Anecdotes over data: How Minnesota’s left creates its own reality
Those on the political left in Minnesota always struggle to answer this question: Why, if life in our high-tax and high-spending state is so good, are record numbers of people…
Fran Bradley, a long-time conservative activist in the Rochester area, recently helped organize an event for Center of the American Experiment’s Greater Minnesota Advisory Board. Bradley is an engineer by training, with 30 years of experience at IBM’s Rochester facilities. He also served in the Minnesota Legislature from 1995 to 2006.
You became an early adopter in American Experiment’s outreach efforts through its “Pioneers” program and The Greater Minnesota Advisory Board. What attracted you to these efforts?
Those of us in Rochester who are big fans of the Center have been very enthusiastic about its outreach activities from day one. I think it was over a year ago that we had dinner here in Rochester and floated the idea of becoming a more involved and proactive force. We’d like to be an extension of the Center, and we have even floated the idea of starting a chapter in Rochester where we actually have some autonomy.
Are you thinking about an independent organization?
No, not independent, but trying to bring the Center’s messages to Rochester maybe two to four times a year on topics that are particularly relevant to our part of the state. Beyond that, we’d like to use our strong local voices to take those messages to the public and local media. We would also like to engage the Center in important Rochester-area issues.
There seems to be a thirst in Greater Minnesota for ways to express conservative values that go beyond mere politics. Do you agree?
Absolutely. And sometimes those things can be hard to separate. When the Center takes a fresh, objective, and factual look on an issue like jobs in the Iron Range, it gets discussed in political circles, but the Center stresses it’s important for the entire state. I serve on the government affairs committee of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and we discussed why Rochester might express its support for jobs on the Iron Range. Because I served in the Legislature, I’m aware how important it is to think of the state as a whole. I do a lot of mentoring with candidates, and I have tried to impress on them the importance of educating the public on many of these issues.
How have politics and public policy changed from the time you served at the Legislature?
To be objective about it, perhaps because the national ugliness spills down to Minnesota, the atmosphere may have become uglier. But partisanship has always been there. I served as both a minority and the majority, and partisanship power is part of the way things work in a republic form of government. But I think it’s become a bit shriller. I grew up as a Democrat, I’ve known Democrats, and I have a lot of respect for mainstream Democrats. I may not agree with them on a lot of things, but we can have civil debates. However, the Democratic party seems to have been taken over by far left extremists who are out of step with common sense Americans. They are the loud voices we hear so often.
Having said that, what’s your take on Governor Walz’s “One Minnesota” theme?
Who could be opposed to that? I think most of us in Minnesota are proud to be Minnesotans. So concept wise, I think it’s great. Implementation wise, I think Tim Walz is far off the mark by wanting more government, more taxes, and more regulation.