The greatest Republican of them all — no, it's not Donald Trump — extolled the virtues of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” No, it's not Rick Becker, either, if you're still guessing.
What Abraham Lincoln was saying should be self-evident, but news travels slowly in North Dakota, especially when it comes to the state Legislature, whose working motto is “Above the people, bypassing the people, for Big Oil people.” Oh, I forgot the last line: “Amen.”
I'm talking about Initiated Measure 2, schemed in the Legislature last session by Republicans who just happen to be smarter than you, the wretched refuse, who constantly thrust upon them, through initiated measures, things like ethics, fiscal responsibility and other unnecessary impediments to doing Big Oil's bidding.
In a nutshell (no pun intended), Measure 2 would allow the Legislature to veto any constitutional amendment you, the huddled masses of North Dakota, approve. So, if Measure 1, which, in 2018, established an Ethics Commission, banned foreign political contributions, and demanded transparency concerning lobbying and conflicts of interest, were held under the proposed rule changes, the Legislature, with its Republican super-majority, could simply say “no.” And they would, because, frankly, what the heck do you know?
Citizen government is all well and good, I suppose, until citizens start getting involved. You folks need to sit down, shut up, eat your vegetables, and just vote “R” if you know what's good for you.
The good news, I guess, is that under such a scenario, the Legislature, taking a cue from the president, would have you vote twice on the same issue — two years later. An “are you sure you want to do this, you dummies” re-vote. It sounds cumbersome, but it would give the Legislature more time to figure out how to more efficiently circumvent any voter-approved constitutional measure as they did by dragging their feet on medical marijuana and when they gave Big Oil a Big Tax Break by undermining nonconstitutional initiated measures. By the way, how do you like your property tax bill this year?
For a party that celebrates self-governance and the will of the people, they sure don't like to be told what to do unless it comes with a free trip to Antigua, steak dinners, and all the Windsor-Cokes you can swill and still find your Uber.
The Big Red Machine has already quashed Measure 3 which would've restructured elections to include open primaries, paper records of all ballots, instant runoffs, an expanded military voting window, and horrifyingly, put redistricting in the neutral hands of that pesky Ethics Commission so the party in power could longer choose their own voters.
They argued that some folks didn't know what they were signing, specifically that petitioners highlighted the military voting angle but didn't explain the measure fully, including the part where it would help thwart rigged elections and restore democracy, or as some call it, the end of America as we know it.
Maybe the process was flawed, as the State Supreme Court agreed, but the thing to remember is Republicans didn't trust you uninformed untouchables enough to vote on it. They decided for you. Remember that when you tell them to stick it on Measure 2.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.