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Our view: Minnesota nice? North Dakota nice? Let’s try to live up to our reputation

Our advice: Take it easy. Think twice before lashing out. Holster the harshest of those political opinions.

Herald graphic
Herald graphic

North Dakota nice? Minnesota nice?

Is it reality, or just a cliche that exists only when it’s easy or when someone needs something?

Case in point: Two state lawmakers recently announced that they will not seek re-election, citing the toxic environment that has come over politics in North Dakota. Republican Sen. Nicole Poolman and Democrat Sen. Erin Oban made the announcement within days of each other.

As reported last week by Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley, “in the last three years, a Minot senator referred to a Muslim congresswoman as a terrorist, a Grand Forks representative shared a post comparing former President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, and a Fargo representative claimed he was hacked two separate times after racist and sexist posts appeared on his Facebook page. Oban said some of her colleagues posting objectionable content on social media and feeling no responsibility to their politically diverse constituents is ‘the first sign of a broken system.’”

“There’s a new critical mass of people who thinks that you’re not doing your job if you’re not angry and fighting with people all the time," Poolman said.

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We’ve seen it elsewhere, too, in public meetings, at stores and – nationally, not locally – anger on commercial flights.

And here’s another example: As a Grand Forks man – a known conservative – battles very serious COVID-19 complications during an extended stay in the hospital, people have gone to his Facebook page, mocking him.

What is wrong with people?

In a September poll conducted by CNN, 74% of respondents said they are “very angry” or “somewhat angry” when “thinking about the way things are going in the country today.” And in a CBS poll in January, more than half of respondents said the biggest threat to their way of life is “other people in America.”

In a May piece published in the Hill – a newspaper that covers the U.S. Capitol – opinion contributor Howard Burton wrote that “an ever-opinionated but fundamentally kind-hearted people have become transformed into a collection of bitter, irascible, clannish, overly sensitive creatures perpetually mired in a constant state of flinty irritation at ‘the other half’ of the nation.”

The reasons? It’s tough to say, but certainly social media adds to it, since it can falsely assure people that they aren’t alone in their anger or distrust of other races, political parties, etc. Facebook even has its own data that show its algorithms add to the problem.

Partisan news networks and general distrust in government (three-quarters of Americans trusted the government in the 1960s, but only about one in five since 2010, according to Pew Research) must be factors as well.

Long lines at stores (due to the regional labor shortage) and inability to secure some retail items (due to the national supply chain crisis) only exacerbate our frustration.

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Our advice: Take it easy. Think twice before lashing out. Holster the harshest of those political opinions.

Let’s all try to regain a bit of compassion and empathy. Disagree, but reasonably. If you lose your cool, apologize.

We’re North Dakotans and Minnesotans, traditionally known for our niceness. And it’s the holiday season, for goodness’ sake.

Let’s try to live up to our reputation.

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