Will North Dakota Democrats Go The Path of Pennsylvania?

The special election result in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District has the political world abuzz. Political parties and pundits have spent the past 24-hours trying to categorize how a Democrat won in a deep red district that President Trump won by 20 points less than two years ago. “He ran as a Republican!” say Republicans who desperately tried to label the Democratic candidate as a liberal Nancy Pelosi follower. Democrats are pushing back that the candidate ran on pro-Obamacare and anti-Trump tax reform. Perhaps, it has more to do with the fact the candidate was a representation of his state. How does that relate to North Dakota?

This day in politics there is too much of a mentality that you’re either one of us or you’re one of them. Political purists are wanted on both sides. In reality, I get a sense most Americans are somewhere in the middle. You can be pro-background checks and still be a strong supporter of the second amendment. You can be pro-energy development while still demanding environmental safeguards. You can oppose large tax breaks that disproportionately go toward corporations while promoting middle-class tax relief and that doesn’t mean you’re threatening to “raise taxes.” All of the arguments I listed above are simplistic and used only as a way to label political opponents. That is why they struggle with moderate candidates and it may be why we see them winning in unexpected areas.

In North Dakota, you see the Republican party try to corner the market on policy positions. The nonsense that a willingness from a Democratic candidate to work with a Republican when it is good for the state really means they’re just running as Republicans is quite laughable. If we want to go down that path, we can point out the very long pattern of Republicans defeating Democratic measures in the legislative session, campaigning the next election cycle on those very same ideas, and then reintroducing them as their own next session. Does that mean they’re campaigning on North Dakota Democratic ideas?

 

Pennsylvania should serve as a wake-up call not just for North Dakota Republicans as Congressman Cramer was told, but also North Dakota Democrats. They must run with the strongest, most relatable candidates to the general public. Candidates that can raise the quick cash to get in front of the predictable labeling attempt from the Republican Party that they’re just some west-coast liberal Nancy Pelosi supporter. Republicans are trying desperately to do that with Heitkamp and linking her to Schumer even running ads based on a partisan political attack that was deemed false.

Heitkamp has been successful due in no small part to her independence. The U.S. House nomination is gathering a lot of attention heading into this weekend’s convention. If Democrats demand political purity, they will lose this rare opportunity in a unique election year. We will see who rises to the occasion come Saturday in Grand Forks.

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