Nelson: Port has chosen feelings over facts

Nelson contends that Forum columnist Rob Port never truly understood conservativism.

Ross Nelson.jpg

Think of Rob Port as the John Roberts of the Forum columnists. Roberts, of course the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was a supposed conservative judge President George Bush placed on the court. This justice has steadily “grown in office,” as liberals like to say of conservatives who turn left when they fold. (Oddly “growth” in the direction of conservatism seems to never happen to liberal appointees to any office.)

Port admits that his anger, not his reason, is why he's shifted positions politically . Anger is at times a proper reaction to events but alone isn't much help to clear thinking. It shows with him. He apparently never understood conservatism, and this lack of foundation has been laid bare. Conservatives believe that there are no cures for many of mankind's ills, only palliative measures. As such they reject as fantasy liberals' utopian idea of perfecting humans with the right kind of government tyranny. The conservative, because he views the world as imperfect and imperfectible, will always take a half loaf such as Trump to no loaf.

A striking example of this is Port's favoring Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Like a true liberal his feelings have overwhelmed his mind. He prefers Biden with his failing mental and physical health—a problem so severe Democrats want to remove him from any responsibility as the Commander in Chief with control of the nuclear button—to Trump's personal vulgarity and bombast. Better to have a senescent, doddering man destroy the country with his policies than to have to put up with the orange ogre. As an independent writer Port was, as a critic says, “a reliable voice of conservatism in the state.” This is no longer the case, for whatever reason.


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In his new-found wrath and embrace of liberalism Port has linked with his new comrade-in-arms Forum columnist Jim Shaw on COVID policies and masking. Both are invulnerable to contrary evidence about the usefulness of masking, and neither has been able to answer the question why, if single masking worked, we are now being advised to wear two and even three masks. Neither has the wit to account for the decline in North Dakota COVID cases that started just before the statewide masking mandate. Nor do they account for the endless charts that show no correlation between the severity of masking and lockdowns and the rates of infection and death. These things don't matter; Port now believes that feelings trump any sort of science or evidence. Blessed be the government.
Ditto his mindless fury toward the so-called Bastiat Caucus. The latter favors minimal government and taxes, liberty against needless oppression, and social conservatism, the things that have comprised conservatism since FDR's constitution-burning reign until lately. (Speaking of which, what is his take on Biden wanting to pack the Supreme Court? Another good thing in Port's novel world view?) That there's a visibly conservative group in North Dakota's legislature sticks in Port's allegedly conservative craw. Bizarre.


Port admits that he can't understand why liberal and conservative alike think he has changed. There are none so blind as those who won't see.

Nelson lives in Casselton, N.D., and is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion page. Email him at

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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