John Andrist: Voters Taking Charge Everywhere


I Voted stickers await voters at Grand Forks polling sites Tuesday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Voters are taking charge of things, all over the world.

To the world of 1700 it would have been an impossible dream. In the world of 2000, however, we aren’t so sure.

It is no secret that established Republican leaders did not want an outrageous Donald Trump. It is almost as certain that Democratic party leaders would never have chosen as their first female presidential candidate a liar beyond measure.

But those are the choices given to us by voters themselves through the presidential primary system.

Even in North Dakota few government stakeholders could have imagined a better candidate for governor that Wayne Stenehjem. But the voters didn’t agree.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…voters themselves seem to hate compromise when they cast their ballots. Their ballots are printed in black and white.[/mks_pullquote]

Across the Atlantic virtually all of the establishment spoke as one voice on maintaining Britain’s role in the European Union. But they couldn’t convince their voters.

So what’s up? People in the real world of governing understand that political principle is a commodity in which they must trade. It’s called compromise.

But voters themselves seem to hate compromise when they cast their ballots. Their ballots are printed in black and white.

It matters not whether our new system is good or bad. Suffice to say, it is what it is. We won’t know how smart we were until well after November, when our chickens begin to roost.

And the Brits simply must wait to see how things shake out in Europe.

And North Dakotans are simply going to have to wait to see if the good times in the past quarter century are going to get even better or begin to fade.

Some surprise, but not much

Few of the pros expected Hillary would ever be charged with a crime.

Presidents are pretty well shielded from that kind of stuff, because they get to pick their own shield, from the attorney general, the director of the FBI, and the top military leaders.

There’s a lot of insulation when you live in D.C., where one out of every 12 residents is a lawyer, a good many of whom have been chosen by the president’s entourage.

It’s interesting, I think, that those who support her have been given a great amount of fodder for their defense of her virtues. And those who oppose her would never have been satisfied with anything less than a noose.

But I suspect there is still a significant constituency pleading for, “Please God! Anybody but these two.”

Is there any chance the conventions may yet find a way to spurn the voters? There is an interesting court challenge under way in which a delegate is claiming states have no legal right to bind their delegates to the action of a political party, which after all is a private entity.

We’ll know in a couple weeks. Meanwhile I’m still in the political camp saying “Please! Anybody but Donald or Hillary.

Accolades for Kathleen

Here in Fargo there is a pretty sobering reaction to the State Board of Higher Education action to postpone renewing the contract of NDSU President Dean Bresciani.

The Forum continues to be an apolgist for Bresciani. For them Dean can simply do no wrong as long as he serves Fargo.

But even the UND community, including the Forum-owned Grand Forks Herald, have been more pragmatic.

They’ve made it pretty clear that Bresciani must become a collaborative leader if he wants to stay.

If we are finally able to secure an orderly top-down system, which the legislature has been seeking for the past 25 years, we can thank Tioga’s Kathy Neset, president of the SBHE, whose leadership has been central in making NDSU not only a great university, but at the same time a collaborative member of the system.

She has achieved what prior SBHE boards and the legislature have never been able to do.

Makes me particularly proud because she comes from one of my towns.

An executive order?

I’m not one to quibble about sports logos and license plate designs.

But by now there are legions of us complaining that the new North Dakota license plate design makes the words “North Dakota” virtually illegible from a distance greater than 25 feet.

How about an executive order from the governor to simply change the type face on those two words — just for all of us who are really proud to live in this state?