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Donkeys who think they are elephants: political tales from the District 30 primary election.

Somehow, on the night of the June 11, 2024 North Dakota District 30 primary election, not long after cleaning up the supper dishes, I ended up on the phone with my ISP. Concerning network issues prompted the call, leading to about an hour on the phone.


“I’m trapped in a tech support fractal!” I whispered to my friend as I was put on hold by the tech support gal who admitted she was on hold with someone more knowledgeable and higher up on the tech support ladder. It was trickle-down theory on hold.


“I’m new,” the tech gal apologetically explained somewhere around the 40-minute mark.

She was also an extreme slow-talker, and while I took some delight in actually understanding her flat prairie accent, it felt as if I’d met the DMV sloth from Zootopia. Back and forth we went, between tinny-sounding music and questions she’d relay to the other person.


Lord, why do you insist on teaching me patience! I prayed impatiently, trying to stay polite on the phone, even as the hour grew late.


The problem was eventually solved, I think/hope. But at times I felt as if I was helping with her training more than anything.


“Fedorachak, eh?” popped up on my phone as I finally sat down to watch an episode of Rosemary and Thyme on TV. A friend, who pays more attention to politics than I do and works in D.C., had sent a message.


What? I was confused. And then it hit me: today was the primary election.


Now don’t you worry, I voted. I just happened to vote early.


Arriving home after a road trip in which I spent slightly longer than a week in a van of six women, I headed over to vote early, then pay quarterly taxes, then on down the list of things to do that slams into you when you dare take a vacation. In the grand scheme of the Absent-Minded Professor, I forget about stuff on a significantly regular basis. I run a tight to-do list and once something is checked off as completed, I move on to the rest and forget about it because there’s simply not enough room to remember it all.


It’s probably hard for you to believe, that I could forget about the primary election.


The barrage of postcards and large-format mailings I received for this primary election (and national, too, frankly), not to mention the number of text messages—sometimes eight a day!—that my phone sent directly to spam has been astounding. Email, too.


A lot of trees died this election cycle, that’s all I can say. Hopefully the local printers made bank.


But considering the constant mailings and texts, it would seem impossible to forget about the election. My excuse is that after so much of this political bombardment, their daily arrival became so normalized that I forgot specifically what they were about. “We have always lived in the castle” is replaced with “We have always received ginormous red, white, and blue postcard mailings.”


“Oh, I forgot it was the election!” I replied back to my friend in D.C. who had actually done the job of watching my own state’s results. My friend then informed me that Cara Mund won the swimsuit competition, so the conversation downgraded quickly.


Before heading off to bed, I looked up the winners of the primary.


Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, the District 30 incumbents won, though I’m happy to say I know specifically that what I wrote and shared about their behavior impacted a handful of people who hadn’t been aware of what was going on and who had planned to vote for the incumbents but ended up changing their mind. At least it’s something.


“They might be on the general election ballot, but I meant what I said about not supporting them,” I told my friend, regarding the alleged Republican candidates from my district. “I will never vote for them again until they answer for their behavior and to the people of the district.”


Yes, that’s right. I won’t vote for the Republican candidates in my district in the coming election.


I’m not playing the game.


Circling the wagons and voting straight party ticket in the general election just to rack up technical R’s on the roster for the team, as if the festering problem of bad representation and bad voting records don’t exist, is not something I’ll do. It’s inconsistent behavior. I know I’ve been called a RFK, Jr.1 fangirl and other things that suggest an incapability of higher thought, but I don’t automatically vote straight ticket outside of primaries.


For example, I have never once voted for Doug Burgum.2


I don’t care if you have an R after your name.


If you have a stance or vote in a manner not deserving of the conservative label and the values I hold important, or are a compromising squish in general and seriously lacking intestinal fortitude, I cannot and will not support you. I will write in, leave blank, or give an ear to your competitor to see if they are a worthy candidate regardless of what party they are from.


But those postcards.


Huge. Booklets. Folded. The size of billboards, practically.


Some of the postcard mailings that arrived in the days before the election3 were sent by a PAC that I wasn’t familiar with. They called out the votes of District 30 incumbents Diane Larson, Glenn Bosch, and Mike Nathe in a direct and shocking manner, detailing some of the more troubling votes they’d placed on bills in the last session that dealt with reducing punishment for drug dealers (making note of fentanyl and heroin), allowing children to be exposed to things like drag queen shows as long as they were on private property, and allowing freely available filthy books in the libraries and schools.


“Holy cats, did you see this?” I asked my friend, showing him the first one that arrived. It was no-holds barred in its bluntness on what this PAC thought of the incumbents’ votes that allowed kids to have exposure to drag shows as long as it was on private property, complete with photos from such events.


Now, I have to assume Larson, Nathe, and Bosch had reasons for their votes. I’m hoping it wasn’t just to avoid rocking the boat in order to maintain power, to wade into the mucky gray area of compromise for career longevity, or to secure a choice committee position in some kind of quid pro quo. I’m hoping they don’t think allowing these things is good for kids and for our state.


I’m really hoping on that last one.


But hopium isn’t enough to vote on.


Wouldn’t it have been nice if they’d been able to respond to the claims made in those postcards?


Their votes on those issues were long known, and they could have explained in detail at the past several district meetings. I’d love to have asked them why they voted as they did, hoping to find out if there was some nuance I was missing. But because they refused to show up and participate, and refused to respond to my attempts to contact them, I had nothing else to go on except their votes that ultimately supported things that harmed children and were not conducive to dealing with the growing lawlessness, suicide rates, and social dissolution that’s creeping further into North Dakota.


The postcard that came a few days later, one that featured the filthy books, made me feel physically sick.


It was a folded postcard, sealed with a sticker and a warning adults not to have children around to read it which was pointedly ironic since the problem is that kids can read this stuff elsewhere without parents knowing. Inside, the postcard featured images and text from three books. It made note of where the books could be found, including the Bismarck Public Library, the state library, and some Bismarck Public Schools.


To anyone clinging to the “it’s bad elsewhere but it’s not here in North Dakota, not in our good down-home schools,” please understand that it is here, in full force.4 It’s those kinds of books that drove me to write a series of books for kids that were free from all of that garbage and filth.



I threw the postcard away. I didn’t want it in the house, its content was so disturbing.


I don’t know how Larson, Nathe, and Bosch justified voting in a manner that apparently reduced drug sentencing, allowed kids to be exposed to predatory sexual grooming under apparently the guise of “private property rights,” or feeling more concerned about adult librarians and library associations and whatever else, all at the cost of the lives, minds, and souls of children, but whatever the case, even if they won’t answer to their district, they will answer to God someday.


I’m not joking about that, even if you want to make a joke out me for saying it.


It’s not a threat.


It’s not sticking religion into politics.


It’s not something I have any say in.


It’s a statement of reality.


It’s one thing to vote in a manner that harms adults, but God is very clear about what his expectation is towards the weak and innocent. Isn’t it strange, with that being a particular concern for God, that so much social unrest and political fighting involves harming the unborn, children, and young teens?


I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am responsible to God for every word I say or write and that in 20+ years of blogging I’ve not been as careful as I ought to. In that same way, politicians who have gotten used to the game are still responsible for their votes, actions, and questionable compromises even if it doesn’t seem like they’re doing anything out of the ordinary. The current version of normal and ordinary, in a culture sliding into the sewer, still stinks.


All the little political dramas and victories and cliques and pragmatism and “reasonable” compromise are going to be very empty on judgment day when you explain to God all the legal and logical intricacies of why it was OK for you to vote (or elect such people) to allow adults to hurt kids through drugs, the written word, and sick sexually-charged gender-bending shows.


Millstones are heavy.


We have to see the lie in pragmatism.


I wrote a book about the whole debacle that was the pandemic, and in it I included an essay based on Solzhenitsyn’s “Live Not By Lies” essay. His 1974 essay took on a new life for many people during that time of government-sponsored peer-pressured gaslighting.



The principle of not living in lies still stands.


We are a culture in a state of dissolution because we are made up of individuals living by lies to the point where we think the lies are truth, or close enough. We slide further into the pit through compromise disguised as progress or what’s befitting our current culture and generations. We took what is wrong and evil and sick and normalized it by calling it good and right and even expected, telling ourselves the biggest lie of all.


My conscience cannot allow me to support anyone who didn’t go all out and fight against this tsunami of putrid cultural rot when they had the chance to protect innocent children, no matter how imperfect a bill might have been.


God sees.


The Fargo Forum and Bismarck Tribune and all the erudite columnists and bloggers in the state can snicker and giggle and joke about those who think such things, continuing to play the political chess game…but God sees. You don’t have to believe in God at all or even in a way that impacts how you live your life, but it doesn’t change the reality.


I don’t demand perfect people, because there are none, but I do demand owning up to your actions. I do expect political leaders to talk to their constituents so we know if there was a good reason to have allowed harm to continue to flow to the children of this state.


If District 30 incumbents Larson, Nathe, and Bosch win the general election—without my vote, mind you—and end up back in the legislature, I’ll have a new enthusiasm watching how they vote so I can write about it. I’ll certainly contact them with sincere hopes of hearing back. I’ll surely show up to district meetings if I’m able to see how they and their pals behave. Maybe I’ll pop over to the Capitol and watch them in action to get a better sense of motivation.


I’ll pray they finally take up the role of a servant leader, show some humility, and agree to meet with their district and explain their votes. I’ll absolutely give them an honest chance if they do so, and am still hoping they have good reason for allowing filth and harm to be accessible to North Dakota kids until the next legislature when I hope someone tries again to fight the good fight.


But I won’t get my hopes up.

epilogue web divider

Over the years, people have asked why I don’t run for some kind of office. My response is a half-joking “I’m ill-suited for the task.”


But it’s true.


The main reason I’ve not gotten involved in politics is that I don’t really enjoy people. I like to serve people, I care about people, I like to help people, I want to encourage people, I like to give gifts and create things people might enjoy…but I don’t like being around them in large quantities for extended periods of time. I don’t like being on stage and having people know me. I don’t like selfies, even. That’s not a temperament that ought to be leading people, and I know that. So there is the conundrum: there’s no politics without people.


The second reason, though, is a fear of growing too callous with the nature of the job. A hardened heart and destroyed soul is a terrible thing.


Politics seems to be a system, from local all the way up to national, that erodes the souls of man. Rare is the person who can maintain consistent ethics and remain grounded once they step into the meatgrinder of political gamesmanship, whether as a candidate or as a political wonk.


Being a politician, all joking aside, is a job in which you are entrusted with an incredible God-ordained task, and that is one of leading, serving, and protecting people so they flourish.


It is not to further your community standing, your bank account, or your fame. It is not to fit in with the expectations of a group. It’s not to maintain a grip on power. You are not to be elevated and put on a pedestal. You are called to serve.


God tells us that when you’ve been given a lot, whether in power or money or position, you are held accountable for it.5 Leaders, in particular, have to answer for how they treated and led the people God put in their care, because God is the one who puts a leader in place and can also take them down.6


Larson, Nathe, and Bosch have been given much by God and by the people in District 30, whether they view it that way or not. It was given to them, not of their own works or worth. And yet so far, with all political gamesmanship aside, they have done things that raise serious questions in these very difficult and scary cultural and national times, things that they will be held accountable for someday if they don’t do right by the people they have been called to serve.


They and their pals would be wise to have a change of heart and embrace all of the people in their district, meeting with them to explain their votes to foster understanding without hiding behind endorsements, vague postcards, sneaky behavior, and empty promises.


 

1 I want to note that I would never vote for RFK, Jr. While I liked his book about Fauci and some of his positions on health freedom, I did not care for his involvement in the pipeline protest (which I noted in my 2017 book Blue Like A River), nor do I like nearly all of the rest of his political stance on things such as abortion and social issues. It is possible to come upon a person and discern the things that you can abide by and also be aware of what you can’t. Most of us aren’t single-celled organisms and are capable of complex thought.



2 You’re welcome, Doug, but please don’t cry. When you use your fortune to fund a PAC to take out real conservative legislators and candidates in North Dakota, promise no statewide mask mandate and then drop the hammer after you’re safely re-elected, and then try to cozy up to be Trump’s VP pick after running political ads wearing flannel and ball caps out in farm fields, I think your real self is perfectly on display.


3 Election day isn’t the election. The start of early voting is. And people voting absentee are doing it before that. So your timing of the few days before the election doesn’t work out great for any person who was truly undecided up until the moment they checked a box.


4 Are North Dakota schools good? I don’t know. Some might be. But the overall test scores aren’t impressive. We have to get our heads out of the sand in thinking that somehow in North Dakota the hands of time have slowed and we’re not rotting as bad as the big cities and far off places we see in the news. The garbage is in our schools, our libraries, and on the computers and phones kids are using at home. This is why these kinds of issues matter when it comes to choosing candidates. District 30 candidates didn’t do anything to protect your kids from this stuff, and you still selected them anyway? Why? Because Hoeven said they were good guys? Because they had bigger signs around town? Because you didn’t know any better and you recognized the names? Because you think kids being exposed to that kind of stuff is a positive?


5 No, Spiderman didn’t come up with it. God did. See Luke 12:48.


6 That’s in Daniel 2:21. And that means that a people or group that deserves bad leaders are given the leaders they deserve. We like to think we’re good people and are going to take back our state/nation, but if we are individually corrupt inside, living in lies and secretly enjoying the filth and manipulations of the culture, God knows and sometimes provides bad leaders as a form of judgment, giving us exactly what our hearts truly want. I’ll let you extrapolate from there.

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