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

 

Non Partisan League lessons

Posted 3/21/17 (Tue)

Here in the United States we have become so divided politically, it will literally take an act of Congress to straighten it all out.

But it isn’t just the politicians in the “beltway,” it’s people in small towns and farms in the Heartland. Neighbor vs. neighbor bickering over such petty topics as taxing wind energy or should we have one license plate or two.

As we all know, there are two main political parties in the United States and this is the source of all the disagreement.

Why is this suddenly happening? The Republican and Democratic parties have been around together now for more than 150 years and both have won countless elections. Why is the other party suddenly the antichrist?

In a predominantly Republican state like North Dakota, we often hear Democrat bashing. “None of them are any good. You can’t trust them and they are screwing everything up.”

People in North Dakota may not have liked Obama, but was Kennedy or Jimmy Carter somebody the country couldn’t trust?

How about Govs. George Sinner or Art Link, would you call those Democrats the antichrist?

Do you see what I mean? Why, all of a sudden is there so much hatred toward the other party?

Do you honestly think that in a free society like the United States, we could survive with one political party? That’s outrageous because that is how the Soviet Union was founded and that’s exactly how it collapsed some 70 years later.

Something is going to have to change because we haven’t seen this kind of unrest in this country since the 1890s when a communist by the name of Eugene Debs stirred up a lot of trouble with blue collar workers.

Back then the Communist Party was a credible political party in the United States. I’m not condoning it for a minute, but when Eugene Debs got 1 million votes in 1920 and he was in prison, the Republican and Democratic parties had to take notice because Debs was siphoning their votes.

Likewise, political bullying in North Dakota is what led to the infamous Non Partisan League, a political party made up of “hog slopping” farmers that put a governor in the capitol four years after the party was formed.

North Dakota’s Republicans and Democrats were forced to recognize the NPL because this was a grass roots effort that turned on the political lifers for the good of the North Dakota farmer.

We may need something like that again in Washington and Bismarck to put all this division in check. When elected officials vote strictly for their party and not their constituents, knowing it’s wrong, something has to be changed.

We’ve seen it time and time again in recent years and the average voter is getting tired of politicians who come out of the woodwork when they need votes, then disappear for four years.

If only the Libertarian Party couldn’t have done more to shake things up last year. In some places the Libertarians made some headway but overall it wasn’t anything like Eugene Debs did in 1920.

The Non Partisan League, although not as strong as it was in the 1910s and ‘20s, stuck around a long time in North Dakota and did a lot of good for this state keeping the capitol on the straight and narrow. The NPL had elected representatives in North Dakota government until the 1950s, when it was absorbed into the Democratic Party in 1957.

If it isn’t the Libertarian Party these days, it’s going to have to be somebody we don’t know about yet who steps forward to mend these fences.

There’s never been so much animosity, divisiveness and bickering about the other guy, than there is now. Where did that come from and why, oh why, after so many voters have voiced their displeasure about all this in Washington, and in Bismarck, you’d think some of these people would get the hint. But they don’t. Many of them continue as if the voters don’t matter, until it’s time for re-election.

Non Partisan Leaguers didn’t have Facebook, but now social media is becoming nothing more than bash the other political party. It doesn’t matter how you try to rationalize with these people, it’s the other party’s fault.

The lies and deceit have to stop for the good of the United States. It’s tearing us apart and yet those who hold positions continue the stubborn party-only affiliation that anyone in their right mind can see is spiraling out of control.

Who’s going to fix it? We need a whole new generation of younger politicians who aren’t afraid to make decisions for the good of the nation, not just the political party.