This has been an eventful week for me, politically speaking. I announced my retirement from the state legislature at the upcoming completion of my term in December. It will have been a 10 year stint. Like many, I viewed the legislative seat not as mine to fight for and keep, but as the people’s, who would decide when it was time for someone else to hold the seat. As it turns out, I made the decision for them. Sometimes it’s just “time.”
I’ve frequently joked that a legislator’s emotions at the adjournment of a legislative session are similar to a woman who just gave birth; ask either if they are interested in doing it again, and the answer is likely, “No way”. But give them a year, and the answer often changes to, “Sure, why not?” At the completion of the 2019 session it felt the same again, but this time I felt it a little more deeply, as I realized I had become pessimistic and cynical. I thought it was likely that 2021 would be my final session. Because of that I went into the 2021 session with an intention to be positive and happy every day, and to really enjoy it, as it would most likely be my last.
By reframing things in my mind, I had a quite enjoyable session, despite the ridiculous mask mandate. Folks noticed and commented on my positive attitude. Nevertheless, at the end of the 2021 session I continued to believe I was done. Between then and now I wavered on that decision – a lot. It’s hard to leave when you know what you’re doing is important. In the end, I realized the work will never end, and there comes a point in which you must trust that others will carry on the fight in your stead.
I remain on my path. Politics is not just something that some people are into, and the rest are annoyed with. Politics shapes what our world will be like in 10, 20, or even 100 years. It’s important to fight for a better world, especially when a far less perfect society is looming on the horizon. For many of us this isn’t a choice. It shouldn’t be a choice. Nothing we do in the aim of furthering liberty is too small, be it discussing topics with a focus on freedom at the coffee shop, or supporting a candidate for office.
We must keep working, whether or not we see the desired outcome of what we are doing. We will never know if some small act will have touched someone in such a way as to have a ripple effect to a degree we could never have envisioned or hoped for. That’s why I tell you this; it doesn’t matter if we win – it only matters that we try, and we keep trying. Never give up hope. A world without hope is the last thing we want as our legacy.
I will continue to work to inspire people to step up to run for elected office. Just as importantly, I intend to continue to hold elected officials accountable. The most glaring, inexcusable issue for which feet should be held to the fire on is spending and budgets. The majority of the state legislature, the Governor, and our Congressional delegation all need severe wake-up calls that the people of North Dakota are fed up.
The most immediate opportunity for involvement, occurring as you read this very column, are the legislative district conventions. If you have been thinking about making a run for the legislature, THIS IS THE TIME. Make a difference, and let me and others help you. This is also the time to put your hat in the ring for city commission, county commission, park board, and school board. Remember that many times the people that run for these seats believe they have great ideas on how to spend your money. We instead need people who have great ideas on how NOT to spend your money.
Whether you want to run, are prodding someone to run, or will commit to helping someone who is running, let your voice be heard now. You have a choice; stay silent, be too busy, or be ambivalent to the war for the heart and soul of this country, or fight. To those of you who will fight; Welcome. I tip my glass to you.