From time to time, I hear criticisms from within the North Dakota Republican Party that baffle me. A recent article we dropped here on The Minuteman reminded me of such criticisms.
As you may recall, Representatives Rick Becker (R – District 7) and Luke Simons (R – District 36) scored a perfect 100% in the recent American Conservative Union Foundation’s conservative rankings of the North Dakota Legislature — the only legislators to do so.
Yet, Becker and Simons are perhaps two of the most criticized within the NDGOP ranks. For example, during the 2017 Legislative Session, Becker was criticized for the number of bills he sponsored. I heard multiple reports that one Republican legislator was known to have said that he was inclined to vote against anything with Rick Becker’s name on it– such a thing is childish, at best.
I heard a similar report about Luke Simons while his "Raw Milk bill" was working its way through the legislative process. In fact, I wrote an article back in March defending the limited government legislator. Both he and Rick Becker have often been labeled as "libertarians"– as if that’s really such a bad thing. Simons has even been labeled an "anarchist" at times by others in the party. It’s a ridiculous assertion towards someone who simply espouses limited constitutional government– which, by the way, is something ALL of them took an oath to do.
But such criticisms aren’t limited to Rick Becker and Luke Simons. Others such as Dan Johnston (R – District 24), Sebastian Ertelt (R – District 26), Ben Koppelman (R – District 16), Matthew Ruby (R – District 40), Christopher Olson (R – District 13), and others have had similar things thrown their way as well. Even the most conservative member of the State Senate, Oley Larsen (R – District 3), often stands alone on principle– and is sometimes scoffed at for it.
The most recent criticism I’ve heard has been thrown the way of North Dakota’s newly elected Young Republican leadership. A week and a half ago, I wrote about their recent inaugural State Convention — which was dominated by young Liberty-loving Republicans. The criticism? That this organization was taken over by those who aren’t really Republicans. Seriously.
As I’ve pondered on these things – together with other examples I can think of – I hearkened back to the current platform of the NDGOP itself. I encourage you to read it. And I encourage you to check and see how the aforementioned people mentioned in this article stack up against that platform. If you’re honest, I think you’ll be impressed.
So, why is it that those who advocate for the principles of limited constitutional government and individual Liberty – those who best represent the party platform – seem to be criticized the most? And better yet, why isn’t more time spent criticizing those who don’t align nearly as well with the party platform?
For the sake of time, let’s look at just a few examples.
What about State Senator Judy Lee (R – District 13)? She received a paltry score of 39% for a conservative ranking– just 1% better than the best Senate Democrat. She voted against Constitutional Carry (HB 1169), Freedom of Speech on Campus (HB 1329), and Parental Rights in Homeschooling (HB 1428)– just to name a few. You can see her lengthy video history on the Senate Floor last session here.
Then we have State Representative Greg Westlind (R – District 15). Isn’t his 32% conservative ranking worthy of scorn from the NDGOP? After all, his score is actually 3% worse than former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Marvin Nelson. And in addition to the three bills mentioned in relation to Judy Lee, Rep. Westlind also favored Government Funding of the Arts– amongst other things. His video history is here.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that an overall conservative ranking of 57% for Republicans in the Senate and 65% in the House isn’t exactly a glowing example of conservative Republicans that hold anywhere close to the party platform. And where would the overall rankings be if it weren’t for the likes of Rick Becker, Luke Simons, and the others? In a nutshell, it would be worse than it already is.
At times, it seems there’s an identity crisis within the NDGOP. On the one hand, we have Establishment Republicans who – quite frankly – don’t represent the platform that well at all. On the other, we have the grassroots that are represented by those who take their oath of office seriously and do their best to adhere to the principles of limited government that the Republican Party is good at talking about.
The powers that be may criticize the latter, but let it not be under the guise that they’re "not really Republicans". Not only is such a statement inaccurate, but in consideration of the NDGOP Platform itself, it’s actually a statement of hypocrisy.
The only problem with the oft-described "Liberty Wing" of the party is that there’s not more of them. But apparently the NDGOP tent has become so large that the door is sufficient in size to have let in a bunch of RINO’s– and that’s the real problem.