Three days into his first legislative session, District 10 state Sen. Nathan Wesenberg, R-Little Falls, made the news by declaring that “maybe we should start with (Gov.) Tim Walz“ when arresting politicians for imposing COVID mandates. Wesenberg also called the COVID vaccine “a death shot.”
Maybe Wesenberg was serious or maybe he was just trying to provoke the crowd. He was one of several speakers at a health-freedom rally attended by folks who believe the government’s COVID response was grossly mishandled.
Let’s assume for a moment that Wesenberg was serious. If he cannot find a county attorney willing to act on his complaint that Walz is guilty of felonious behavior, under Minnesota law, anyone, including the senator, can make a citizen’s arrest. Should the senator be successful in arresting the governor, state law reads, he must then take Walz before a judge or a peace officer “without unnecessary delay.” If he has the goods on the guv, nothing is stopping the senator.
One can well imagine what would happen if Wesenberg actually attempted to arrest the governor. The most likely outcome would be his own arrest for breach of the peace or attempted kidnapping. Should the governor go along willingly, by law Wesenberg would take him before a law officer or a judge, the latter most likely appointed by Walz, and that would be the end of it.
Arguably (since he was just re-elected to a second term by 192,408 votes over his closest challenger), Walz has been one of the worst governors in Minnesota history. In times of crisis or scandal, he has either disappeared or blamed others. Those are not attributes of a strong leader. However, having those qualities is not breaking the law. Wesenberg did not specify what laws the governor may have violated.
Minnesotans will recall that during the last legislative session, Senate Republicans, then in the majority, repeatedly tried to end Walz’ emergency fiats after the initial COVID scare had passed, but were stifled by the House DFL majority.
Wesenberg could also organize an impeachment of Walz. In U.S. history, but never in Minnesota, 15 governors have been impeached, with eight then being convicted and removed from office, five acquitted, one resigning before his trial and the other finishing his term before a trial could be held. Only one governor, Oklahoma’s Henry Johnston in 1929, was convicted for general incompetency.
Impeachments are inherently political processes. Since Republicans are in the minority in both the House and Senate, such an effort would almost certainly fail without even a hearing. It would take far more than exaggerated rhetoric to bring Walz down.
As to the “death shot” comment, there is no question that some people have bad reactions to any vaccine. The question is, how many? Wesenberg’s comment suggests that the COVID vaccination would kill most people. The evidence of that is just not there.
About 77% of Minnesotans have received at least one COVID vaccination dose out of 11.7 million administered. Since the vaccine was first introduced, at most, 8,000 Minnesotans have died from COVID. Most were from the disease, not the vaccine.
In addition, if one considers that the 50 states are laboratories of democracy, one can compare the number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents in each state to the percentage of residents who have received at least one COVID vaccination. While case frequency is affected by several factors, including population density, a chart would show that 15 states are in the best half of states for both fewest cases and highest vaccination rates. Another 15 are in the worst half in both cases and vaccination rates. The remaining 20 are outliers. Those results suggest that the vaccine is having some beneficial effect overall – not as much as proponents had promised, but nothing approaching a “death shot.”
Wesenberg is entitled to believe that the fast-tracked COVID vaccines have risks. They were obviously unnecessary for most school children. However, anyone with any perspective would see that the real issue is not the vaccine alone, but forcing its use. If people are smart enough to vote, they should be considered smart enough to make their own health decisions. (Wesenberg should make that point every time a DFLer says the same thing during the ongoing abortion debate.) However, the fact remains that more people have been helped than hurt by the vaccine.
It is an easy thing to throw red meat to those with whom one agrees. It is much more difficult to persuade those with whom one differs. In the Minnesota Senate, the DFL has only a one vote advantage. While Wesenberg perhaps thinks he was sent there only to disrupt the process, he would be far more effective as a legislator if he got to know the people across the aisle and how they think. Then he may be able to figure out how to persuade one of them to compromise on a given issue.
Serious legislators don’t give up their principles, but they do look for ways to affect the process, which is especially difficult when in the minority. Calling for Walz’ arrest and suggesting that the COVID vaccine is an agent of mass suicide suggests that Wesenberg is unserious about the job he was elected to do. He’s new; maybe he will learn.
Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of The Morrison County Record and is now a columnist for APGECM. Reach him at email@example.com.
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.