Private organizations are designed with specific purposes— usually. When it comes to business, that purpose is fundamentally the bottom line— profits. A variety of nonprofits exist with defined purposes that are often explained in brief mission statements. For political parties, they develop platforms. If you ask Google what a political party platform is, you’ll get this:
“A political party platform or program is a formal set of principal goals which are supported by a political party or individual candidate, in order to appeal to the general public, for the ultimate purpose of garnering the general public’s support and votes about complicated topics or issues.” (Emphasis Added)
I think it’s a fair definition.
The North Dakota Republican Party has a platform. Unfortunately, we learned over the weekend that it doesn’t really mean anything. Their own State Committee voted against a proposal that was designed with the express purpose of making their platform — and associated resolutions — meaningful. The proposed rule change came from District 38 Chairman Jared Hendrix. I wrote about it two weeks ago here.
Had it passed, the NDGOP State Committee would have elected “a State Legislative Agenda Committee for the purposes of developing a legislative agenda for the succeeding legislative session” after adoption of the resolutions at the State Endorsing Convention. The duties of the committee would have been threefold:
- To develop and find sponsors for legislation according to the party’s platform and resolutions.
- To develop a legislative report showing the results of each bill and how each member of the legislature voted on them.
- To keep members of the North Dakota Republican Party updated on each piece of legislation throughout the process.
According to our sources, the two members of the State Legislature in attendance — Senator Dick Dever (R – District 32) and Representative Aaron McWilliams (R – District 20) — both spoke in opposition to the idea. No surprise there. Dever and McWilliams both attended the meeting as proxies— Dever on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R – District 37) and McWilliams for District Chair Susan Stibbe.
I should point out that there was nothing in Hendrix’s proposal mandating that Republican legislators vote for legislation proposed by the committee. Nor were there consequences for legislators who failed to vote for any proposals put forth by the committee.
So, why the opposition? Well, apparently some thought it would be too divisive. Which I suppose might be a concern for those not interested in actually advocating for the platform. Others pointed out that after bills goes through the legislative process they often come out on the other end as something very different than originally intended. That’s a fair point, but the proposal itself included the following provisions:
- That “all members of the North Dakota Republican Party” be notified of each bill and be updated on the “status of each”.
- And that upon completion of the Legislative Session that a “report shall indicate the success or failure of each bill”.
As you can see, any changes to legislation would have been reported as part of the requirements proposed by Hendrix. So, the argument that legislators would be inaccurately portrayed by the voting index shouldn’t have been much of an argument. Regardless, there were no amendments offered to resolve the supposed concerns. The NDGOP State Committee simply defeated the proposal — as is — on a vote of 14 Yes, 38 No, and 4 Absent.
With this defeat, it causes me to wonder what the point of the North Dakota Republican Party really is? Why do they even have a platform if they’re not committed to advancing the planks of it? Doesn’t that render the party — or at the very least, its platform — meaningless? I think it does. And the reluctance to advocate for these positions on the basis of it being too divisive only shows a party that basically stands for nothing.
I suppose in the end this isn’t really all that surprising. Remember, this is the same party that has elected officials like Senator Judy Lee (R – District 13)— who votes more like a Democrat than a Republican. Or how about the eight Republicans who signed onto the awful Red Flag bill prior to the 2019 Legislative Session— including Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner?
I readily admit that elected officials — and even members of the party — will have differing views from time to time in terms of the platform and resolutions. I totally get that. It’s to be expected. But by and large, wouldn’t you expect Republicans to act… well… Republican? I guess not. No, apparently all you need to be a Republican in North Dakota is an “R” next to your name. That’s it. Nothing else really matters.
Indeed, the NDGOP is a party with a platform that means nothing.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!
As a side note, I should mention that State Chairman Rick Berg was re-elected without any opposition. But longtime 1st Vice Chair Jim Poolman — husband to former Lt. Governor’s candidate and current State Senator Nicole Poolman (R – District 7) — stepped down. His vacancy was filled when “Mister 1,237” and current District 45 Chairman John Trandem beat out District 31 Chairman Perrie Schafer. In case you’ve forgotten, the Mister 1,237 reference is from the 2016 Presidential Primary Season when Trandem put Donald Trump over the top by giving him enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination with 1,237 delegates.
As to the other three proposals mentioned in the previous article, Jared Hendrix’s proposal to add the State Chairman of the Young Republicans of North Dakota and the State Chairman of the North Dakota College Republicans to the NDGOP State Committee was successful. According to our sources, it was amended to include language requiring that both be qualified electors in the State of North Dakota. This became an issue because it is possible for college students to end up serving as chairmen of these organizations without being a resident.
District 46 Chairman Mark Thelen’s proposals did not pass. The one that would have required State Endorsing Conventions to end more than seven days prior to the filing deadline for candidates wishing to participate in primary elections was tabled. The other requiring candidates participating in State Endorsement Conventions to sign a pledge to honor the results of that convention wasn’t taken up.