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


Bring back the league...

Posted 5/05/20 (Tue)

Looking through old copies of the newspaper lately, there was an entry in 1980 in which someone was trying to resurrect the Non Partisan League and a meeting was scheduled for a constitutional convention in Rugby.

If my memory is right, the Non Partisan League political party merged with the Democratic Party in 1956 and became what it is today, the Democratic-NPL Party.

Obviously that meeting in Rugby didn’t go too far in bringing back a political party that took the state by storm for six years and created the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Mill & Elevator.

Back then, in 1916, when Non Partisan Lynn Frazier was elected governor, the need was because farmers in the state felt powerless against the grain millers in Minneapolis and wanted to be able to control their own destiny.

And when farmers went to the Legislature to complain about it, they were told to “go home and slop the hogs.”

That didn’t set well for a lot of people, so they started a grassroots organization behind the leadership of A.C. Townley and ran the previous Legislature out on its ear.

North Dakota had spoken. The Non Partisan League headed the government until 1922 when things began to change once again.

Maybe somebody should try to bring back the Non Partisan League now. There are so many people who are disgusted with both major political parties and don’t know what to do.

If there was a third party that was completely different than the other two, there is no doubt it would quickly gain popularity.

The problem is leadership, or lack of it. We can bring the Non Partisan League back but we all know we can’t bring A.C. Townley or Lynn Frazier back.

There has to be leadership willing to work hard to make it succeed and to stand up against the establishment that thinks it’s invincible.

There are a lot of stories, far too many to even list in this space, but the Non Partisan League helped a lot of people while it was in existence and historians attest that the league did a good job of running state government.

Is it possible to find that magic again? North Dakota needs something to take us further into the 21st Century, just like the league did in the second decade of the last century.

This should also be going on across the nation. The United States hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War and this time it’s not about war, it’s about politics.

If there was a third party? You’re thinking there is a third party in the Libertarians. But what has that party accomplished?

When you tell somebody you don’t like Trump, they automatically assume you voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

When you tell somebody you don’t like Clinton, they automatically assume you voted for Trump.

Some of us voted for Gary Johnson, but most people just can’t seem to grasp onto that.

And it’s too bad. Johnson had North Dakota ties, he made New Mexico fiscally responsible as governor and he was very popular while he was governor in Santa Fe.

It’s unfortunate Johnson didn’t get more votes in 2016, which brings me back to the two parties.

It seems like there has been nothing but complaining about the other party, but those complainers don’t even acknowledge the Libertarian Party.

Perhaps a Non Partisan League could shake things up a bit like it did 100 years ago. There has to be some kind of spark to get us back on the track this nation should be on.

A third-party candidate has never won a U.S. presidential election. Someone as popular as Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t do it in 1912, nor could rich man Ross Perot in 1988.

What a third party can do is keep two main parties honest. We see it all the time in Canada with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP. They get seats in Parliament and have to be officially recognized.

That should happen in North Dakota and in the United States government. It never hurts to have more than two choices, especially when you’re completely disgusted with the other two choices.

Bring back the Non Partisan League! One-hundred years ago, Townley made calls to farms all across the state. Today, the Internet can move a lot faster than Townley’s Model T.

It doesn’t hurt to have a third opinion. Otherwise we see our democracy begin to wane.