The Patriot listeners and party faithful bond over GOP debate

The Republican presidential race came to The Mermaid in Mounds View Wednesday night, as about a hundred GOP faithful gathered to eat, drink, watch three hours of debate on TV, and bond over their shared anger at President Obama and distaste for Democrats in general.

The viewing party was sponsored by the local The Patriot radio station and its parent company the Salem Media Group, “the exclusive radio partner of the CNN (GOP) debates this year” (per the event’s press release) and the Christian media conglomerate whose holdings also include Twin Cities-based radio stations The Mission and The Fish.

While a couple hundred politics-oblivious Minnesotans took to the boisterous bar and bowling alley a few feet away, MinnPost went to the debate viewing party, an oddly quiet affair that felt more like an underground meeting of a secret society than a radio-sponsored political rally in an election year. In words and photos:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Lee Becker, Stillwater: “I’m hoping that all across America that people in general that are planning on voting understand that there’s a lot at stake right now as far as how to handle this country. I’d love to see a strong Christian conservative politician get in office if at all possible because I do feel that they best can serve the country the right way. I don’t think the Republican candidates need to beat each other up. They’re the most elite group of candidates running as is, and I think that 90 percent of a lot of the stupid people, and that’s a lot of the left, are going to use that against them to try and get Donald Trump unelected just from stupid things he might comment on. I would vote for Donald Trump, but any one of the Republican candidates can do 10 times better than any leftist individual or Democrat, especially Obama, who has to be the worst president we’ll ever have in this country.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Katie and Shelah Driver, Richfield. “I came with Mom, because we listen to talk radio a lot together,” said Shelah. “I feel like I’m learning a lot from Mom. I feel like I grew up with it in the background all the time, and I’m an educator now and I feel like a lot of the educators out there are super Democratic and don’t have the same values or belief systems that I do or grew up on. I’m going to keep listening to it, because it’s encouraging who I want to be, and I hope I’m influencing my kids and my students.”

“I teach motorcycle riding for the state of Minnesota and work with my husband who has a painting business, and I like to listen to The Patriot when I’m doing stuff around the house,” said Katie. “It’s a conservative view of politics, life, culture, and it’s my values, Christian values.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Mitch Berg, radio personality, The Patriot: “Our show was basically started by a bunch of bloggers who basically got together to have fun, do radio, and meet babes, and we have fun getting people together. Conservatism is such a solitary thing, right? People don’t get together and go to protests and march around as much as people on the other side do. This is kind of our version, to say, ‘Hey, there’s other people out there. Have some fun, make some friends, socialize a little bit.’ It’s a lot of fun.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Carol Kusic, Darlene Lund, and Debbie Bruck, Shoreview. “We need change. It just seems like the whole world is crumbling, and we’re just watching it. Hopefully we can come back from it,” said Bruck. “Donald Trump is harsh, but he brings up good points,” said Lund. “His ideas of trying to straighten things – just the immigrants and the way the country is going – are good.” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Alyssa Brekken, Eagan: “I’m the traffic manager at The Patriot, so I schedule all the commercials and such. It’s fantastic to come out to events like this, because you see the Republican base of Minnesota start to rise, and at The Patriot we have a front-row seat for that. This year we’ve seen more and more people become more vocal than ever, and where they once were kind of quiet now they’re starting to rise up, and that’s cool to see.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Julie and Bruce Clay, Spring Lake Park. “We don’t pay for cable TV, so we came here to watch the debate,” said Bruce. “It’s nice to talk to like-minded people. The country’s not going in the right direction. Secure the borders. Support our troops. Don’t cause racial trouble in the country. Reverse that trend of causing racial tension. I support the police department. I don’t agree with Black Lives Matter and the chants they chant at the police.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jennifer Holmquist, Shakopee: “I want to be with like-minded people, and I’m a big Patriot radio fan. They say pretty much what I’m thinking, and I like to know that there’s somebody out there with a platform providing information. I try to let people know that they need to listen more. I want more people to be educated and informed, and I think that our culture has fallen away from that. I really like Carly Fiorina – and not because of her gender, by any means. I’d rather have a man be president, actually.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Chris Fields: “I’m the deputy chairman for the Republican Party of Minnesota. There’s a real strong belief that a Republican is going to be the next president. When you look at the Democrats, they’re in disarray. The Democrats have owned the black vote, but black people have not done better under Obama, or Democrats, period. For the last 50 years they’ve owned this black vote, but yet black poverty is at its highest levels, we have the highest levels of broken families in the black community, and the lowest levels of education attainment here in Minnesota as compared to whites, so really, what has the Democratic party done for the black voters? The answer to that is, sadly, not much.”

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/17/2015 - 10:47 am.

    Funny

    Very short on specifics, this bunch. Its also kind of interesting that the one that says “I want more people to be educated and informed.” Studies find that Right Wing media consumers are the worst informed people in the country, they’re even worse then people who don’t follow news at all.

    But the best part of all is that they think they have a great group of candidates. Not the clown car that most of the country sees. I wonder how that happened?

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/17/2015 - 10:50 am.

    Funny…

    Why is it that so many people who call themselves “Patriots” don’t understand the basic function of their own government and citizenship in a democracy? Someone should explain to these people that if they want a government that will enforce their “values”, we have to tear up our Constitution… and THAT is NOT a patriotic impulse.

    Someone also needs to explain to these people that the fact that they share a country with people who have different “values” doesn’t mean they’re victims of oppression, or that the world is collapsing.

  3. Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/17/2015 - 12:13 pm.

    Stay classy

    From Mitch Berg: “meet babes”.

    Really?

    Way to stay classy and exhibit those good Christian conservative values held in such high esteem by many of the other folks quoted in the article.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/18/2015 - 09:22 am.

      All Class, and a Yard Wide

      If a Democrat said anything like that, there would be triumphant howls from Republicans showing how this proves the “Democrat Party” is full of hypocrites and that’s where you’l find the real sexists.

      Because it was a conservative Republican, however, the standard responses to your comment will be as follows:

      1. It was just a joke.

      2. Lighten up, why dontcha?

      3. More liberal political correctness! I swear, you can’t say anything these days without offending someone.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/18/2015 - 11:46 am.

      Heeey, Bay-Be!

      I caught that too and wondered about his motivation to support his cause. Is he out to make America a better place or make his place a better bachelor pad?

      Basically he’s basically out to party on, dude.

  4. Submitted by Larry Piumbroeck on 09/17/2015 - 01:00 pm.

    Mitch Berg? Meet babes? Pleeze! What is really sad is these people think that Republicans represent Christian values. Nothing could be further from the truth. To see such young people caught in this trap of misinformation and ignorance is very sad. The young is whom we once took hope in making our future bright. Here they are being led by the ignorant to believe in people who have no desire to support them but instead represent the billionaires and corporate interests. Our country I not about right and left, it’s about facts and non-facts, solving problems together and compromising to do so. Even their God Ronald Reagan understood this. These folks could not support Reagan in this lost GOP.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/17/2015 - 01:16 pm.

    Mostly

    … what I read in this piece is an endorsement of theocracy. It’s not surprising that there’s a “cult-like” atmosphere to the group, because “conspiracy” is the underlying implication of much of what they have to say. It’s not enough to disagree with lefties, people on the left have to be characterized as evil. A generation or two back, that mind set would have been viewed as extremist by Republican stalwarts, but the party has been taken over by the right wing – as exemplified by many of the comments under the photos – and what used to be considered the lunatic fringe has increasingly become the mainstream. In any case, nothing I read here inspires confidence in having Republicans in power.

  6. Submitted by Wesley Volkenant on 09/17/2015 - 01:25 pm.

    With Pictures, It Looks a Like Our Northern Suburbs

    And it’s scary, because reading the blurbs associated with the pictures, these are people with very scary values for our modern society, and through folks like Mitch Berg and Chris Fields, they have a very distorted, inaccurate frame of reference for the world around us.

    We don’t live in Christ’s Land… Christian values are nice, and if everyone lived a respectful, charitable life towards others, based on Christ’s teaching, we would probably all live well. Pope Francis, for example, has a lot of good things being said, about a better direction for those who want to truly live a Christian life. But, not everyone is a Christian, and living with a narrow, isolation of particular pieces of Biblical passages, has led to the Kim Davises of this world, who make it a bad place to live for most of us.

    We live in a Secular world, with validly multiple religions amongst us, as well as many who don’t practice any religion. Our laws are to be gender-neutral, religiously-neutral, class-neutral and race-neutral. So, no, our society is not failing (though it has failed to adopt all that the religiously Right expects, thus it is a failure in their eyes). So, it means we have a system of checks and balances, so no, Rick Santorum, a President doesn’t just to ignore or obstruct a Supreme Court ruling he doesn’t like. So no, Republicans who think like Mike Huckabee, that having a government official take a stand for their perceived religious freedom and obstruct the legal duties and responsibilities of their office, you won’t win this one, and like George Pataki said, Kim Davis is flat out in the wrong.

    Democrats will win back the White House in 2016, Chris Fields. They’ll probably win back the Senate, too. But the Democrats have a lot of work to do. They need to market the Obama successes of the past 6+ years, they need to market the positives of the progressive agenda, and while I don’t think disarray is a good characterization, there are divides within our Party (probably less-so than in the five wings of the Republican Party), so we will need to work to coalesce behind our eventual nominee, be it Sanders, Clinton or perhaps Biden.

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/17/2015 - 01:34 pm.

    I Tried Listening to “The Patriot” Once

    I wanted to take notes about any possible misinformation and outright falsehoods that the hosts and their guests were portraying as truth. I gave up after an hour.

    I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up.

    It was a continuous stream of demonstrable falsehoods and misinformation.

    I’m sure the sky in the imaginary world these people inhabit looks perfectly red, white, and blue to them,…

    but I sadly fear that, to the rest of us it would look a sickly and menacingly dark shade of pea soup green with shifting stripes of fluorescent green and orange swirling through it.

    The rest of us would have the sense to get out from under such a sky,…

    but, like ad hoc weather watchers who can’t seem to resist putting their lives at risk by standing outside, seemingly hypnotized, until a tornado comes within a few feet of them,…

    these folks seem to be so hypnotized by the blanketing sky that echoes back to them only what they want to hear,…

    that they can’t seem to comprehend how it will envelop them and destroy them if what it represents ever fully comes to power in this nation.

  8. Submitted by Bill Willy on 09/17/2015 - 06:02 pm.

    Gallup: Animal rights tied with Republicans

    There are a few pretty good Matt Taibbi articles on this “phenomena” on the Rolling Stone web site (www.rollingstone.com/contributor/matt-taibbi).

    One of them (from late July) does a great job of summing up the trouble Republicans are in while, at the same time, provides Democrats some food for thought…

    “In the Age of Trump, Will Democrats Sell Out More, Or Less?

    “The collapse of the GOP gives the Democrats an opportunity to abandon ‘lesser evilism’ — but they probably won’t

    “Over the weekend, polls showed that the Trump-fueled collapse of the Republican Party is reaching historic depths. According to CNN, the GOP’s approval rating is now down to 32 percent, the lowest level in over two decades. It probably won’t be trending up anytime soon, either.

    “News of the Republican approval-rating slide came not long after the release of a Gallup survey showing that 32 percent of Americans now believe animals should have the same rights as people. That number is likely to keep climbing – though one can’t say the same for the GOP’s numbers, given the nation’s demographic situation. Animals are now a better political futures bet than Republicans.”

    The article goes on to talk a little about the obvious DFL glee Trump’s success is generating, but then calls into question the contemporary Democratic habit of “following Republicans” (on their march to the right).

    “Theoretically, the collapse of the GOP should mean we can ease up on the whole ‘we must accept the lesser evil’ argument. After all, the Greater Evil is now shooting itself in the face on TV every day.

    “But it turns out that mainstream Democrats believe just the opposite – that with the GOP spiraling, the party should now brook even less dissent within their ranks. They’d like a primary season with no debate at all, apparently.”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/in-age-of-trump-will-democrats-sell-out-more-or-less-20150728

    Another seems particularly relevant to this article:

    “The GOP Is Now Officially the Party of White Paranoia

    “The rise of Trump obliterates all other issues — campaign 2016 is now almost entirely about race . . .

    “In the elaborate con that is American electoral politics, the Republican voter has long been the easiest mark in the game, the biggest dope in the room. Everyone inside the Beltway knows this. The Republican voters themselves are the only ones who never saw it.

    “Elections are about a lot of things, but at the highest level, they’re about money. The people who sponsor election campaigns, who pay the hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the candidates’ charter jets and TV ads and 25-piece marching bands, those people have concrete needs.

    “They want tax breaks, federal contracts, regulatory relief, cheap financing, free security for shipping lanes, antitrust waivers and dozens of other things.

    “They mostly don’t care about abortion or gay marriage or school vouchers or any of the social issues the rest of us spend our time arguing about. It’s about money for them, and as far as that goes, the CEO class has had a brilliantly winning electoral strategy for a generation.

    “They donate heavily to both parties, essentially hiring two different sets of politicians to market their needs to the population. The Republicans give them everything that they want, while the Democrats only give them mostly everything.

    “They get everything from the Republicans because you don’t have to make a single concession to a Republican voter.

    “All you have to do to secure a Republican vote is show lots of pictures of gay people kissing or black kids with their pants pulled down or Mexican babies at an emergency room. Then you push forward some dingbat like Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin to reassure everyone that the Republican Party knows who the real Americans are.”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-gop-is-now-officially-the-party-of-dumb-white-people-20150904

  9. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/17/2015 - 07:09 pm.

    Yikes!

    The GOP is doomed if this group is representative of its current membership.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 09/17/2015 - 09:21 pm.

    Just curious

    What is the right path / Way? What is the wrong path, and some explanation on why what some see as right is wrong and why some see as wrong is right!
    What makes Obama the worst president ever?
    What is the great advantage to growing and entrepreneurship for America if we are all like minded people? Does that mean, 1 fast food restaurant, 1 church denomination, 1 car type, 1 house type, clarity on “like minded” and the benefits.
    Could there be some explanation on why 90% of left leaning folks are “stupid” i.e. what makes them stupid? Lack of grade school education etc? Would just like to get a clue what those folks need to hone up to not be “stupid”! Any help in making folks not so stupid, seems to be the christian thing to do, especially if you are an educator. .

    • Submitted by Tim Olson on 09/18/2015 - 07:57 am.

      What makes Obama the worst president ever?

      Governing while black.

    • Submitted by Jim Boulay on 09/18/2015 - 09:26 am.

      Obama Memorial

      Visited Washington this summer. Great place to see the diversity in the ethnic and cultural background of my fellow traveling Americans! Every American should make this pilgrmmage. I kept thinking of where are they going to build the Obama Memorial! I hope I live to see the day it is finished! He’s gotten us out of the 2 wars and the great recession W got us into. He brought healthcare to millions and got the economy back on track. His accomplishments will be historically important and this on top of being the first African American President! He could win a 3rd term against this bunch!

  11. Submitted by Jim Boulay on 09/18/2015 - 09:10 am.

    Only white patriots?

    Unofficial survey but by looking through the photos the only minority patriots I see are Mr. Fields and Bobby Jindal on the TV!

  12. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/18/2015 - 03:59 pm.

    Obama Presidency

    I have to wonder what conservatives don’t like about Obama and his administration. If 90% of liberals are idiots, then what in particular are they getting wrong? Is the economy not humming along? Unemployment is down, so that can’t be it.

    More people have health care coverage than ever before. Gays can now marry, but that was a court item, not an executive branch item. And more freedom for people isn’t a bad thing.

    Wages are flat, but Obama is addressing that with higher minimum wages. Maybe they can ding him for helping out poor people, except it helps people make ends meet.

    I guess I’m a little confused as to what exactly is going wrong with society.

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