I’ve lived on the Iron Range for nearly five decades and most of my friends, neighbors and former classmates work in the mines that are the lifeblood of the area.
We are a close-knit bunch up north, where most people know most other people, and so we talk amongst ourselves quite often and I can tell you we share many common hopes, dreams, goals and ideas.
Especially when it comes to current events and the state of the union during this very crucial moment in our history.
I also hear from a wide variety of Mesabi Tribune readers on a weekly basis, via emails and face-to-face interactions — most of whom are strangers to me — who share the same sentiments as my inner circle.
What I can tell you about all those conversations is this: While Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich’s appearance Tuesday night during the Republican National Convention, and what he said to the nation, might have come as a shock to the system of old school Iron Range Democrats who bleed blue and have yet to open their eyes, or more importantly, their ears, the rest of us have been saying the same thing for years: The national Democratic party left us behind long ago.
When he spoke, I felt like he had read the collective minds of the local miners that I’ve spoken with that spend their lives digging and moving the iron ore that flows through the veins of northern Minnesota, earning a living and feeding their families in the process.
They are the parents of the children who fill the hallways of our schools and the men and women who shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants. They are the heart of the Iron Range and without them and the mines that employ them this area would inevitably become a sad, empty reminder of what was once a proud community, not unlike the remnants of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Vlaisavljevich’s speech revealed to a nation the thoughts and feelings of many in our area that local union leaders have failed to recognize over the past several years as they’ve thrown their endorsements behind whomever the Democratic party has marched into the battle for the presidency.
That includes this year’s poor excuse for a candidate Joe Biden, a puppet of a man who, along with his family, has done for years exactly what he has accused President Donald Trump of doing – milking the system for personal gain.
A man whose best days, if he ever had any, are far behind him.
A career politician whose crowning achievement was tag-a-long to Barack Obama despite more than four decades living rent free off the backs of American taxpayers in Washington D.C.
A candidate the Democratic party - fearing the insurmountable task of knocking Donald Trump out of office as our economy was at record numbers, and unemployment was at record lows - threw to the wolves last year, along with several other third-rate candidates, as a token offering with an eye on 2024.
An individual who has said, yes, I support the “Green New Deal,” a package of legislation that if ever actually enacted, would put an end to mining in northern Minnesota.
I have to believe my grandmother’s Democratic party would have never supported this sham of a nominee or the ideas trumpeted by radical first year House members who hate America and millionaire do-nothing socialist Senators who couldn’t care less about the workers and middle-class families across middle America.
And that’s basically what Vlaisavljevich told America.
He didn’t speak as a Republican or a Washington politician or even a Trump truther. He spoke from the heart, as an American and an Iron Ranger.
Vlaisavljevich talked about being a lifelong Democrat and explaining to the nation that for years policies concocted in the Washington D.C. swamp cost Eveleth thousands of jobs and a generation of young people, thanks in part to steel dumping from China, adding that he had lost hope until the election in 2016.
And then: "A straight-talking New Yorker burst onto the scene, promising to stand up to China and the rest of the world on behalf of the American worker. Four years later, the Iron Range is roaring back to life, and we have one man to thank: President Donald Trump," he said in his speech.
"He made good on his promises by cutting our taxes, rolling back senseless regulations and delivering trade deals that put America's interests first," Vlaisavljevich said, adding that the 2020 election will be crucial for the Iron Range.
“My father and grandfather earned their livings mining the raw materials that made the steel that built America,” he said. “This election is a make or break for workers who are carrying out the legacy of men like them.”