Posted by: ericgrimsrud | January 6, 2016

Columnist’s policy of 1946 still good today

I will begin this new year with an editorial that I have retrieved from the archives of a weekly newspaper in Minnesota. First, a confession: the columnist being referred to here is my father, Alton Tacitus (AT) Grimsrud, who had just purchased the newspaper of Zumbrota, Minnesota, in a prosperous rural area just north of Rochester. While I was only two years old at that time, I have occasionally used those archives in order to see AT’s take on the issues of his time.

AT spent his entire life in journalism – from age 13 when he started an apprenticeship under his uncle at the Westby Times of Westby, Wisconsin, to age 87 when he posted his last column at the Zumbrota News. He learned much about that profession as well as mid-western politics at the University of Wisconsin and the Capital Times of Madison. After a couple decades spend at the newspapers of Viroqua and Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, he arrived in Zumbrota, Minnesota, where his four children would grew up and his descendants would continue to run that newspaper to this day.

On October 4, 1946, AT wrote the following editorial for his new paper.

“An editorial column ought to have a political policy. As to this, your editor cherishes the rare privilege of the free press. We don’t believe in committing blank check approval of any political party and then have to swallow all policies or persons of said party. “The Republican party, to which most of our readers no doubt adhere, is by tradition and present commitment, devoted to reducing government expenditures. Yet, any impartial poll of Republicans, as well as Democrats, would show that an overwhelming majority are members of some pressure group employing hired lobbies at Washington and St. Paul to get from Congress or the legislature a slice of tax money for his or her personal interest. We have the powerful veterans lobby, the farm lobby, a variety of business lobbies, the labor union lobbies, railroad and highway lobbies. A story in the Minneapolis Tribune Sunday under Washington dateline, said that pressure groups’ hired lobbies tapped Uncle Sam for five billion dollars this year. A federal handout for me but not for you is a too common fallacy by which Americans of all parties hope to balance the budget. “So it appears that a newspaper with a definite party line has nothing but ‘skeletons in the closet’ to plague it, thereby eventually losing whatever ‘kick’ there is in the week-in-and-out attempt to be a sincere if not always expert judge of political leaders and issues. “We can offer as a safe guide to (The Zumbrota) News political policy the assertion that government is best which creates a well balanced economy, infinitely superior to that government which aims only to govern the least. If a lot of the fog that clouds the vision of American citizens could be swept away, the bogeys of communism and reaction which liven up political campaigns would become the ghosts which they are, and we could promptly pattern our politics after the most efficient democracy in the world today – Sweden.”

If you happen to have been following some of my posts on this blog you might note a distinct similarity between my father’s views and mine. This, in spite of the fact that I spent my working years in science, not journalism or politics (my older brother, Dave, bought that “farm”, so to speak, and has since passed it on to his sons).  Therefore, any similarity between me and my father can be explained only via the genes in my blood or, more likely, by the impressions he made on me during my more informative years.

In any case, if AT was still calling the shots at the Zumbrota News, his now 70-year-old column shown above suggests that he also might have come out in favor of the political independent, Bernie Sanders, for President in 2016. The influence of the Progressive Movement – which was initiated at the onset of the 20th Century by Wisconsin’s Republican Senator “Fighting Bob” La Follette and was continued by La Follete’s two sons – made a lasting impression on AT.  For a summary of La Follete’s enormous impact on American policies –  he was voted one of the seven Greatest Senators in US history by the US Senate in 2000 – see   In reading this summary, you might come to wonder if Bernie Sanders is “Fighting Bob” reincarnated.



  1. According to Forbes: “Best countries to do business?”
    Socialist democracies rate much higher than U.S.

    [Response from Eric: Thanks, Dave, for that reference. (For any readers that might not know, Dave is that elder son who carrier on AT’s mission much more than I). ]

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