The economic lockdown took a heavy toll on Minnesotans. Livelihoods were lost and beloved businesses were closed permanently. Mental health declined, important healthcare treatments and surgeries were delayed, and hospitals rapidly became insolvent. The state’s unemployment rate soared, while Minnesota’s performance in avoiding coronavirus deaths was relatively poor.
To highlight the economic devastation many residents faced, the Center of the American Experiment launched the “Back 2 Work Minnesota” campaign. American Experiment wanted to put pressure on the Minnesota Governor and state legislators to relax the coronavirus-related shutdowns to the greatest extent possible.
Back 2 Work Minnesota included a website, op-eds, and blog posts encouraging Minnesota’s leaders to end the coronavirus shutdown. Senior Policy Fellow Katherine Kersten’s op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, titled “Minnesota Must Recover From Its Pandemic Of Fear,” drove an enormous amount of public debate and discussion on reopening the state. American Experiment also shared a video that highlighted business owners struggling through the pandemic.
American Experiment also worked closely with the Upper Midwest Law Center to recruit plaintiffs, including two churches and several small businesses, for a lawsuit challenging the shutdown order on constitutional grounds. After the lawsuit was filed, the governor reversed his closure of churches.
The campaign’s primary focus, however, was digital advertising and social media. Through billboards and digital ads, American Experiment encouraged Minnesotans to contact their representatives and tell them they wanted to get back to work. American Experiment knew that only constituent pressure could lead to a relaxation of the strict lockdown measures.
Through these efforts, American Experiment generated 51,957 emails from Minnesotans to policymakers. Multiple legislators contacted American Experiment to say they were inundated by anti-shutdown emails from their constituents—emails that came from Back2WorkMN.com.
Thanks to American Experiment’s efforts, the Minnesota Governor relaxed the shutdown order. Families were able to get back to work and regain financial peace of mind. Churches that were originally discriminated against were allowed to operate. Restaurants opened for business with reasonable customer limitations, and golf lovers could hit the links again. For their efforts to protect the livelihoods of millions of Minnesotans, the Center of the American Experiment was nominated for the SPN’s Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement. American Experiment was then selected as a finalist in the Best Issue Campaign category.