For North Dakota’s Delegation, Should Politics Stop At The State’s Border?

heitkamp hoeven cramer

In today’s Grand Forks Herald editorial, Tom Dennis calls for “unity” in the next Congress in North Dakota’s congressional delegation. Senator Kent Conrad is departing, but is being replaced by Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp who will work alongside her long-time political rival Senator John Hoeven as well as Representative-elect Kevin Cramer.

According to Dennis, these three ought to set their differences aside when it comes to North Dakota. “‘Politics stops at the water’s edge,’ the saying goes, meaning Congress and the president should present to the world a united front,” writes Dennis. “The delegation needs a Flickertail variation on that theme, because where certain key issues are concerned, politics must stop at the border of the state.”

This smacks of rank parochialism of the sort that is tearing this country apart.

What Dennis wants to ensure is that North Dakota’s delegation continues to bring home the bacon for North Dakota. That means pork money. That means Dennis wants a continuation of the sort of politics that keeps the nation from doing anything meaningful about our fiscal problems because the delegations from every state want to bring home the bacon for their state.

And besides, what happens if our delegation has different beliefs about what’s best for North Dakota? Heidi Heitkamp’s political philosophy is markedly to the left of center. Senator John Hoeven is most definitely on Heitkamp’s right, and Representative-elect Kevin Cramer is far more conservative than either of them. These officials, two elected by wide majorities and one squeaking in to the Senate by a razor-thin margin, should govern based on their conscience and their campaigns and not be herded to certain well-worn position under a phony banner of localism.

The last thing North Dakota needs, the last thing America needs, is politics as usual.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • kevindf

    Print media in this state is hoping for a bailout.

  • borborygmi

    Thats a tough one. They are elected to represent the best interests of their state. If they feel that the bet interest for the Country is in the best interest of their state they may be at odds with their supporters. ‘Profiles In Courage’ a great book detailing this situation.
    Will any of them vote for one of the air bases closing …doubtful, against a favorable farmbill, probably not.

    • dlao

      I look at it a bit differently, I think they are elected to represent the country and just happen to come from a State. After watching the politcal games for many years now, I truly believe Almost all legislators in Washington would sink the Country to get their own head above water. And yes, I include my represenatives in that statement. Just watch them when they give a speech. It is always “look what I have done for the people of (insert state name here) and never about how look at what I have done for the people of this country.

  • dlao

    that’s the way it is now. Very few go to Washington to better the country as a whole. They don’t give a damn about the country, just getting in line with their hand out saying “give me, give me more, and give me more yet”. To them success is determined by how much money they spend.

    • LastBestHope

      Power corrupts. That is Truth in the same way that gravity is Truth.

      One of reasons I am sure Mitt Romney was who we needed is that he was an “untouchable” By that, I mean neither money nor sex nor a burning desire for self aggrandisement could have moved him to act in any way contrary to his own conviction that America is an exceptional nation. He believed in US. The promise of individual freedom enshrined in our Constitution was/is his core value.

      History has many examples of nations choosing the wrong road. That’s where we are now…on the wrong road going the wrong way. If America is to remain free it will take many leaders and followers, willing to devote themselves to the common good for as long as they live, both in public and private life.

      + a lot of prayer.

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