Valeu: Republicans’ rhetoric doesn’t match its actions
By Bob Valeu
Actions do speak louder than words. This standard can be applied to individuals and to political parties. In the case of the North Dakota Republican Party, its actions paint an ugly picture and its party chairman’s Oct. 25 editorial is a prime example of the party’s effort to hide the unpleasant truth.
So let’s take a look at the Republican record in Washington and here in North Dakota.
Try as they might, the Republicans own the government shutdown. They own it because U.S. House Republicans continue to adhere to the “Hastert Rule” that demands that no bill be brought to the House floor without the support of a majority of the majority party. Because of this recklessly partisan rule, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer and his fellow Tea Party Republicans were able to shut down the government, a shutdown that took $24 billion out of the national economy.
Cramer and his fellow Tea Party Republicans also used the Hastert Rule to torpedo bipartisan efforts at passing a new federal farm bill.
We’ve had a 40-plus year bipartisan consensus on farm policy where rural economic interests are married to urban nutritional needs. Tea Party Republicans killed this consensus when they stripped nutritional supports from the farm bill. America is an urban nation, so if this consensus is replaced by competition between urban and rural political interests, then rural interests will always lose.
There was also a consensus in the North Dakota Legislature that all bills be judged on their merits. The Republican supermajority, led by Fargo Rep. Al Carlson, killed this consensus.
They openly bragged that any bill sponsored by a state Democratic legislator would not be passed. Throughout the session, Republican legislators were even heard to say, “Too bad the bill is sponsored by a Democrat.” As a result, many sensible proposals were defeated.
Carlson’s Republican supermajority also ended the decades-long bipartisan practice of appointing members of the other party to serve as chairs and vice-chairs of interim legislative committees.
The Republican supermajority’s action silences the voices of legislators who represent the interests of thousands of North Dakotans. In its June 12 editorial, The Forum newspaper condemned this action, stating:
“The stunt not only is an arrogant misuse of majority power, it’s also counterproductive. … What makes the Republican power play even more objectionable is that the work of the interim should be — and has been — bipartisan or nonpartisan. … Until the Carlson changes, it’s been a good process that has been fair to the minority, rather than closed to proposals and initiatives that don’t conform to the majority’s agenda. ... Instead of being gracious and statesman like, the Legislature’s majority party leaders have happily embraced the unattractive role of bully.”
So much for bipartisanship in the U.S. House and in the North Dakota Legislature.
It’s now up to North Dakota voters to send a representative to Washington who will champion common sense and to elect legislators who will restore balance to state government.
This is what the 2014 election is all about.
Valeu is the North Dakota Democratic Party chairman.