Rep. Ruth Buffalo is a Democrat from Fargo who serves in the North Dakota State Assembly. Despite being not even halfway through her first term in office, with just a few relatively modest legislative accomplishments under her belt, left wing activists in the state have sought to elevate her into some sort of a political star.
Which I understand. Democrats just haven’t elected many people to public office in North Dakota, and those few who do hold office tend to adopt a relatively moderate stance as compared to their political party’s left wing base.
If you’re a hard left progressive looking for a North Dakota politician to idolize, the pickings are pretty slim.
That’s why, I suppose, when I criticized Rep. Buffalo for refusing to answer questions about what sort of remuneration she may have received for speaking at a star-studded event hosted in Tennessee by a left wing group active in North Dakota politics I got a wave of criticism.
Buffalo is the North Dakota left’s darling, and how dare anyone suggest she have to answer the sort of routine inquiries any politician might get from a member of the news media?
What’s remarkable is how sustained that anger has been. For example, in the Fargo Forum today is a letter from a man named Barry Nelson who says a white man like me has no right to question someone like Buffalo (or Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, for that matter):
Well, as one privileged, white male to another, I have one word of advice: stand down…and listen. We have no standing in this debate. We have no standing to cast accusations upon those whose life experiences reflect the many historical injustices perpetrated by us. Injustices that tragically are ongoing.
Speak away, Rep. Omar; speak your own truth to power, Rep. Ruth Buffalo. And to the likes of Chris Berg and Rob Port: Back off. You have no standing here.
This is remarkably stupid.
It’s insulting to the women Mr. Nelson supposes he’s supporting. Are they babes in the wood in need of protection from the sort of scrutiny and criticism politicians of all races and genders receive? Is Rep. Buffalo, specifically, so weak of character she can’t be accountable for her actions as an elected leader?
Maybe she is. She certainly isn’t willing to take my questions, fleeing before them into the comfortable and credulous arms of local left wing media, a turn of events which suggests she may not be fit to hold elected office in the first place.
But none of this has anything to do with Rep. Buffalo’s skin color or gender.
Buffalo chose to travel to a left wing event in Tennessee. Via email I politely asked some pertinent and appropriate questions about what the fiscal relationship was between herself and the group putting on the event. She refused to respond to me, instead complaining about the questions to a sympathetic left wing writer who was unlikely to ask her any tough questions.
It doesn’t matter that Buffalo is a woman. Or that she’s a Native American. Or that she’s a left wing Democrat, and a member of the Democratic Socialists.
She’s a politician. She holds elected office. She should be accountable.
What’s troubling is how many people, like Nelson, seem to think that politicians like Buffalo are somehow beyond criticism and accountability because of her skin color and gender.
How about anyone, of any skin color or gender, can question any politician they want? Because public servants serve the public. All members of the public.
I would never tell Rep. Buffalo that she couldn’t question certain people, or couldn’t speak out on certain issues, because of her race or gender.
I just wish Buffalo and her supporters felt the same way.