TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
Saturday evening’s statewide debate provided the voters of North Dakota a better opportunity to look at the men and women who are asking to represent them in the US House, the Senate and as Governor. We should give all of these dedicated people who showed up our greatest respect, for whether we agree with all of their ideas or not, they have demonstrated their respect for and confidence in free people to make an informed choice.
The full contingent of Republican hopefuls for the House was on deck and ready to discuss their views and hear each other’s. It was a worthy group of serious-minded candidates who earnestly desired to communicate with the people they wished to serve. Of that group, however, it was Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer who distinguished himself with his independence and thoughtfulness.
When the “herd mentality” telegraphed that it would be easy to score with the mantra of “term limits”, everyone else bought a ticket on that bus but Cramer. He paused to give it some deeper thought, and told us that while he would impose a limit of eight years on himself in that office, should he win, he found the prospect of term limits “dicey”. He cut through the fog to remind us that a limit does not grant freedom but restrains or removes freedom from the people. He clearly understands that the people have only to go to the polls and vote for a replacement if they are unhappy. He noted that Congressmen are limited to two years and must then be renewed. It is the freedom of the people, the voters, that would be lost through the device of term limits. And, of course, bureaucrats would win in that their role would expand - and what is it they want? Bigger government.
On the matter of campaign contributions, once again, Cramer asserted the Constitution and its First Amendment in his argument that we have no business to deny the right to contribute to a candidate or party. On the pragmatic side, he pointed out that if you put up a fence, donors will just find other ways to get the money to their causes regardless, through individuals, etc., - with an aside that it is often those who are unable to raise enough money who wish to restrict contributions to the campaigns of others. He quite rightly did, however, stipulate that there must be transparency. With transparency there really is no unfair advantage – if we know that George Soros, say, contributes to Candidate X we also know that this is in some way an advantage to Soros. So if we don’t think helping Soros is a good idea we can consider that in our own decisions. We might have wished that someone would have given a moment to observe that if we take away corporate contributions and PACs from Conservative candidates, we would leave Democrats and Socialists with the virtually unlimited and unregulated financial support of the unions. By defining his views in his own terms Cramer clearly sets himself apart from the crowd of other conservatives vying for the nomination, at a time when most of our problems in government seem to come from “team players”, and reinforces Cramer's position.
The other two debates were disappointing only in that with only one candidate in each, “debate” as a description of the event was inaccurate. Rick Berg blew off the debate with Conservative Duane Sand, which was too bad, because with the record of spending and other policy decisions of the past term, his only one in Congress, it would have provided an opportunity to tell us his reasons and get us on board with his program. Who knows? He might have been convincing and we might have decided he was right. But that didn’t happen. What did happen was that we had an opportunity to see what Sand has in mind, what his experience and training can bring us in a Senator and above all, that he is willing and unafraid to meet and discuss his positions with all comers in an open public debate. We also learned that Berg is not.
Another AWOL candidate was the bodacious Jack Dalrymple, who is asking (or, rather, telling) us to support him. Perhaps he feels that the nomination for Governor is already his because he has been in position to take advantage of the perks of incumbency, while not having achieved them in the usual way – through election to that office. Whatever his reasons, his arrogance in not showing up to debate his opponent reeks. Not only has he ignored Paul Sorum, the Conservative candidate for office, but also the voters and delegates in this latest act of presumptuousness. This facet of Dalrymple’s campaign was reflected this week in the revelation that a state convention “Governor’s Dinner”, touted as an official event for attendees, is, in fact, a fundraiser for Citizen Dalrymple’s campaign against opponent Paul Sorum! This subterfuge, like some other irregularities in the process this year serve to point up the need for a good housecleaning within the ND GOP itself. (It also tends to vindicate Cramer's decision to skip the convention process this year.)
Suffice it to say that Dalrymple’s no-show slight was offset by a great opportunity to hear Paul Sorum’s vision for the future of the State of North Dakota, the experience he brings as a small business owner, contractor, and designer and even educator. He clearly has thought about this as a job, one to which he owes his attention and one which he wishes to earn through the confidence and participation of the voters, the people themselves. His insight into the problems of water management, construction and land development, the importance of control by the private sector, his opposition to the cronyism that undercuts vital private enterprise, his understanding of the challenges facing higher education and his dedication to a pro-life climate and preservation of quality of life were only augmented this weekend by his reiteration of his view that the Sioux nickname has been a symbol of pride and is supported by “the Sioux nations and the good people of the State of North Dakota” and his belief that we don’t need outside “associations” or “agencies” to regulate our own pacts. Paul Sorum came off of this “debate” as a very serious, focused, courageous fighter for the State and its rights and one who realizes that “when government grows, everything else shrinks”, someone who has a profound understanding and appreciation of the values established by our Constitution. We could hardly do better.
The big winners of Saturday’s Great Statewide Debate are Cramer, for his independent and confident assertion of Constitutional values and Sand and Sorum for being there, trusting the people enough to put their case before them - and their grace in showing North Dakotans the respect they deserve, even if the other two candidates did not. If for no other reason, we must be grateful to the North Dakota Tea Party Caucus for presenting this forum.