Bismarck Associated Press reporter James MacPherson posted on Twitter earlier today that Democrat legislators were wearing pins bearing the image of former North Dakota Governor Art Link (who passed away back in 2010):
North Dakota Democrats have donned lapel pins with an image of Arthur Link, longtime politician known for environmental stewardship.
— James MacPherson (@MacPhersonJA) April 16, 2013
The Democrats were no doubt intending to make an environmental statement on a day when the legislature was considering vote on conservation issues, but a careful observer might see a different meaning.
Because something else happened today. Current Governor Jack Dalrymple signed into law the last of four major pro-life bills passed by the legislature this session. The passage of those bills into law has caused outrage among a vocal minority of abortion proponents in the state, whose activism has been well-covered by a sympathetic media.
But the Art Link pins are a reminder that North Dakota is very much a pro-life state. Link himself was pro-life, as a former legislator reminded me recently, and it’s worth remembering that every single pro-life bill passed by the state legislature did so with wide and bi-partisan majorities.
Democrats invoke Art Link as a way of reminding themselves of a past when voters had made them relevant to the state’s governing process. What it reminds me of is the sharp left-hand turn Democrats have taken, leading them to a point where they hold not a single executive branch elected office and tiny minorities in both houses of the legislature.
The Democrats are quick to tout Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s victory in the last election cycle, and while her defeat of Rick Berg was a stinging one for Republicans let’s remember that she barely held on to a seat the Democrats have owned for going on 53 by less than one percent of the vote.
And her marginal victory was the Dems’ only victory on the statewide ballot.
It is the epitome of irony for Democrats to invoke someone who represents a far more moderate version of their party. One that had a message far more palatable to North Dakota voters.