Rick Becker addresses Dickinson conservatives ahead of GOP convention

Days before the North Dakota Republican Party hosts their biennial GOP convention, Rep. Rick Becker visited the Western Edge to address a meeting of the Southwest Patriots Coalition about his Senate race against incumbent Sen. John Hoeven.

Rick Becker
U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, speaks during a meeting of the Southwest Patriot's Coalition at St. Anthony's Club in Dickinson on Wednesday.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — The Southwest Patriots’ Coalition, a conservative political group based in Dickinson, held a meeting Wednesday evening at St. Anthony Hall. The event gathered a large turnout, with about 70 to 80 people present. U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, led the event as the guest speaker.

Becker said that after making the difficult choice to step down from the state Legislative Assembly at the end of this term, he felt his mission wasn’t over and that he knew running against incumbent Sen. John Hoeven would be an uphill battle. Becker noted that the conservative movement is stronger than he realized.

“I felt that I needed to do my part with the movement, the goal of making America a better place. So I decided I don’t care what the odds are, I have to make a run. I’m not happy with who is representing us,” Becker told the crowd. “I would have loved to have gotten behind someone else, but there was nobody else this time around.”

In a short speech, Becker denounced the proliferation of “cultural Marxism,” saying that he’s seen it in "ascendant left-wing initiatives" such as critical race theory. Conservatives must embrace these culture war fights to preserve American values, he said.

“We’re about to lose the heart and soul of America with all this cultural Marxism,” he said. “I’ve come to hate three letter acronyms, whether it’s IRS, CIA, FBI, CDC, ATF. It goes on and on. But also DEI: diversity, equity and inclusion, CRT: critical race theory, ESG: environmental and social governance. All of these things are changing our culture.”


Perhaps the least well-known of these three is ESG, which according to Becker embodies the notion that corporations should act in the best interests of stakeholders and not in a free market pursuit of financial gain. Many conservatives, such as Andrew Stuttaford of Nation Review, argue that ESG is a cynical ploy by CEOs to shift power to themselves and away from their shareholders. Libertarian economist Milton Friedman condemned this idea in 1970, arguing that the top priority of a business must be to increase its profits. Becker rallied the assembled crowd in echoing those sentiments, saying ESG was harming the nation's economy.

“ESG says that corporations must run with the objective of having a social good, not for profit, which those of us that understand limited government and free markets understand that profit actually is good. Profit makes a society prosperous,” he said.

Becker pointed out that financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase and Paypal have used low ESG scores to justify excluding fossil fuel producers, firearms retailers and ammunition manufacturers from getting loans or processing payments — a move the conservative speaker eluded appeared to target the modern liberal's undesirables.

“It's not much different than the Chinese social credit score. But for those of you that watch the 'Black Mirror,' you can't really do anything in society unless you have a good social score. But that's the way it already is. If you're in guns and ammunition, try getting a loan. It's very difficult. Try being in the fossil fuel industry,” he said.

Becker challenged the credibility of climate change activists and said that it was dubious to think "government policy could somehow stop the earth from warming." He also pointed to his opponent’s record on so-called green energy subsidies.

“John Hoeven is very much in favor of all this carbon dioxide capture. I hate it because being in favor of that acknowledges that you believe in global warming caused by humans that needs to be and can be taken care of adequately if the U.S. completely destroys its economy and plays this game where we put plant food underground, somehow, which is unproven. To do that, we're going to use billions and billions of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Becker asserted that Hoeven was wrong in voting for the $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed in November, arguing that 90% of the bill was "a profligate boondoggle" full of green energy subsidies.

“That's that's what we need someone who's not afraid to say no to Mitch McConnell when it comes to spending huge amounts of money,” he said.


Taxpayer funded entitlements and wealth redistribution programs were front and center of Becker's complaints with the current administration. He claimed that they were detrimental not only to those forced to pay for them, he said, but also to the supposed beneficiaries.

“Take a look at the inner city. Take a look at the (Indian) reservations. These are two areas in particular that the federal government has bestowed benefits, entitlements as you said, for decades and generations, yet they're the worst areas. They're like mini third world countries inside the most prosperous nation on earth. And it's progressive policies that did that. They cause dependency,” Becker said.

Highlighting his concern with "entitlements" and their effect on society, Becker said that he held great sympathy for the plight of Native Americans. Becker pointed to the federal government systems imposed upon Native Americans, noting that they have resulted in perpetual despair.

“I’m German-Russian, I take a little pride in that. Besides being somewhat unemotional, we’re at least known as being industrious. But if you put German-Russians into a reservation and provided all the programs that we've been providing, my belief is you will see the same levels of alcoholism, suicide, domestic abuse, generation after generation,” he said. “Where's the person's dignity? Where's your self worth? It's a tragedy… But that’s my view on entitlements. They kill the human spirit, breed dependency and rob people of their dignity.”

Fielding questions from the audience, Becker called on an attendee who asked about the likelihood that the next election would be "free and fair."

“I believe that the chances are very good. The Republicans are going to take over the Senate and House in 2022. I need to give you an optimism pill, sir,” Becker replied, garnering laughs from the crowd. “I believe that we will have the White House in 2024. The Democrats were looking at passing a horrendous bill, HR-1, that would have made election integrity a thing of the past permanently, and we would not have won. Thank goodness, it doesn't look like they're going to be able to get that through.”

The event ended with other candidates for political office approaching the podium and speaking to the gathered crowd. These candidates included Corey Lee for Stark County Sheriff; Jason Fridrich for City of Dickinson Commissioner; Marvin Lepp for Secretary of State; and a host of others.

For more information about the Southwest Patriots’ Coalition, visit their Facebook page or call Jeff Ficek at 701-227-8710.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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