What’s missing is a plan

At least the Center didn’t make a t-shirt calling me “Howard the Coward” for leaving Minnesota.


In response to my “Goodbye, Minnesota” commentary in the Star Tribune, John Phelan from the Center of the American Experiment wrote in Alpha News that conservatives should not leave Minnesota for states like Florida (as I am), but instead stay and fight for Minnesota’s future.

His boss at the Center, John Hinderaker, immediately chimed in on his Power Line blog to say that he is devoted to saving the state of Minnesota by doing all he can to encourage people “not to flee, but to stay and fight.” In that blog post, Hinderaker unveiled a new t-shirt with a “stay and fight” logo which you can get by making a $40 contribution to the Center.

At least the Center didn’t make a t-shirt calling me “Howard the Coward” for leaving Minnesota. But their implication is clear—if only we conservatives would stay in Minnesota and contribute more money to their advocacy, we can win! After hearing this plea so many times over so many years, I feel the need to respond to their “fight” to “save” Minnesota. 

Phelan claims we can save Minnesota based on three factors. First, as a good economist, he dices the 2022 election numbers to note that even though the DFL won complete control of the Minnesota legislature by only a handful of votes, they are governing like they won in a landslide.

That’s not a bug, that’s a DFL feature. By immediately using their new control to give us voting for felons, driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, the destruction of third-party campaigns and automatic registration of young voters, the DFL is making it even harder for Republicans to win a statewide election. And that’s even before considering how large the DFL campaign coffers will become from the return contributions of the recipients of last session’s 38% growth in government spending.

Next, Phelan claims that Minnesota is being lauded in the national press for our movement to progressive policies, which will backfire on the DFL once “the sad truth about Minnesota gets out.” Instead of backfiring, though, the more accurate word is insulating, which is what the fawning national press has done to protect liberal local politicians from the sad truths of their actions.

Finally, “and most importantly,” Phelan argues that Minnesota is worth fighting for because it still is a great place to live with great scenery, decent people and “varied” weather. But everyone would agree that San Francisco has even better scenery, so let’s all move there! And staying for Minnesota’s weather? To channel the legendary football coach Jim Mora’s rant when asked about the playoffs, “Weather? Don’t talk about the weather. You kidding me?”

All of Phelan’s talk about fighting makes me think of the decent Minnesota woman I heard last week on a podcast who described how she was violently mugged while walking to the Guthrie on a scenic Saturday afternoon. Should she now wear a new “Stay and Fight” t-shirt and fight back against her next random attacker on her next stroll through Dinkytown? 

While I’m sure the Center’s fight chant is intended only in its verbal sense, those who choose to remain in our urban core will need to decide whether to extend that fight to the physical once they become the next victim of the Twin Cities’ escalating violent crime. Is this really still a great place for decent people to live?

What’s sorely missing from Phelan’s response is a plan, as in what, other than paying the salaries of Phelan and Hinderaker and 18 other staff members, is the Center accomplishing in its alleged fight to save Minnesota? Winning back control of Minnesota won’t happen because of a t-shirt or pleas for more money to parrot the same rhetoric with no demonstrated return on investment. 

Instead, change will happen only if we have better Republican candidates running better campaign messages with more well-spent money to overcome the substantial and growing DFL advantages. That, along with alternative news organizations like Alpha News and @CrimeWatchMpls engaging in direct reporting of the destruction of Minnesota is where my last remaining hopes lie. Admittedly, that’s not a cheery scenario (and I hope I am proven wrong), but a sugarcoating isn’t good on anything other than doughnuts.

Deciding to move out of Minnesota is a deliberate conclusion made after figuring out what works best for you, your family, your employment and your future. It’s also an action that will hasten the DFL’s need to deal with their out-of-control spending by removing your future taxes from Minnesota’s treasury. Many of the conservatives I know want to leave right now but can’t because of their personal situation, and I don’t begrudge anyone for staying in Minnesota for any reason or for no reason at all. 

At the same time, those of us who choose to leave, not only retirees like me but also young families leaving to find a better life in states like Tennessee and South Carolina, don’t deserve to be branded as cowards fleeing Minnesota simply because we choose not to remain and join the Center’s “fight” to “save” Minnesota.


Howard Root