Plain Talk: Exorcising the crazy from the NDGOP and a conversation about school choice


MINOT, N.D. — In any sufficiently large group of people, you’re going to have some undesirables. Whether it’s a church congregation or a political party or a sports team fan base, if you look hard enough you’ll find some people who just aren’t very good people.

But what happens when a certain type of behavior becomes the defining characteristic of a group of people?

Robert Wheeler as a representative of the very Trumpy and populist Bastiat Caucus faction of North Dakota Republicans, ran for chairman of the NDGOP last year. This week he was involved in what law enforcement alleges was a felony DUI accident, severely injuring his wife. He is also facing charges for disorderly conduct and preventing arrest because officers say he physically resisted them when they tried to arrest him.

If these charges are upheld — Mr. Wheeler certainly has a right to his day in court — they’re just the latest examples of problematic behavior from people in the Bastiat Caucus movement.

Sen. Jason Heitkamp showed up to the special session of the state legislature in a truck with the words “f— Joe Biden” on them . Prior to that, he was fond of calling for former President Barack Obama to be lynched .

Former Rep. Luke Simons was expelled from last year’s regular session over accusations of sexual harassment. His local party district chairman, who has since been ousted from that position , decried the expulsion as an “atrocity.”

Rep. Jeff Hoverson insulted his own majority leader during the special session, and prior to that was barred from a flight after getting into an altercation with a security agent.

Rep. Jeff Magrum, who after redistricting will be seeking the District 8 Senate seat in the current election cycle, got so angry with a fellow lawmaker at a public meeting that law enforcement had to intervene and tell him to settle down .

Jay Lundeen, a NDGOP chairman from the Minot area who has emerged as a Bastiat leader, could be seen shouting in the face of Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner during the special session.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the point.

It’s a common political tactic, and an unfair one, to try and discredit a group of people by focusing on the behavior of a few fringe elements of that group.

But how about when a certain type of unacceptable behavior becomes de rigueur for the group?

In this episode of Plain Talk, Chad Oban and I talk about how the North Dakota Republican Party is dealing with that very problem, where a not-small faction of its members regularly participates in behavior that’s simply unacceptable.

Also on this episode, Dr. Jeremy Jackson, a professor of economics at North Dakota State University, talks about school choice policies, which he argued for in a recent letter to the editor.

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