It’s not a term of endearment— “RINO”. Of course, this is an acronym for “Republican In Name Only”. Meaning, someone that claims to be a Republican but doesn’t represent the conservative principles the party professes to stand for. Unfortunately, this kind of Republican is fairly predominant across North Dakota’s political landscape. It’s well-known that in the majority of the state a candidate is unlikely to win an election unless there’s an (R) next to their name.
Having said that, I think it’s worthy of our consideration to ask the question, “Why do RINO’s win in North Dakota?” I believe there’s at least four fundamental reasons:
- The winning candidate is an accurate representation of those who elected them.
- There’s no viable limited government candidate to run.
- People who support the principles of limited government fail to get involved.
- It’s called “North Dakota Nice”.
Let’s consider each of these.
The Winning Candidate is an Accurate Representation of Those Who Elected Them
If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that in many instances RINO’s are elected because they are truly representative of the majority of people who are voting for them. I’ve always said that RINO’s don’t elect themselves. Enough people voted to put them into office. And oftentimes these same people demand that their elected officials support regulations, government programs, increased taxes/fees, etc. In short, they don’t mind a certain kind of big government.
There’s No Viable Limited Government Candidate to Run
One of the major problems that leads to RINO’s taking political office is that no viable limited government candidate steps forward to throw their hat into the political arena. Simply put— we can’t vote for a candidate who isn’t running. When limited government Republicans are left with the choice on election day of choosing between a RINO and a Democrat, they’re going to plug their noses and vote for the RINO. Yeah, it’s not much better, but when considering the alternative, it’s probably still better.
People Who Support the Principles of Limited Government Fail to Get Involved
This is a big one. And it’s horribly problematic. Far too many people choose not to be involved. Yes, chatting about politics — even complaining about them — at a local coffee shop or social media site can be fun. But that’s not political activism.
When was the last time you attended a district convention? When was the last time you were a delegate to a state convention? Or perhaps even voted in a primary or general election? These are where the candidates are chosen— and every vote matters.
There’s a myriad of other ways in which to be involved. Yet, many simply choose not to participate. We should never forget that apathy does not equate to change.
It’s Called “North Dakota Nice”
I actually wrote about this issue nearly two years ago. Yes, North Dakotan’s are nice. And yes, this is admirable. But there’s one place many of us need to learn that North Dakota Nice does not work. In fact, it can often be a horrible disadvantage. That is the field of politics.
We need to stop being afraid to step on toes. Yes, historically the incumbent typically reigns supreme in North Dakota. But if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to, then they need to go. I don’t care how nice they are or how long they’ve been in office. Those are very poor reasons to vote for someone. Issues and voting records matter. If they need to be challenged, then challenge them. And yes, that includes convention and primary challenges.
Perhaps the best example of what happens when RINO’s rule is found in the North Dakota Legislature. While there’s a supermajority of Republicans, overall it hasn’t resulted in less spending and limited government for the State of North Dakota. Whether it’s spending, education, property taxes, or other important issues; the Legislative Assembly in Bismarck has largely been a disappointment. And its been that way for a very long time.
Yes, it’s true that we get a win from time to time — like Constitutional Carry and homeschooling — but overall there’s a lot of room for improvement. And yes, there’s the Bastiat Caucus. But with all due respect, even some of them aren’t as Bastiat as they should be. Regardless though, not even the solid Bastiat’s can do it alone.
Think of it. The state can afford to completely eliminate income taxes and property taxes, but the votes just aren’t there in the legislature to do it. We need to break up the status quo.
We need more limited government types to get involved and let their voices be heard. If you’re in a position to run for office, then run. At the very least, we need you involved in every way that is possible according to your circumstances. Otherwise, we can just expect more of the same. And that’s just downright problematic.
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