If Only All Politics Were Local

In the Bismarck Tribune today columnist Ken Rogers asks the question, “Are all politics still local?”

He asks it in the context of the 2012 election cycle, noting that Rep. Rick Berg (who is running for US Senate) has taken a different tact from other North Dakota politicians like Senators Kent Conrad (who Berg hopes to replace) and Senator John Hoeven. What Rogers puts his finger on is the disconnect between popular opinions about national politics among North Dakotans (the government is wasteful and spending should be cut) and how they feel about federal spending on North Dakota (farm subsidies are good, etc., etc.).

It’s not an issue that’s unique to North Dakota. It’s the NIMBY attitude as applied to the federal budget. Federal overspending is bad, unless it’s being spent in our direction in which case it’s really, really good.

I don’t know to what degree Rick Berg has really moved away from that, I haven’t spent a lot of time studying it, but he does seem to be emphasizing it less that North Dakota’s representatives in Washington DC have in the past. Senator Kent Conrad, for instance, was a master at railing against budget deficits at the national level only to pivot on a dime and demand more federal money for North Dakota.

If that sort of hypocrisy is Mr. Rogers’ notion of politics being local, then give me none of it. I’m not interested in it.

What North Dakota needs, what every state in the union needs, is more local control. We need North Dakota leaders empowered to solve North Dakota problems. Our state leaders are more accountable to us than anyone serving in Washington DC. Our farmers shouldn’t have their success hinge on what’s in the next federal farm legislation. Our businesses shouldn’t have to worry about their business models being derailed by new federal health care mandates. Our energy producers shouldn’t have to worry about the EPA shutting their operations down based on ridiculous, cosmetic environmental standards.

We need the federal government put back into the constitutional box our founders created for it.

Sadly, the notion of “local politics” embraced by Senators Conrad and Hoeven (not to mention Senator Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy before them) has fed the growth of all-powerful federal government that has undermined the ability of North Dakotans to govern North Dakota for themselves.

If Rick Berg is bucking that trend, he’s got my vote.

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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  • DaveH63

    I don’t see Berg breaking the mold. More of the same. Just has an R after his name.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      In a lot of ways he hasn’t broken the mold, but in other ways he has.  Or at least is perceived as doing that.

      It’s a brave departure from what has, previously, been seen as the rote mechanism for getting elected in the state.

      • Cherz1967

        Why don’t you write about something we disagree on.  I’m tired of not being able to get after you like everyone else on your blog.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Well, you could try saying nice things.

          That would be a change of pace for the blog.

          • Cherz1967

            Let’s not push it. :)

      • borborygmi

        The proof as they say will be in the pork, how much and who gets it.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          That’s the old paradigm.

          The federal government is broke, and all that pork hasn’t been good for ND.  We need a new paradigm.

  • Steveengen

    Wow, Port rallies for local control, and at the same time, wants North Dakotan’s to throw away their local control by voting to eliminate property taxes.  He would have us believe we should all embrace the “do it on your own” mantra, but have every city, county, and school district be totally dependent on the Bismarck tit for their mik.

    Hypocrisy?  You define it, Port.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The problem is that you equate eliminating the property tax with a loss of local control.  Which isn’t true at all.

      You know our state’s population is about the same as a good-sized city in another state?  That city would be represented only by a city council, a few state legislators and of course statewide office holders.

      Here in ND that population is governed by counties, townships, municipalities, etc., etc.

      We have a lot of government in ND.  Plus, the measure has the legislature funding the municipalities with no strings attached.

      You should try reading it, and understanding it, before you talk about it.

  • John_Wayne_American

    We had the chance o set up LOCAL health care exchanges, but those that did not understand the issue, voted politics over what is the best way to handle a bad situation. With folks here on the SAB cheering them on. 

    Really sad.  I hate, I mean detest ObammyCare, but we will rue the day we didn’t set up the state exchange when we had the chance. Sliding every chip we have left, on one hail Mary spin on the SCOTUS is truly betting the farm, every insurance agency, brokerage firm, large employer group, and the Insurance company themselves in great peril.

    You talk about local control, we just pushed all our healthcare to Washington,  Yea team! ~rolleyes~

    • Lianne

      DC would have still controlled the health care exchanges.  It would have added millions of dollars of expense to our already ballooning state budget.  and a minor point was the fact that the mandated number of employees would not have been attainable. 

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      We had the chance o set up LOCAL health care exchanges, but those that did not understand the issue, voted politics over what is the best way to handle a bad situation. With folks here on the SAB cheering them on.

      Someone is pulling the wool over your eyes, i’m sad to say.

      North Dakota had no chance at local control of the exchanges.  Even under the legislation killed during the special session, the exchange would have had to be approved by the feds and every single plan offered on it approved by them too.

      Where, in that, is local control?

      You talk about local control, we just pushed all our healthcare to Washington,  Yea team! ~rolleyes~

      Control over our health care was already pushed to Washington.  The bill before the legislature wouldn’t have changed anything.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    Berg didn’t grow up collecting a government check like Gaylord Conrad and little Lord Pomeroy have. Dorgan has collected government checks for the majority of his adult life and will continue collecting them until the day he dies!

  • Cherz1967

    I can see the idiots have come to parade on your blog again Port.Steveengen and John_Wayne_American should turn of their computers and pick up a book and educate themselves, because their posts only reafirm my belief in their stupidity.

    • John_Wayne_American

      A vote against the state exchanges is a vote for the Federal Exchange, it is as black and white as any issue regarding state vs federal control. I am a big states rights advocate.

       I would have preferred these cowardly lions that voted against the bill would have proposed a “Nullification Bill” as long as they were feeling so “Conservative” but they didn’t. So we will learn next summer what the sentence for our crimes will be.

      • Cherz1967

        Oh you mean like the EPA letting us look after our own air?  or the Corps of Engineers looking after our own damb?  or like the USDA looking after our own farm programs?  Your either incredably niave or incredably stupid.  I think it’s just that you are that stupid.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        A vote against the state exchanges is a vote for the Federal Exchange, it is as black and white as any issue regarding state vs federal control. I am a big states rights advocate.

        And if you understood the issue before the legislature, rather than counting merely on what other people said about it, you’d know that there was no state control included.

  • Jimmypop

    “What North Dakota needs, what every state in the union needs, is more local control.”
    HOLY….and yet you support killing the property tax and sending ALL our local bucks off to bismarck and making us ‘peasants’ beggars to our kings?

    id bet you, like kasper ‘conservatives’, also support limiting growth of local government to an arbitrary rate, huh?

    • Cherz1967

      So you pay property tax?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m not sure why you think that the property tax measure is a local control issue.  It’s really not.  The political subdivisions have plenty of options to generate revenue.  They’ll still be allowed special assessments, for instance.  There’s the local sales tax.  Fees.  Etc, etc.

      The problem with the property tax is that it’s horribly expensive to administer and tramples both our privacy and property rights.  

      What of those things don’t you understand?

      • Jimmypop

        rob, youre kidding me right? fees? sales taxes? lets have some fun….have you actually looked into how high our sales tax would have to go to pay for unfunded mandates? do some quick math….

        worse, have you looked into current bonds and future bonding for projects? you guys really dont get what youre asking for.seriously. if you did, just those two things also should scare the bat crap out of you if youre in a growing city…..

        you guys dont get this….. its going to turn into income tax. period. that will leave us begging to our central government masters for our money back. some lady in dickinson i cant and will never get to vote for is going to tell me if i can fix the roof on my school…..that is CRAZY.

        have you looked into what you guys wrote? one of your big pimps is to cut state government staff by 12,000ish people the day it takes affect….. how many ‘stat’e employees do we even have? you guys really dont get it…you think youre going to gut state government…when in the real world is going to explode in size and kill the local government over night.

        • Cherz1967

          I’ll ask again.  Do you pay property taxes? Because if you don’t you should shut the bleep up, you don’t have a right to even speak about the problem.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            Cher, why do you hate my country’s first amendment?

          • Cherz1967

            You have a right to free speach, but you don’t have a right to lie. 

          • Jimmypop

            wow…..so to speak on any subject you have to be intimately involved with that subject? i disagree, but since you think thats clearly the case….

            i look forward to you shutting your ‘bleep’ mouth about any criticism of the people that make our laws….you know, unless you are a elected official.

          • Cherz1967

            I’ll take that as a no.  If you don’t pay property tax, then how can you understand what the people who do pay property taxes have to go through?

            Just what point of expertise are you speaking from?

          • Jimmypop

            i dont understand them? wow…. we all pay property taxes regardless of whether we own, rent or just work somewhere. heck, we even pay a tiny bit (yes, tiny fractions of cents) when we buy something.

            and more important, way to avoid all the points i made about them.

          • Cherz1967

            Thos are’nt points there bullshit.  What is to discuss.  Your just plain wrong.  Can I be any clearer?

          • Jimmypop

            yes, you can answer the questions….that would be quite clear. easy answers to silly questions, right?

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          This all sounds like an argument against unfunded mandates, not an argument against abolishing the property tax.

          I think you need to spend a little more time studying the issue.

          • Jimmypop

            ok, so i have people that never wish to address the point i bring up….. why? because you know you cannot.

            here is a simple one; what will sales tax have to go to to make up the difference? even HALF the difference?

            and another; what about bonds to build things? what happens to the existing bonds now and what happens when someone needs a future bond?

            let me know SPECIFICALLY about those two tidbits, please…..your e both so smart, you should have those answers on the tips of your keyboards.

      • Guest

        But it will save the corporations tons of money.
        And as you say, the subdivisions have plenty of options to generate revenue.
        You seem to be for more goverment control and at the same time admit that it will be able to be made up with other taxes

        • Jimmypop

          “You seem to be for more goverment control and at the same time admit that it will be able to be made up with other taxes”
          BINGO. we centralize the government and eventually MOST of our cash…then we raise local fees, sales taxes or income taxes to make up for it. its INSANE policy coming from ‘conservatives’.

  • toomuchguvmint

    Federal crop insurance has played a major role in destroying our rural communities as it has created an economic climate where only those with the largest investment and  profit guarantees are able to compete for farmland.  This mindless safety net entitlement philosophy has created legislation that guarantees a huge and perpetual prosperity for the largest and wealthiest farmers and has rewarded smaller farmers and those with no profit  and investment guarantees impossible competition.

  • Camsaure

    I remember back in the 60s when opponents used “the end of the world” argument when North Dakota proposed eliminating the personal property tax. Talk about a “class envy tax”. It was so bad that there were actually people who had old crappy furniture stored away to replace their decent furniture with when they were expecting the accessor to arrive. Guess what? The end of the world never happened and the public is glad that that regressive tax is gone. I am sure some progressive liberals still are out there whom sorely miss this bad, bad tax. But that’s libs for you.

  • Zelda

    The economic engine of this country, minus all the fluff and political speak, was built on supply and demand.  Translation:  personal responsibility.  If there is no demand, no supply is needed.  So those with their hand out–individuals, cities, townships, counties, state officials–look in the mirror.  You are providing the demand.  And many times, it is because of a want, not a need.  Many times it is also due to lack of planning on your part.  Knock it off!  Until you quit applying for tax-funded grants and/or state/fed programs to “save” you from yourself or the risk you take when you get into business (or develop a government entity), you will never be rid of the crap that comes from holding out your hand in the first place.  Get a clue.

    • Jimmypop

      local voters can replace local officials every election….. when all our cash goes to the state, we can do nothing about it.

      • Cherz1967

        except replace state officials at election time. . . idiot

        Please reveal more of your stupidity to us Jimmypop.

        • Jimmypop

          name calling….nice work. i win. ha!

          now, who sets the state budget and what percent of those people can i remove from office?

  • SP

    Bernie couldn’t get elected to state office in Vermont, but they would send him to DC.

    Sounds like Rob, through quietism at least, gave the Dems a nod for at least being in favor of the federal spending they fight for in their districts.

    Reminds me of Bob’s photo gallery of GOP ribbon cutters.

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