North Dakota needs a better party.

Watching the once-great Democratic–Nonpartisan League in North Dakota drip away into absolute irrelevancy, like a bloody tear trickling down a bruised cheek, has been painful. It’s time to end the suffering.

In the 2022 election, the Dem-NPL reportedly lost three seats in the N.D. House and two in the N.D. Senate. In the next session, Democrats will occupy just 16 seats in the Legislature, compared to 125 for the Republicans. Prior to Tuesday, the Dem-NPL made up only 15 percent of the two bodies; now it’s less than 11 percent. That’s on top of the fact that the Dem-NPL hasn’t sniffed a statewide or national office for a long time, with one exception who, the way I see it, would have been a Republican in any other state, anyway.

The headline in the newspaper of the state’s largest city, Fargo, nailed it:

“GOP grows supermajority in North Dakota; Dems have ‘collapsed completely'”

I’ve been saying it for years, always partially in jest, but now it’s the only view that makes any sense – the Dem-NPL should cash it in. Let the GOP have the whole damn shootin’ match for a while, see how North Dakota voters like it.

In the meantime, the Dem-NPL needs a serious come-to-Jesus. I’m not talking about a moment here, but a serious long-term re-evaluation and overhaul.

If you want people to vote for your candidates you need to offer distinct alternatives to the other side, in people, platform and policy. Otherwise, why would anyone vote for you? If they want a Republican they’ll vote for the Republican candidate, not a Democrat who’s just a little bit less of a Republican than the genuine article. Behaving, strategizing and voting in a Republican-lite manner, as the Dem-NPL has for years, is a losing proposition. CLEARLY.

When what you’ve been doing does not work, you have to change course, do something else. Because doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? That’s insanity.

It gives me no pleasure to say this, in earnest this time

I grew up in a strong Dem-NPL home. I’ve voted in every single election since I turned 18 and, until recently, always voted a straight Democratic ticket. I say “until recently” because I no longer believe Democrats, especially North Dakota Democrats, do a good job of representing my interests. I’m now an Independent Progressive. I’ll never vote Republican, but I won’t vote for Republican-lite Democrats, either.

I understand hitting “Publish” on this post is not likely to attract any new friends, and I’ll probably lose the goodwill of several acquaintances. So it goes with things that need to be said and the people who say them.

That said, comments to this post, as with any other – good, bad and profane – are welcome. Let ’em rain down. But I’ll say this in advance: you can stick your “yeahbuts” in a sack. There isn’t a “Yeah, but…” in the universe that can adequately explain away or justify the Dem-NPL’s impotence.

So, what’s the alternative? I’d like to see an entirely different, brand-new party rise, with new leaders, a truly differentiated vision and the fortitude to stand up and fight tooth and nail for it.

It’s what North Dakota needs.

In the meantime, the Dem-NPL can continue limping along or fold; at this point it makes no difference either way.

That’s irrelevancy for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Good article. I recall preaching (?) to some folks ‘way back in 1975 about how voters are not interested in Republican-lite on the part of Democrats when there is choice of the real thing.. Vague memories of sitting on a picnic table in Woodlawn Park in Moorhead watching some goings-on with Lucy Calluti and another mutual friend, probably when she was still a student. I think some beer was involved. Octogenarian, I am now. I was very involved in MN DFL politics, delegate to state conventions several times. Now live in West Fargo. ND once had reasonable legislators. May be will again.

    Keep up the good works. Juneve

    1. Juneve: It appears some things never change, but they do improve or get worse. In this case, in my judgement, it’s gotten worse. Much worse. Thank you for your comments. BTW, Lucy Calautti was my boss (one of many bosses, actually) when I was a Congressional staffer a gazillion years ago. All the best, Martin

  2. * * * I’d like to see a brand-new party rise, with new leaders,
    a truly differentiated vision and the fortitude to stand up
    and fight tooth and nail for it. * * *
    ————-
    Not only in North Dakota, but in the country as a whole. With a bit of luck, the GQP becomes of no account and we get a new party: a much more left party because the current Democratic Party has drifted way too far to the right. Check out “Overton Window” to see what i’m saying. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window ]

    My personal take is we already have the makings of that “left” party and they’re called “progressives.” In that vein, thom hartmann posted an article with application to this: “Has the Fourth Turning Begun” [ https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/11/10/2135066/-Has-the-Fourth-Turning-Begun ] It’s not a new idea, but his article is well written.

    I, too, have only voted for Democrats since i started paying attention to our government and the politics, at all levels. Maybe it’s more like i’ve been voting against Republicans since i’ve not seen any of them i want to have them think they’re even slightly qualified to be my leader.
    Anyway, you’re not alone. Step by step, keep trying.

Let me know what you think!