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Editorial: Minnesota's Sunday liquor-sale vote inspires

By voting to allow liquor sales on Sunday, the Minnesota Legislature is reminding Americans of why our country remains a superpower and a destination for immigrants from around the world.

Wait a minute. Sunday liquor sales means all that? Really?

You bet. But read the first sentence again. It's not the Sunday sales themselves that have this power. It's the vote: the fact that the Minnesota Legislature took up a contentious issue—one that had been quarreled about in many previous sessions—and passed it this time around.

That shows a flexibility and a responsiveness to public opinion that never ceases to amaze. It's proof again of America's ability to correct its mistakes—a priceless skill, not only for individuals and corporations but also for societies and governments.

What a strong sign of a society that works. And what a great reminder of how lucky we are to be Americans.

Thanks to the Minnesota House and Senate, both of which have now passed Sunday liquor-sales bills, Minnesotans soon should be able to buy liquor on Sundays for the first time since statehood. As mentioned, the issue had come up in several previous sessions. But lawmakers had always rejected it; then this year, that changed. Why?

American politics is why. Over time, advocates chipped away at the anti-Sunday-sales arguments. After other states started allowing the sales, car accidents didn't rise, and family activities didn't fall, the advocates noted.

As important, Minnesotans (like other Americans) grew more comfortable with changing traditional norms, such as the one that reserved Sunday as a "day of rest." A day off work, maybe. But a forced day off shopping, an entirely voluntary activity?

No thanks, voters concluded. So they took aim at "blue laws" and started ending them years ago.

After that, the days of Minnesota's Sunday liquor-sale laws probably were numbered. But even so, it took decades until the policy's number was up.

Again, the process matters because it shows our greatest strength: the fact that we make policy by harnessing the collective wisdom of the American people. In Minnesota, the key change was the one that happened to public opinion, because once the polls showed solid majorities supporting Sunday liquor sales, lawmakers were sure to follow.

We take this process for granted. We shouldn't. Russia doesn't work this way, nor does China, nor North Korea nor Iran. In those countries, power is vested in an individual or an unelected politburo, which means public opinion is a threat.

Here, it's a source of wisdom. And that's the key to America's strength.

Yes, you can change City Hall. You can also change the Minnesota Capitol and Congress—but let's stick with the Minnesota Capitol for now. On Monday, Minnesota showed its flexibility by accommodating public opinion and changing with the times. That, in a nutshell, is the American way, and it's always inspiring to watch it play out.

-- Tom Dennis for the Herald

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