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Monke: Playground-like insults pepper post-legislative dialogue

Dustin Monke

There's a schoolyard showdown happening and the battleground has been the opinion pages of this and most other newspapers in North Dakota.

On one side of the playground are the Democrats, complaining that seemingly every bill passed in the 2013 legislative session was the worst thing that ever happened in North Dakota.

Rebutting those claims and puffing their chests are Republicans, convinced that everything their supermajority did between January and May was in the best interest of North Dakotans while the Democrats are just sore losers.

Sometimes, children -- even the really big ones -- just can't get along.

Politics seems a lot like a school playground, especially in the North Dakota Legislature.

The 63rd legislative assembly ended in the wee hours of May 4. Yet as we begin June, there's still a slap fight taking place between Democrats and Republicans in editorial pages.

I understand that finger-pointing and posturing comes with the territory once one enters the world of partisan politics. However, it's time to move on.

For the most part, the Legislature accomplished what needed to be accomplished.

Money was allocated to just about every entity that needed it. Checks will be written to oil-impacted counties and cities, and for road improvements, tax relief, K-12 education, water projects, higher education, economic development, health and human services and the agricultural industry, just to name a few.

Still, some continue to throw fits in print and say their special interest didn't get enough, as if someone else got one or two more pepperonis on their slice of pizza.

Contrary to popular belief, and these are the people who should know, is that North Dakota does not have a bottomless pit of money. Even the Bakken and Three Forks have their limits, you know.

Some will say the legislators focused too much on abortion and too little on actual issues. The last time I checked, abortion is a pretty big issue. It's perhaps one of the biggest and touchiest of all social issues.

Democrats beat their heads on their desks about the Republicans' unflinching support of four anti-abortion bills, all of which passed despite huge public attention, outcry from women's rights groups and major backlash from many national media outlets.

In the end, even some Republicans felt too much time was spent on the issue, and they are right.

"It took the attention off some of the more important matters," Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said in a Forum News Service story on May 5.

But, like most things in life, everything all worked out in the end -- even if that end didn't come until 4 a.m. the day after the scheduled final day of the session.

At this point, the Democrats and Republicans are just spouting off at each other in the schoolyard. Many of the bystanders, also known as their constituents, are long since over this war of words.

It was fun while it lasted guys and gals. Now it's time to move on and focus on what needs to be fixed next time around.

After all, there are only 520 days until the next election.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press.

Email him at or tweet him at monkebusiness.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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