That was the headline over a recent Vice article by former Grand Forks Herald reporter Sam Easter. Given his background covering the state, Easter chose to explore an answer to that question by focusing on Democrats in North Dakota. And conclusion of the article seems to be that Democrats in this very rural, very Republican state are mostly hampered by how far to the left their national party has moved.
Which is true, as far as it goes, though it’s not exactly some new revelation. That the Democratic party, nationally, has come to mostly represent urban and coastal interests, and is very often hostile to the interests of “fly over country,” is pretty clear.
But I wouldn’t put all of the woes of the North Dakota iteration of the Democratic party in that basket. A lot of why Democrats can’t get traction in North Dakota is because, despite some efforts to brand themselves differently, they aren’t really all that different.
Case in point Rep. Mary Adams, a Democrat from District 43 (Grand Forks), is currently serving in her first legislative session. She’s also very active on social media. She loves a good meme comparing President Donald Trump to Hitler:
When a Republican state lawmaker posted a meme on Facebook displaying a swastika on a gay pride flag it made statewide news. I suspect Rep. Adams’ adventures with memes won’t get the same attention because…it’s different when Democrats do it? UPDATE: Rep. Adams has been asked about the posts, and she says she won’t comment on the advice of her husband.
But there was another of her Facebook posts which caught my eye as representative of an attitude that’s hurting Democrats in North Dakota.
Earlier today Adams made this post about Congressman Kelly Armstrong. Though she doesn’t link the article, she’s quoting from a recent CQ-Roll Call report on the members of a House committee taking up the climate change issue. Armstrong is on the committee, and Adams seems to think his background in the oil industry is disqualifying somehow:
The oil industry is hugely important to North Dakota’s economy. Most of the tax dollars being appropriated in Bismarck right now by Rep. Adams and her colleagues were either originated in the industry, or are the result of commerce driven by industry activity. It’s fitting that someone with a background in the industry would represent North Dakota in the House. What’s more, if we’re going to have a debate over climate change, why shouldn’t that debate include someone with a background in oil and gas?
Adams doesn’t seem to grasp these things. That’s not uncommon among Democrats in North Dakota. And it’s why they hold not a single statewide elected office, and just tiny minorities in the Legislative chambers.
UPDATE: A state lawmaker sent me this: “[Rep. Adams] protested Kelly speaking to the chamber yesterday. She was going to just stay out of the chamber until he was gone but Boschee wouldn’t allow it because it was disrespectful to the office. She instead was there but refused to stand or clap and was on her computer the whole time. Boschee didn’t seem happy with that.”