GRAND FORKS, North Dakota: Around 1,600 Republicans gathered at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota for the Peace Garden State’s GOP Convention. While delegates encountered the typical internal party struggles, there was one common thread they could all agree on. North Dakota was not going to become California.
Donald Trump became President by promising to “make America great again.” North Dakotans have a different challenge. Their state is already great. It is normal, functional and successful. They want to keep it that way.
Staying North Dakota Strong
California is at least $26 billion in debt. North Dakota has zero debt. California has full-time politicians who receive six-figure salaries as their state descends into chaos. North Dakota’s citizen legislators understand the daily struggles of balancing budgets and meeting payrolls.
California Governor Jerry Brown is a career government employee. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is a self-made billionaire who founded Great Plains Software and created thousands of private sector jobs.
Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford was a CPA before helping run his family’s automobile dealership. NDGOP Executive Director Dane Ferguson owns Ferguson Books, a family and child-friendly bookstore.
Midwestern values still matter in a state where a Sunday prayer breakfast is regarded positively.
North Dakota Diversity
North Dakota is a very diverse state, which leads to delegates with divergent interests. Rural Western North Dakota is where the oil boom occurred. Eastern North Dakota right on the Minnesota border has two of the three largest cities. In addition to Grand Forks, Fargo has a burgeoning tech sector led by a sprawling Microsoft campus.
The state is less diverse ideologically. North Dakota is a reliably red Republican state. The only outlier is Senator Heidi Heidtkamp, who Republicans are united in defeating in the 2018 midterm elections.
Unfortunately, not everything was harmonious at the convention. Secretary of State Al Jaeger retired from public life after 25 years on the job in the face of a delegate primary revolt. Businessman Will Gardner will be the party nominee.
North Dakota, it’s not California
North Dakota succeeds precisely because it is the anti-California. The once Golden State has beautiful weather but crazy and toxic leftist politics. North Dakota’s convention weekend saw miserably cold 14-degree weather. The brutally frigid April was another reminder that the good guys are the oil pipelines that provide heating oil to homes.
Global warming fanatics who would have everyone freeze to death were not in attendance.
California has a failed public school system. A significant number of North Dakota GOP delegates homeschool their children. One bright, cheery eight-year old girl impressed adults with her intelligence and thoughtfulness. A perfect representation of the values of these convention delegates, her first name was Reagan.
North Dakota Strong
One sad note affected some of the delegates just as the convention was getting started. On Friday, a Canadian bus crash killed 15 in Saskatchewan. Most of the deceased were youth hockey players. Grand Forks is only about 90 minutes from the Canadian border, and ties between North Dakota and Canada run deep.
The main takeaway from the convention was the concept of civility. Midwesterners are as passionate about politics as anybody else, but the delegates treated their disagreements as a family squabble. On the biggest issues, the delegates were united. The fights were based in policy mixed with politeness.
Then again, it is easier to be nice when your state is succeeding. North Dakotans know full well what has happened to California. The NDGOP delegates will keep North Dakota normal because they accurately represent the people in their state. They are not detached elites. They are the people.
Nonetheless, as soon as the convention ended, they rolled up their sleeves and vowed to help each other deal with the weather. The political storm had passed, but now the delegates had to prepare for another April snowstorm.