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McFeely: Fact is, ND legislators are smarter than you

Forum New Service columnist Mike McFeely

FARGO — There is much fire and brimstone from the left side of the political aisle in North Dakota, at least as much as there can be from a caucus that can fit into a VW Beetle, over Republican plans to filet the results of Measure 1, the ballot initiative passed by voters last fall that would cut into the free vacations and steak dinners bestowed upon state legislators.

GOP lawmakers, upset those who provide their salary and health insurance have the gumption to impose bothersome rules on their supermajority, will spend much time this session figuring out a way to keep the campaign cash and gratis booze flowing, impediment-free.

This comes on the heels of the Republican Legislature dragging its feet on a medical marijuana measure the fine citizens passed overwhelmingly after their blue-haired, red-glowing representation didn't think pain relief for cancer patients was worth their time.

There is a bigger goal at play here, too, and that's to disembowel the initiative and referendum process, enshrined in the North Dakota Constitution by the state's forefathers who saw the need for a check on unresponsive or clueless legislators, in its entirety.

If you flunked high school civics, or just don't care because you're too panicky about the caravan of illegal immigrants making its way though Dickey County because there's no wall 1,500 miles away, initiated measures and referendums allow you, Joe Six-Pack Who Goes To Breastaurants in Frisco, to bypass the Legislature and make laws you think are worthy.

You want medical marijuana in North Dakota? You can have it. You want transparency in government? You can have it.

Except that, you can't. Because Republican lawmakers don't think you should have those things, even though you said you wanted them.

Hence, the source of angst from Democrats, who've taken to newspaper editorial pages and airwaves to scream that GOPers think they are smarter than you because they won't follow your direction.

We're going to let you in on a little secret: They are smarter than you.

Not because all of them are particularly intelligent — some are dumber than a highball glass at Harold Hamm's ranch — but because they keep getting elected over and over and over again. No matter what they do, or don't, Republicans keep getting sent back to the Capitol in droves. Except for Al Carlson, which is pretty sweet.

And that's why they're smarter you. Republicans know they can do whatever they want, even ignoring the will of the people who sign their checks, and there will be no price to pay. As long as they stick to the four basic food groups -- guns, religion, abortion and tax cuts -- voters will keep electing them.

People get the government they deserve and there's no better example of that than North Dakota, circa 2019. The bosses tell Republicans to do something, Republicans refuse and when it's time for a job review the bosses tell Republicans they're doing a great job.

Presented that scenario, who are the smart ones and who are dumb ones?

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