Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Back when politics was fun...

Posted 12/30/19 (Mon)

As we go into the new year, we are reminded every day on the news there is a general election that will take place in November.

The process is a mess. It has become so partisan that people ignore what’s best for their nation and focus on appeasing their particular party.

That has led to arguments and friendships being dissolved.

• As a journalist, politics is part of my job and always has been. The other day I was going through some old newspapers from 2000 and found the Minot Daily News from election night declaring Al Gore as the new president.

That was printed at 11 p.m. Two hours later, a new edition came out saying George Bush was the new president.

That night was the only time in my career that I actually saw an editor, Bryan Obenchain, get up from his desk, run to the back of the building yelling “stop the presses” just like in the movies.

The press had run about 10,000 copies when we all realized Bush would win with the end result.

So, I have both those newspapers from the same night, Gore wins, then two hours later Bush wins.

• There was another political anomoly that was before my time, but I’ve seen pictures of it many times. It was the “Dewey defeats Truman” headline in the Chicago Tribune from the 1948 election.

• As a college journalist, I got to know Lloyd Omdahl, mostly through his daughter, Nancy, who I worked with at the campus newspaper at UND.

Lloyd was the lieutenant governor at the time and I had the pleasure of having dinner with him one night in Grand Forks.

It didn’t matter which political party he was affiliated with as far as I was concerned, rather he was a high level official and that was important to a college reporter.

Lloyd’s a Democrat, but he’s also a nice guy and a brilliant political science professor and I liked Nancy, she was a good leader (editor) so she must have been taught well growing up.

• A similar situation happened in college, but it was in Bismarck, not Grand Forks.

Layton Freborg was the chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party when I was in college. One day he dropped by the campus in an effort to recruit us to be college Republicans.

Layton bought lunch for myself and a couple of my friends from the college newspaper and gave us his pitch.

There wasn’t any pressure to join, he was only informing us of the organization and we could make up our own minds.

• Back in the ‘70s, TV reporting on election night was about the facts; Jimmy Carter got X amount of votes and Gerald Ford got this many votes. That means Jimmy Carter’s the winner.

There wasn’t any bickering back and forth about who the better candidate was, or that Carter was evil because he’s a Democrat or that Ford was an idiot because he was clumsy.

Ford was a Republican who knew it was all in fun. He took the ribbing and enjoyed the humor.

• Since then, a serious disconnect has been developing and it has gotten progressively worse in the past 30 years.

That was about the time that cable TV was on the rise, giving way to politically biased reporting and editorializing. That’s also about the same time that politically charged talk radio began springing up.

It’s become so bad, it’s almost like a war fought without weapons. Whatever happened to the inspiration of Kennedy’s speech about going to the moon? He was a Democrat, and his words energized the entire nation.

Nixon, a Republican, got us out of Vietnam after 12 years. And even though he resigned because of Watergate, he did the nation a big favor. Otherwise more troops would have died.

• There was a time shortly after World War I when there was a communist uprising in the United States. It was a real scare because communists were getting elected to posts all across the country.

Now that may have been real evil because we all know about communism and its effect.

•There was also the socialist movement in North Dakota. Everybody talks so highly of the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Mill & Elevator, yet they fail to connect that it was a socialist government that created two of the best things that ever happened to this state.

Politics isn’t fun anymore. Journalism isn’t fun anymore because of politics. What we really need is a strong third party to bring the science of politics back into perspective.