’s contributions. https://www.dfl.org/about/dfl-history/

**** Delaney, Arthur. Internet. HuffPost. (01/08/2014) “Jane Freeman, Widow Of Food Stamp Founder, Discusses The ‘Need And The Embarrassment’
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/war-on-poverty-food-stamps_n_4561730

* https://www.biblehub.com/john/15-16.htm

Price, Paul. Letter to editor. “Letter of the day: Humphrey’s unity lesson as a remedy for today’s divisiveness” StarTribune. Minneapolis,MN. 08/16/2010. Internet. https://www.startribune.com/letter-of-the-day-humphrey-s-unity-lesson-as-a-remedy-for-today-s-divisiveness/100806114/

https://biblehub.com/1_timothy/5-18.htm
* https://www.biblehub.com/luke/16-9.htm

*Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols. Cited by https://www.nga.org/governor/orville-lothrop-freeman/

**https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/09/27/invent-the-future/

***Read on the origins of the DFL party and Freeman’s contributions. https://www.dfl.org/about/dfl-history/

**** Delaney, Arthur. Internet. HuffPost. (01/08/2014) “Jane Freeman, Widow Of Food Stamp Founder, Discusses The ‘Need And The Embarrassment’
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/war-on-poverty-food-stamps_n_4561730

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