MINOT, N.D. — For a particular faction of Republicans, crude, boorish, and even downright violent behavior has become something not to condemn but to champion — as long as the crude, boorish, and even violent behavior is directed at the right people.
This is to say, anyone out of step with whatever idée fixe the populist right is obsessing about in a given moment.
The Jan. 6 rioters have become something akin to folk heroes. Donald Trump — venal, fatuous, and mendacious as he is — is their mascot. And it’s not just a national attitude. It permeates local politics, too.
Legislative District 2, ensconced in the northwest corner of the state, north of Williston and encompassing Tioga, is perhaps the epicenter of the civil war in the North Dakota Republican Party.
The local NDGOP chapter there has been taken over by an extremist group calling itself the Sons of Liberty, which has been criticized by the editor of the Tioga Tribune for their use of violent rhetoric . When failed U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker campaigned there last year and called for mass arrests in Washington, D.C., he wasn’t intemperate enough for his audience.
He faced jeers from the crowd, who demanded executions instead.
The District 2 NDGOP, which, despite mainly covering rural areas, sent the largest contingent of delegates to the party’s state convention last year, just held its meeting reorganizing for the coming election cycle. They chose, as their new chairman, Jerol Gohrick, one of the founders of the Sons of Liberty , who made regional headlines when he threatened the Grand Forks City Council with violence amid the debate over the now-defunct Fufeng corn milling plant .