(The following was submitted as a guest post by Perry Miller of Wahpeton, ND. Miller expands on a conversation we had when he was a guest on “Happy Hour in the Heartland”. The audio of that podcast can be heard above.)
Why do people belong to political parties? Is it because our parents did? Our boss says so? Or we only watch a certain news network? It’s a question I doubt most of us think about much. Perhaps it’s for expediency: I want to win an election, so I’ll run as a <insert party>.Whatever the reason, our minds are made up in most cases, and we’re typically only interested in the facts that we agree on.
It’s time to start asking ourselves these questions. Or maybe more importantly, we need to ask why we have political parties in the first place, and why, realistically, there are only two to choose from.
I’m 6-0 when it comes to running for local, nonpartisan office, from township supervisor to county commissioner to city council member. But put a “D” behind my name, and I’m 0-2.
While out campaigning for the North Dakota State Senate in 2014, I was chastised by a good (very conservative) friend. He told me that I should be running as an Independent, because in his opinion, I was one . Maybe he was right. But can a candidate win as an Independent once they’ve been ‘branded’?
We’ve heard the name RINO – Republican in Name Only – for those Republicans who dare to step out of line and anger the conservative base. We’ve also heard the liberals shrieking at moderates like Senator Heidi Heitkamp because she won’t support a gun ban or angrily thrust DAPL protest signs.
Maybe, just maybe, the answer lies with us . Perhaps we should do our homework, and actually find out how candidates have voted and what they stand for, rather than make assumptions based on a “D” or “R” on the ballot.
Take, for example, President Donald Trump. He’s on record as being pro-choice, but miraculously now, he’s not. Trump berated Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns, yet he refuses to do so himself. The list of deviations is long. Before he won the primary, most Republicans ridiculed him, saying “he’s not a Republican” or “he’s a goof!” But since winning the presidency, a vast majority of those same people defend him vigorously. Let’s be clear: I’m not bashing the President. I completely understand, and even agree with, the “let’s give him a chance” sentiment, but I’m still trying to figure out who and what he is.
Politics is like slow motion weather – winds and climates change. But if we don’t start educating ourselves before getting to the ballot box, we may be facing a very unpleasant storm.