Who Is TakeAction Minnesota?

Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts on the powerful political charity TakeAction Minnesota.  That series focused on what the group does.  Now that TakeAction has succeeded in electing the next mayor of Minneapolis, it is a good time to take a look at who the group is.

Current Minneapolis City Council member Betsy Hodges was elected the new mayor this week.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune gives credit where credit is due,


Hodges’ apparent victory comes after a political career spent in the trenches of progressive fights.  She cut her teeth in local politics in the late 1990s as an activist for Progressive Minnesota, now TakeAction Minnesota, working on education referendums and opposing stadium subsidies.  She later worked as an aide to Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman—now a supporter—and as development director at a nonprofit.

TakeAction helped propel her at the polls this week, in addition to such groups as the Service Employees International Union and womenwinning.

Just what sort of organization is this TakeAction, which has given us the next mayor of Minnesota’s largest city?  A quick glance at the group’s staff directory reveals that the organization’s most common title is “organizer.”  Yes, this progressive group follows the playbook laid out by Saul Alinsky in his 1971 book Rules for Radicals.

As one of the few people to have actually read Rules cover to cover [Alinsky really does dedicate the book to Lucifer, “the very first radical”], I can confirm that Alinsky’s radical revolutionary agitator tactics are well-suited to the mission of TakeAction.  Unfortunately for Minneapolis’ residents, those same techniques will ill serve the city’s highest executive office.

In endorsing Hodges’ candidacy, the Star Tribune’s editorial board noted that,

Taking on special interest groups has never bothered Hodges—an attribute that helps her stand out in the field of top mayoral contenders.

Looking at the resume of Mayor-elect Hodges shows that she has no private-sector experience.  In fact, from 1999 to 2001 she served as the interim head of TakeAction’s predecessor group.  The StarTribune has taken exactly the wrong lesson from Ms. Hodges’ early political career.  Taking on entrenched interests comes naturally to a life-long community organizer.  What does not come naturally is the ability to balance the interests of competing factions to promote the common good.

If we’ve learned nothing in the past five years as a nation, it’s that community organizers make for poor executives.  Tactics that work well when agitating against the establishment fall flat when you are the establishment.  To be fair, the Star Tribune did mention, regarding Hodges, that “we have concerns about her skills in building consensus.”

So what’s in store for Minneapolis in the next four years?  TakeAction is nothing but forthcoming on their plans to radically remake Minnesota in their progressive image.

Their biggest efforts center on raising the minimum wage, forcing private businesses to hire felons, and the on-going disaster that is Minnesota’s version of Obamacare: the MNsure health insurance exchange.

More disturbing even than the specific policies advocated by TakeAction is their far-left worldview.  Consider TakeAction’s description of building a people’s economy,

We need to make sure new and existing public infrastructure is thoroughly democratic: owned, managed, and controlled by the people it’s meant to serve.

Perhaps the voters in Minneapolis believe that workers owning the means of production is the most pressing issue the city faces.  Even if it isn’t, we’ll all find out over the next four years what TakeAction means by phrases like “democracy in the workplace,” asking “corporations and the wealthy to pay their share,” and “reforming financial institutions.”  In TakeAction’s view,

The richest companies in the world now pay their workers the lowest wages while taking in massive public subsidies and avoiding paying taxes.

So Hodges’ opposition to the Vikings stadium was not based on any concern for the public purse, but on a view of the private sector as the vulture class.  Her support of streetcars can be seen as support for public ownership of infrastructure.

Our Mayor-elect wants to grow the city’s population back to 500,000—a level not seen since the 1950’s.  More likely, those not down with the community-organizer vision of the revolutionary vanguard will vote with their feet and decamp for the suburbs or a slightly earlier retirement in Ft. Myers.

Cross-posted and comments welcome at Bill Glahn.