On election night, we published “The Minuteman’s 2018 Election Night Predictions“. I can honestly say that being 100% correct, when it comes to predicting winners in an election, isn’t altogether a good feeling. I’ve taken some time to reflect on the results of Tuesday’s midterm. And I must admit that I have mixed feelings on just how much of a victory the races actually are for the people of North Dakota.
There’s no question that Congressman Kevin Cramer’s win over incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for U.S. Senate was huge. Of all the U.S. Senate seats that flipped from Democrat to Republican Tuesday, Cramer had the largest margin of victory— nearly 11 points. Of course, that wasn’t anywhere close to State Senator Kelly Armstrong’s 24-point victory over Mac Schneider in the U.S. House race. And it could be argued that Armstrong has the potential to be the most conservative Congressman we’ve ever sent to Washington. But how will these men govern once they’re seated in DC? We’re $21.7 TRILLION in debt and climbing. With a huge spending problem and near trillion dollar deficits, we need vocal leadership that demands a change of course. Will we get it?
As expected, Republicans won the day when it came to statewide races— Attorney General, Secretary of State, Tax Commissioner, Public Service Commissioners, and Agriculture Commissioner all fell in favor of the incumbents. Overall, this was better than the alternative of electing Democrats. But the flip side is that the power structure of the NDGOP elite remains in place. And for those who’ve followed The Minuteman for a while, you know that we think the “Good ‘ol Boys Club” needs broken up— we need more limited government Republicans in Bismarck. But until viable alternatives can successfully challenge them in State Conventions and/or Primaries, then the status quo will continue to reign supreme. I do want to give a shout out to Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus, who I feel is hands down the best of this group. I’ve listened to Kroshus a number of times and am always impressed by his consistent voice for private property rights.
As for the State Legislature, there wasn’t a whole lot of change. Democrats picked up four seats— three in the House and one in the Senate. The bright spot of the night — and perhaps the election — was found in District 3 where incumbent Senator Oley Larsen handily beat his opponents. Maybe one of his opponents — the bitter Andrew Maragos — will finally realize, after his third defeat this year, that it’s time to just walk away. But I digress.
Larsen’s running mates — and political newcomers — Jeff Hoverson and Bob Paulson also had big victories. There’s little doubt that District 3 is the most conservative district in the state in terms of their representation. Let’s hope some of that limited government mentality rubs off on their colleagues at the Capitol. We desperately need it.
The biggest disappointments were undoubtedly found in the outcomes of Measures 1, 3, and 4. For those who aren’t fans of the initiated measure process, Tuesday’s results may actually lend credibility to their arguments. It wasn’t a good night for those who truly believe in limited government.
With passage of Measure 1, we’ll now be saddled with a problematic ethics commission. Oh, the name sounds wonderful, but the details found within the measure are troublesome— to say the least. Unfortunately, I fear that the extent of some voter’s research didn’t go too far beyond the description found on the ballots themselves. And that’s a problem. I’ll be shocked if there isn’t challenges made in the courts regarding issues of constitutionality. But only time will tell. From the unchecked rule-making authority of the ethics commission itself, to the potential for out-of-control lawsuits, and horrible reporting requirements, North Dakotans likely just voted a major headache into the State Constitution. If it wasn’t so awful, it’d be funny. Especially when we consider that Measure 3 was rejected largely on the basis of being “poorly written”. Measure 3 was a stroke of brilliance compared to this garbage.
Speaking of Measure 3, two things are blatantly obvious— a majority of North Dakotans are easily swayed by fear campaigns and some folks have no interest in personal freedom. It just boggles my mind how many people boiled their arguments down to the measure being “poorly written”. Seriously? This was especially troubling coming from limited government folks who call themselves conservatives. Yes, these same people who talk out of one side of their mouth about freedom and limited government played ventriloquist out of the other by saying there wasn’t enough regulations in the measure. Who cares about the fact that proponents of the measure repeatedly explained that this was intentional so that the State Legislature could do their job by writing in other provisions during the upcoming session. Included in these arguments, from the opposition, was the fact that there was no taxing mechanism beyond our existing state sales tax. Yep, apparently some “conservatives” like their taxes a bit more than they let on.
Furthermore, have any of these people ever observed floor debate during a State Legislative Session? If they think that initiated measures are the only pieces of proposed law that are “poorly written”, they’d be mistaken. It’s often admitted by legislators themselves — on the House and Senate floors — that certain bills are “poorly written”. And those bills come from Legislative Council! Yet, they are often either modified in committee or passed and modified later. Essentially the exact same thing could have been done with Measure 3— if it needed to be done at all. Which leads me to believe that some folks were either ignorant of the measure and/or process or just can’t help but impose their values upon others.
Then there’s the fact that the real losers here are those who have medical conditions that can benefit from the use of marijuana or its byproducts. They’re still waiting on medical marijuana to become a reality in the state— after it being passed two years ago. Oh, and never mind that they may have issues finding healthcare networks in the state that have doctors who will recommend the stuff. Not to mention the limited amount of dispensaries that will be available.
All that was accomplished by defeating Measure 3 was continuing an unnecessary War on Marijuana and delaying the inevitable. I guarantee you that in the years ahead we will see legalized recreational marijuana in North Dakota.
When it came to Measure 4, it seems some people simplified it by viewing it as a way to recognize and show appreciation for volunteer emergency responders. After all, who wouldn’t want to do that, right? Well, it sounds swell until we consider the economic aspects of it. The “free” license plates will cost taxpayers an estimated $3.5 million every biennium. The loss in revenue for the Parks and Recreation Department is projected to be $3.9 million. The total loss to the Highway Tax Distribution Fund over the course of 10 years is estimated to be $13.9 million. And this while the Department of Transportation is already facing revenue shortfalls. Then there’s the fact that I just don’t think it’s the proper role of government to grant special favors, in the name of gratitude, with other people’s money (i.e. tax dollars).
So, I ask you, did Tuesday’s election results provide us an outlook in which we can see government shrinking on the political horizon? Are the people of North Dakota ultimately winners?
Will we hear our representatives in Washington valiantly fight the Swamp as they call for smaller Constitutional government and major reductions in spending? Will they join with the likes of Rand Paul and Thomas Massie? Or are they more likely to company themselves with the likes of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan?
Republicans have overwhelming control of the North Dakota Legislature. Will we see unnecessary departments eliminated or at least downsized? Burdensome regulations scaled back and even removed? Less control of education at the state level in favor of local control and parental rights? A move towards true school choice? Significant spending reductions? The list is long.
Answer them as you wish, but I’m skeptical. What I see in the results of Tuesday’s election is pretty much the status quo. I’m guessing that we won’t see much in terms of significant results to reduce the size and scope of government in Washington or North Dakota. Two, four, and six years from now I’m guessing we’ll still have an astronomical U.S. debt, deficit, and an unsustainable level of spending. And I’m guessing North Dakotans will still see things like too much spending, no true relief from atrocious property taxes, and other examples of things that aren’t really Republican at all.
I hope I’m wrong.
If my skepticism proves to be true, then who is to blame? The people. After all, what have we done to demand true change?