You Deny Women Agency by Carrying on as Though They Can’t Be Criticized

Dina Butcher, left, hands North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger a proposed petition for a ballot measure to add anti-corruption policies to the state constitution Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 at the state Capitol in Bismarck. John Hageman / Forum News Service

“In a blog post published Jan. 29, Rob Port attributes no agency to Dina Butcher because she is a non-polarized Republican who willingly interacts with, and occasionally supports, other individuals who are not Republicans,” Ellie Shockley (apropos of nothing, a member of Governor Doug Burgum’s higher education governance task force). “Allegedly this means she is passively ‘used’ by the Democratic Party.”

Shockley is upset because I pointed out in my blog post that Butcher, a co-chair of that recently-announced ethics ballot measure, has been involved in Republican politics in the past but in more recent years has been more supportive of Democrats and left wing causes.

I thought it fair to point out that the “Republican” they’re resting that bipartisanship claim on spends most her political energy these days being critical of Republicans and trying to defeat them at the ballot box.

In the 2014 cycle, for instance, Butcher was involved the state Senate campaign of Bismarck area Democrat Erin Oban, making a financial donation. She also donated money to the campaign of Democrat Pamela Anderson’s for a Fargo area House seat and supported left wing politics generally by giving money to Democratic campaign finance bundler Act Blue.

The proponents of the ethics ballot measure are working hard to brand themselves as bipartisan. The perception of involvement from Republicans will help them market their cause in a state dominated by Republican politics, obviously.

I thought it fair to point out that the “Republican” they’re resting that bipartisanship claim on spends most her political energy these days being critical of Republicans and trying to defeat them at the ballot box.

I’m not sure how that denies Butcher agency.

Certainly my point of view on this matter can be disagreed with. I think my criticism is apt, but the mileage others get may vary. I’m not saying Butcher can’t be involved in whatever political endeavor she wants. I’m simply revealing, for the public, more about a person who will be making a very high profile argument for what is a controversial policy proposal.

What does deny Butcher agency, not to mention women in general, is setting them up as though they’re victimized simply because they’re criticized.

Dina Butcher has been involved in politics longer than I’ve been alive. To carry on as though she can’t stand up under a bit of scrutiny from the big, bad blogger is a belittling sort of argument.

I’m not scrutinizing Butcher because she is a woman. I scrutinizing her because she has chosen to involve herself in a high profile political campaign, and her actions in recent years don’t quite match up with the way she’s branding herself.

CORRECTION: This post originally described Butcher as appearing in a television ad for Democratic state Senator Erin Oban. That was a mistake. I misidentified someone else as Butcher in the ad. Oban corrected me on Twitter:


I’ve edited this post to remove the mistake.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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