From The Left: Messages From The Election


Well, the election is over, and now we know who will be governing us in Washington for the last two years of President Obama’s term and who will be serving us in Bismarck come January.  The North Dakota voters have also spoken on eight amendments and initiatives. Like many people over the next few weeks, I thought I would take a crack at some post election analysis of the issues I find most important.

  • The Defeat of Measure 1: Measure 1 (M1) was the so called “Right to Life” amendment. This Amendment was a cookie cutter “Personhood Amendment” that was pushed by national anti-abortion activists on North Dakota. As I wrote in the weeks leading up to the vote, I was undecided on this issue for a long time. However, by the time the election came around, I had lost any trust in the supporters of the bill, and honestly I was not sure what the purpose of the amendment was. We were told by M1 supporters that the bill would not make abortion illegal, would not affect end of life issues, would not affect IVF, and would not affect birth control. The supporters of the bill went so far as to release a memo stating that the bill was not a “personhood amendment”.

We were told that the amendment was needed because there was a possible future activist judge who may make abortions easier to get, and we needed a constitutional amendment to stop this possibility.

However, even though I am pro-life, I really felt the intention of M1 was to create an amendment that would allow for an activist right wing judge to limit abortions, to limit birth control, to stop IVF, and to limit end of life options. In fact when the personhood bill passed the Senate last year, Sen. Margaret Sitte said “We are intending that it be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, since Scalia said that the Supreme Court is waiting for states to raise a case.”

The bottom line is that M1 was a “Personhood Amendment” and it was an effort to end abortion.  Those who claimed otherwise in the weeks leading up to the vote were being dishonest to the voters, and the voters punished them and their movement because of their dishonesty.  If the Pro-life movement is ever going to recover in North Dakota, it is going to need new leadership and a new approach.

  • The Defeats of Sen. Margaret Sitteand Rep. Bette Grande: The defeat of these two social conservative stalwarts is a sign of hope for North Dakota Dem-NPL that really need some hope (more on that later).  I think Pamela Anderson and Erin Oban ran their campaigns in a way more Democrats need to do. First off, both were skilled campaigners who were able to run effective campaigns. Second, they were able to effectively define themselves and not allow their Republican opponents to define them, and finally, they exposed their opponent’s extreme positions and voting records.

I know everybody likes to pretend that they dislike negative campaigning; however, trying to be nice at the cost of not exposing your opponent harms our system.
With all that being said, you cannot run an effective campaign without a bunch of money.  Fundraising for 2016 must start now.

  • Dem-NPL Swept in Statewide Races: You think I would be used to this by now, however to be honest, this one hurts a little bit. I am spitting mad that the Dem-NPL candidates could not run effective campaigns against flawed candidates like Kevin Cramer, Ryan Rauschenberger and Doug Goehring. This ineptitude year after year has destroyed the ability of the party to raise money and to attract candidates. I remember talking to a current North Dakota State Senator a few years back about what made him decide to run for office. He said that he had been a community leader for many years but had always considered himself to be an independent voter. He told me he was approached by both the Dem-NPL and the GOP about running for State senate.  He chose to run as a Republican, because he wanted to win. (Don’t worry Republicans, he has proven to be a consistent conservative vote.)

Why would anybody who actually has the skills to win from the Dem-NPL side want to associate themselves with this mess of a party?

The voters have spoken in North Dakota.  However, the message they told us should not fall on deaf ears. We need new leadership in the Pro-life movement, we need to learn from Pamela Anderson and Erin Oban on how to win state legislative races, and we need a new direction on the state party level.