MINOT, N.D. — What does it mean to be a conservative?
That’s an important question right now. Trumpism has swept through the Republican Party, upending, for good and bad, many of the traditional notions we’ve had about conservatism. Here in North Dakota, a divide in the NDGOP, which is currently playing itself out in primary contests at the state and legislative level.
On one side of that divide are pragmatic Republicans who, while conservative, temper their ideology with a sort of pragmatism that’s rooted in serving their constituents and their communities. On the other side are the far more doctrinaire Bastiat Caucus of Trumpy populists who make much ado of their consistent fidelity to ideology.
Who has the right of those? I think it’s the former group. My disdain for the Bastiat approach to politics has been pretty clear in my writing for a while. But let me give you an example, taken from recent headlines, which illustrates why I feel that way.
Jeff Magrum is a Bastiat Republican running for the state Senate in District 8. He’s one of several Bastiats who are the target of political messaging funded through independent spending. Among that messaging is criticism of Magrum for voting against the budget for the North Dakota National Guard.