Bender: Independent swing votes wield great power

"Cara Mund's candidacy matters. If you've paid attention, you understand that Independent swing votes command power and force compromise. That's healthy for democracy."

Cara Mund meets with residents as she collects signatures Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in West Acres Mall, Fargo, to be placed on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives as an independent.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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I doubt Cara Mund knew who I was when the request came in. If she Googled me, a mobster also named Tony Bender would've popped up. Really. Try it.

So, it was an interview she couldn't refuse.

I planned to grill the Independent challenger for the U.S. House over her attack on North Dakota's patriarchy — in which I have a vested interest. She's been praised by liberals less-vested in the status quo than I, and patronized by conservatives: She's too pretty to be smart.

First off, getting by on your looks isn't easy. I've tried.

Another criticism is she lacks the spine to deliver substantive messaging. Really? Right out of the gate, she blasted the Roe v. Wade reversal, which most North Dakotans — the silent majority — don't support, either. Remember the 64% vote against 2014's restrictive abortion measure?


She's a traditionalist in matters of privacy. Keep Big Brother out of the bedroom. “Imagine having to prove rape or incest (or wanting to) or making doctors decide if a woman's close enough to death before they terminate a pregnancy to save her life.”

Name another candidate leading with that keg of dynamite.

I'll wait.


It certainly isn't incumbent Kelly Armstrong, who's barely bothered to campaign, although absentee voting — or as Trumpers call it, "cheating" — starts in a month. Entitlement. You don't have to exert yourself if voters don't understand they're being taken for granted.

Armstrong's disappearing act qualifies him to replace John Hoeven on milk cartons. I'd long believed Hoeven was a figment of our collective imaginations until Mund assured me she'd interned for the senator.

Her abortion stance shows guts, courage she exhibited as Miss America, publicly challenging an autocratic new regime after a weird coup against the pageant by former Fox News fox Gretchen Carlson. Hey, does that make Carlson a coup-ger? (I'm hilarious.) Don't call me sexist, either. You're the ones being racist against pretty people like me and Cara Mund.

Mund touched on numerous topics, including energy. “We'll remain dependent on fossil fuels (for the foreseeable future) but there's room for alternatives.” And education. She sees it as an investment in better-prepared, better-paid, productive tax-paying citizens.

Invest in an educated citizenry? Sacrilege! Then, who'll vote for Trump?


There's more. But I only have 500 words.

Debates will be critical in Mund's challenge to Armstrong and anti-choice Mark Haugen — quite possibly the first RINO to represent North Dakota Democrats. She'll question Armstrong's votes against veterans healthcare and affordable insulin. Possible explanation: Cheap insulin and veterans health care would devastate the funeral industry.

Rob Port hosts a debate on his Plain Talk Podcast on Sept. 7.

Mund's wheelhouse is the camera, however. Prairie Public Television scheduled a debate for Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. Such debates can make or break candidates. During the Kennedy-Nixon debate, viewers watched Tricky Dick sweat like Tricky Trump in a deposition. If you've seen Armstrong fidget on C-SPAN, you know he's got more tics than actual ticks.

The smart money's on Armstrong, though, unless he forgets himself on camera and picks his nose or something equally disqualifying. Mund's grossly underfunded. No political machine. But she's astute. And fearless. And big things always start small.

Her candidacy matters. If you've paid attention, you understand that Independent swing votes command power and force compromise. That's healthy for democracy.

Break up the machine.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.

Opinion by Tony Bender
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column from North Dakota for Forum News Service.
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