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Published January 7, 2022

What Challenges Face the Democratic Nonpartisan League in North Dakota? 

Written by
Marvin Nelson
| The Dakotan
In the opinion of Marvin Nelson
Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Dis. 9, Rolla [Photo provided by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly]
In the opinion of Marvin Nelson
Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Dis. 9, Rolla [Photo provided by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly]

Editor’s note—The Dakotan has asked one legislator from either side of the aisle to answer the following question: “What challenges do you foresee on your side of the aisle as we enter a new campaign season in 2022?” What follows is the response we received from Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Dis. 9, Rolla.  

We also received the following response [link] to the same question from Rep. Sebastian Ertelt, R-Dis. 26, Lisbon.  

It comes down to image. 

North Dakota is a colony for others to exploit, has been since statehood, an offensive fact. We have been a poor state waiting for federal handouts to accomplish anything and using our education system mostly as a ticket to leave.  We aren’t poor anymore, but still wait for the federal government and export our children, but now it’s our choice.  We are the richest state that can’t fix a pothole unless the federal government sends the money. 

Offended by being a colony, want proof?  A supermajority tripped over itself to take the property of landowners and give it to companies for carbon or any other waste storage, passing and signing what was clearly unconstitutional.  Then after losing in court new lipstick was applied to a new bill to do the same thing in different words and once again, it passed.  Twice now the land has been taken by the legislature and the Governor for private industry.  You hear an industry worth billions and billions is coming, but it won’t come if we don’t steal the property and give it away. Welcome to the colony of North Dakota.  Want to count on 4 out of 5 justices continuing to protect you if private people come up with the significant money to continue challenging each new effort?  Good luck. 

We have energy, we export it.  From pharmaceutical factories to silicon crystal manufacturing, high energy users are elsewhere.  Who could beat our energy costs when little or no transmission costs are added? They should be here where we make so much energy we often can’t even get it on the grid.  Whatever we do with carbon storage, our power plants won’t be operating in a few years unless we use the power here.  Time is running out. 

People were really offended when a couple of professors put forward the idea of North Dakota as Buffalo Commons. They were behind the times, North Dakota was already moving there.  The decision was we were poor, we couldn’t afford to have more than a few population centers and the rest will be allowed to die. That policy continues today with oil giving a temporary boom In the west.  We were poor after a century of outside rule, we still behave like we are poor and unable to help ourselves.  By our investments we believe more in the future of communist China than of North Dakota. 

We could for instance have the state pay for school construction, but no, instead we send the money to Wall Street while you get hammered with property taxes.  The state could easily build schools like Wyoming, but we don’t. 

How do we get the people of North Dakota to share a dream of prosperity?  It is difficult.  With few office holders and less money, it is hard to tell the potential story of North Dakota. 

Money doesn’t tend to come to a minority party.  The significant money goes to those in power to buy the government and the media for their individual benefit.  In blue states it goes to one party, in red states another.  It is like a fight between two kings who are brothers with the peasants as cannon fodder 

There are those so powerful they buy both national parties.  There is no other reason for the price of pharmaceuticals and healthcare in general.  The latest ploy, take the pressure off by limiting copays while increasing the ultimate price even more.  You are the golden goose, they are trying to maximize egg production.  Time to end their return on investment. 

This brings us to Washington in general.  In North Dakota, election advertising is largely a campaign against Washington.  Who wants to campaign on the platform of ‘While I’ve been in office, my district continues to lose people and fail to get jobs? Or, isn’t it wonderful that so many are stuck in an apartment and can’t move ahead economically?’  It isn’t an election for the future North Dakota, it’s an election against Washington.  With Biden in the White House, it will be tough for Dem-Nonpartisan League people to share a dream for North Dakota. The positives get way less coverage than the negatives. 

So, it comes down to how does the Dem-Nonpartisan League get the candidates and the resources to run on a dream of prosperity that could be reality in North Dakota? Will people buy in and quit voting for Buffalo Commons?  It’s not an easy battle but fighting for your home seldom is. 

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