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.

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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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