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Port: Trump should bring policy ideas, not insults

MINOT -- Donald Trump is an embarrassment. Even in the world of politics, where the bar for honor and integrity is set pretty low, Trump is a cretin. A brilliant sort of cretin who has masterfully manipulated the three ring circus of presidential...

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Rob Port

MINOT -- Donald Trump is an embarrassment.

Even in the world of politics, where the bar for honor and integrity is set pretty low, Trump is a cretin. A brilliant sort of cretin who has masterfully manipulated the three ring circus of presidential politics to his advantage, but a cretin none the less.

But there is a good chance he could also be our next president. In terms of practical policy considerations, we need to start figuring out what that means.

I’m not the only one thinking that way. Even while her fellow North Dakota Democrats rail against Trump as an extremist and a misogynist, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has started talking about sitting down and working with the man should he be elected.

“The people will have a chance to vote. If Donald Trump is elected president there will be a great opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about what that agenda looks like,” Heitkamp told Politico recently. “If he’s president, we’re going to have disagreement. But we’d better all figure out how to come up with an agenda for the American people.”

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Heitkamp has the right idea. So when Trump visits North Dakota later this week to speak at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, let’s hope he leaves the bombastic campaign schtick at home and starts getting serious about policy.

According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, North Dakota is one of 10 states most vulnerable to federal regulation. That’s because our state’s most important industries, energy and agriculture, are under constant threat from federal agencies like the EPA.

And while state politicians can talk a good game on the campaign trail about diversifying our state’s economy, the primacy of energy and agriculture in North Dakota isn’t going to change any time soon.

What we need to hear from Trump, then, is how North Dakota industry - from farmers and ranchers to coal miners and roughnecks - will be treated under his administration.

He’s off to a good start with North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer at his side.

When Cramer endorsed Trump in April it almost seemed a lark. Something the often puckish congressman was doing simply because he knew it would stir up his political opponents.

But now, weeks later, Cramer has emerged as an important policy adviser to the Trump campaign. There are even rumblings - hugely premature, I’m sure - that Cramer could be a part of Trump’s cabinet.

For now, it would suffice if some of Cramer’s practical, hands-on knowledge of regulatory policy began to surface in Trump’s stump speeches. Not only would it be a relief from the buffoonish tirades Trump typically treats us to, but it would be reassurance that the man could actually govern should he win this race-to-the-bottom election.

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When he comes to North Dakota, Trump will be addressing a conference organized by the state’s oil and gas industry. These folks, buffeted by a market rout, are not going to be in the mood for theatrics I think. They want straight talk.

If Trump delivers, it could well mark the point at which the candidate stopped being a caricature of everything that’s ugly about presidential politics and began to be about something substantive.

Related Topics: HEIDI HEITKAMP
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