There’s Personal Responsibility, and Then There’s Obstinance

Opponents of a mask mandate demonstrate in front of City and County Office Building in Bismarck. The Bismarck City Commission voted to implement a local mask mandate, joining many of North Dakota's larger cities. Kyle Martin / The Forum

MINOT, N.D. — What first attracted me, as a young man, to a generally conservative ideology was the notion of personal responsibility.

The idea that overweening, busybody government wasn’t necessary because we are pretty damn good at taking care of ourselves and our communities when left to our own devices.

I still believe this to be true.

Unfortunately, in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Dakotans, a conservative lot on the whole, have given those with a left-of-center viewpoint a powerful talking point against laissez-faire governing.

Many conservatives have taken up the notion that being conservative means being obstinate.

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Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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