I have long lamented the state of affairs with the political parties in North Dakota. The Republican party has become a very big-tent party. In most of the state, if someone wants to run for office, they realize their only hope for success is to run as a Republican. They may or may not have any inclination to party platform positions, such as lower taxes, limited government, and school choice. Nonetheless, they have the (R) behind their name, therefore, they are elected. As this occurs, the conviction of the party in its own platform weakens considerably. The parameters of what it means to be a Republican become diluted. When you say you are a Republican in North Dakota, it covers a broad spectrum of political ideology. As the big-tent ND Republican party's number of elected officials and its ideological spectrum grow, the remaining ideological spectrum held by the Democrats shrinks. The Democrats are evermore relegated to far-left policies which fewer and fewer North Dakotans agree with, such as social justice issues, gender identity issues, and free college, free daycare, and free everything.
That’s bad for North Dakotans, because during elections they look to Democrats, who stand for very little that isn’t far-left, or to Republicans, who can stand for nearly anything. There are the Libertarians, which as Ronald Reagan said, philosophically have very little difference from conservatives, but for several reasons, have not been able to gain traction in the state.
I think the inability of any third party to gain relevance in the state is the reason that old-guard Republican party leaders are ambivalent or oblivious to the fact they are currently driving momentum for the creation of a third party. Such a third party could be called the Small Government Republican Party. The reason it hasn’t yet happened is the same reason I am still firmly a Republican; the NDGOP Platform is fantastic. It represents exactly what we need in the state. It would, therefore, be odd to form a third party which has as its platform, the exact same platform as another party. The difference would be that this new party would stick to it, and hold people accountable. That’s exactly why, when I created the Bastiat Caucus, our platform was the Republican Party platform. The difference is we aspired to be true to it at all times, whether or not politically beneficial.
Over the last eight years, the state has had gradually improved conservative representation. We have made great strides in several areas, with one glaring exception being spending. Also, over the last eight years, the grassroots movement has been growing significantly. People are passionate, they are involved, and they are demanding accountability of their elected officials. It’s a truly beautiful thing.
Until very recently, those of us that believed in and promoted adherence to the party platform were derided as “far-right” and an “ultra-conservative” faction. As a side note, let me refresh you on the real meaning of terms in the North Dakota Republican party now: Ultra-conservative means conservative, conservative means moderate, and moderate means progressive or liberal. If the moderates (progressives) would switch to the Democrat party, we would suddenly have two good parties representing two different, but more common ideologies in North Dakota.
Back to my statement that old-guard, country club Republicans are driving the interest to create an alternative party. The conservative movement has grown strong enough that they have moved from ridiculing it, to fearing it. Many proposals have been made, and several passed that have as their sole motivation the protection of the country club elites. They intend to squelch debate and provide barriers to participate. They took away the vote from representatives of Young Republicans and College Republicans, because the kids can’t be trusted to do as they’re told. They do not want anyone to question or embarrass current elected officials. They do not want to deal with “rabble rousers” demanding accountability. (God forbid that elected officials be held accountable.) Over the years, they have become more overt in marginalizing the more conservative faction of the party, favoring the good ol’ boys club atmosphere the old guard has become comfortable with. Now, they are outright hostile to grassroots conservatives.
I ask them, when you shun the passionate, the active, and the young, how do you survive as a party? Yes, for the time being your position in your special club might be safe, but what about that little thing about furthering the cause of liberty in our state?
Let me tell you, there will be more accountability. We aren’t going away. The Republican party will either come out the other end stronger than ever, or it will implode. Interestingly, it’s not up to the conservatives what the outcome will be. It is up to the old-guard.