On the surface North Dakota appears to be one of the more conservative states in the union; however when you start to peel back the layers you begin to see something quite different. Every other year North Dakota’s legislators come together and currently we’re in the middle of one of our legislative cycles. On a paper we’re one of the reddest states in the union. Our House has 94 members and only 23 are Democrats. In the Senate 14 out of 47 members are Democrats. So out of 141 legislators 104 are Republicans with a Republican governor. With that kind of lineup it should be a slam dunk for conservatism in the great state of North Dakota. I mean there’s no way the big government policies and programs of the left should gain a foothold in a state that is completely dominated by Republicans. After all Republicans stand for individual liberty and limited government…or do they. Just yesterday our House voted to implement the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid (57-36) for a three year trial run, an expansion our Republican governor supports. And like most government programs once you create and implement it, it will be hard to get rid of. The bill now moves to the Senate and more than likely will pass. Businesses support this expansion because it permits them to drop their employees’ health insurance coverage and not have to pay a penalty when the government program kicks in. One Republican House member actually said this was “pro-business” bill. I guess it is if employers can cut costs by dumping their employees on to a state Medicaid program. The taxpayer will pick up the tab.
Another example of Republicans not acting like the party of limited government and individual choice occurred earlier in the week when a school choice bill was killed. They had an opportunity to champion individual choice and promote the free market in regards to school choice and shot it down. Again special interest groups (teachers) from the public school system wielded a great deal of influence over Republican members to kill the bill. Republicans have traditionally supported school choice legislation while the left has traditionally opposed it. How is it that in a state as red as North Dakota that the left’s agenda is being advanced?
Last June voters in North Dakota had an opportunity to eliminate property taxes and Republican lawmakers lined up against it. Why? We’re talking about liberty, freedom, and limited government; all the things Republicans are supposed to champion. The simple fact is this measure would have passed if it wasn’t tied to changing our constitution in a manner that would have pushed discretionary spending to the end of the line while other state priorities were pushed forward (like school funding). This discretionary spending allows businesses to receive subsidies in terms of tax breaks and corporate welfare. North Dakota politicians have the authority to dish out funds as they see fit and this is good for them and businesses. This is why both groups lined up against the measure and why so much money was spent to scare the public into believing they would lose local control of school funding. So again Republicans were the puppets of big business to the detriment of individual liberty and freedom.
Over the last few years I have noticed this disturbing trend in North Dakota; Republicans being influenced by powerful groups who embrace liberal policies. This has forced me to ask what makes someone a conservative. Does being pro-life make me a conservative if I believe in big government solutions? What if I’m a staunch supporter of gun rights but believe in wealth redistribution does this make me conservative? The answer is no to both. True conservatives anchor themselves to individual liberty and limited government. True conservatives know that without life there can be no liberty and without liberty there can be no pursuit of happiness and all of this hinges on natural rights. True conservatives stand firm on these principles. What’s happening here in North Dakota has nothing to do with conservatism or these principles. It has everything to do with power and control and both are tenets of the left. This is why it’s important to continue to call these phony conservatives out whenever they act against our core values. This is also why they do not deserve the honor of representing us.
Liberty forever, freedom for all!