Let’s talk values. Good-old Minnesota values. Conservative ones. I should say at the outset, that, on a number of issues, I’m very progressive, but the idea that the political spectrum is a single line with “liberal” on one end and “conservative” on the other is nonsense. You can be a perfectly decent and reasonable human being while owning guns and, say, supporting single-payer health care. I enjoy visiting (and sometimes debating) with people around town when I fill my gas tank, buy chicken feed, and have work done on my house. I like asking them about their insurance plans. About hunting. About family. I appreciate those mostly-conservative folk enormously. You know who you are. Anyway, here is my message:

The GOP has fallen into darkness. It has sold its soul and abandoned its values. Thousands of lifelong Republicans like Max Boot, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson have bravely left a Party which once cared about American Democracy (Reagan), the environment (Nixon), the military industrial complex (Eisenhower), crony capitalism and monopolies (T. Roosevelt) and freedom (Lincoln). Those were good Republican values. Good MINNESOTA values. Where did they go? That’s a long discussion. But what is crystal-clear is that the modern version of that Grand Old Party has fully-embraced a man who, by every measure, is sexist, bigoted, racist, disloyal, depraved, corrupt, untruthful, incompetent and, yes, treasonous. This week’s scandal? He is covering up for his friend, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), who just had a Washington Post journalist’s fingers removed, then decapitated, then cut into pieces. Why is this President helping the Saudis obfuscate, lie, and cover up this horrific crime? Because we do business with them. In a rare spasm of honesty, he admitted this, aloud, last week. 

Here in Bemidji, a city I love with every fiber of my being, a “Make Minnesota Great Again!” sign looms ominously in front of the GOP office. The phrase “Bemidji First” is on campaign signs and fliers of three candidates for Mayor and City Council. These slogans are purposeful and they are meaningful. They are dog whistles, promoting the values of the man at the top. Values of self over Country. Values of fear, hatred, and greed. These are not Minnesota values, and many lifelong Republicans, I suspect, feel sick about it. To those people, I would like to say that I am sorry. I am sorry that a party you have grown up in, have cared about, have fought for, has fallen so far. Your traditional values are decent and they are good and I, as a mostly-progressive guy, deeply appreciate them. My own Presidential hero is Teddy Roosevelt. He stood up to the robber barons, going toe-to-toe with the most powerful and corrupt people in the country. He was a warrior. A Republican through-and-through. 

But the modern GOP has turned into a monster. It has murdered and dismembered those values. It has hired and conspired with (convicted) criminals. It has filled the swamp until overflowing. It has raided the treasury and blown up the budget. It has attacked the weak, the elderly, our veterans, and our democratic institutions. It pledges allegiance to the flag of the United States of America then, incredibly, appallingly, unforgivably, given aid and comfort to the enemy. The only choice left for those of us who care about traditional conservative values is to completely vote these people out of office. This means not just staying home or voting third party, but supporting Democrats this fall. Light a match to the house that would trade your Freedoms and Democracy for power and money. Let a new, traditionally-conservative party built on honesty, integrity, and decency rise from the ashes. Vote Blue this fall and sow the seeds for the resurrection of those old values. Us Democrats will welcome and embrace its arrival. I look forward to visiting with you about it.

See you at the gas pump.

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