The Spirit Lake Indian Reservation has dire problems, most recently manifested in the death of a young child that is being investigated by the feds. When a news crew from NBC affiliate Valley News Live went on the reservation to report on the story of the child’s death, they were attacked.
A few months ago, Rep. Cramer caused controversy with some expressed outrage about what was going on at Spirit Lake. There’s no recording of what he said, and accounts differ, but he said something about wanting to slam tribal leaders up against a wall to get them to start protecting kids.
Democrats, intent on playing politics instead of paying attention to the issue at hand, have decided to interpret Rep. Cramer’s comments as him wanting to literally assault people on the Spirit Lake reservation. I don’t think any reasonable person thinks Rep. Cramer literally wants to beat people up at Spirit Lake, and sadly his expressed outrage at the situation seems to be the only real response from our federal delegation to the festering problem there.
Last night, Rep. Cramer was asked by Valley News Live’s Chris Berg why Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp in particular (whose party, again, has made much political hay out of Rep. Cramer’s comments about Spirit Lake) hasn’t been more outspoken about the problems on the reservation.
His answer? It’s the politics:
Rep. Cramer acknowledged that his comments, which he has apologized for, have sparked no small amount of criticism. But he also said he’s received “literally hundreds” of “calls for help” from the reservation.
Meanwhile, Senator Heitkamp and her political party would rather make Rep. Cramer the issue, and not the child abuse at Spirit Lake.
You really have to admire Rep. Cramer for taking on this issue. Politically, there’s little for him to gain. The Native American vote in North Dakota goes overwhelmingly to Democrats, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. And, in fact, there’s a great deal of risk to Rep. Cramer taking on this issue as we’ve already seen. The reservations are closed-off, insular societies that are extremely hostile to outside criticism however fair it may be.
That Cramer is willing to speak out about Spirit Lake, with little to win and a lot to lose, speaks to a sort of leadership rare in public office.
“I’m putting political correctness aside,” said Cramer. “The kids are worth the fight.”