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Port: North Dakota’s Lawmakers Should Pledge Allegiance to Their Constituents, Not a Right-Wing Group

MINOT — State Rep. Brandon Prichard, the author of many execrable social media messages , has started up a federal political action committee aimed at promoting “values and principles” among North Dakota’s elected leaders.

That might be considered a worthy endeavor if we could say that someone like Prichard has any values or principles. Case in point, Prichard recently made national headlines with a social media post inveighing, in the context of Ohio’s approval of a ballot measure protecting access to abortion, against even allowing ballot measure votes. “Direct democracy should not exist,” he wrote. “Case-in-point: Ohio legalizing the slaughter of babies.”

It’s worth pointing out that Prichard was a member of the sponsoring committee for a ballot measure implementing term limits in the 2022 election cycle. I guess direct democracy is OK if it pursues a political outcome Prichard wants?

Maybe he doesn’t know what words like “values” and “principles” mean?

The organization Prichard has started is called Citizens Alliance of North Dakota. “Our mission at Citizens Alliance of North Dakota is to bring integrity, accountability, and transparency to our state’s legislative process,” Prichard, who has lied about his enrollment in law school at the University of Minnesota, said in a press release announcing the group.

“We believe in the power of aligning our elected officials with the values and principles enshrined in the North Dakota State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. To that end, we’ve created the Citizens Alliance of North Dakota Pledge,” he continued.

The pledge asks lawmakers to commit to vague notions like the “right to life” the “right to self-defense,” and “election integrity.” I’ll not demean the importance of these policy areas, but I would point out that supporting something like “election integrity” means a lot of different things to different people.

Some of us think “election integrity” means equal opportunity to cast ballots that are counted fairly. To the acolytes of disgraced former President Donald Trump’s political cult, it seems to mean that any election they don’t win is illegitimate.

Anyway, if we want to discern what Prichard’s agenda is, beyond exhorting his colleagues to sign ill-defined policy pledges, we need look no further than Idaho, where a similar group, called Citizens Alliance of Idaho, asked lawmakers to sign a pledge and then invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into defeating the incumbents who didn’t in Republican primaries.

It’s not hard to imagine Prichard attempting something similar here.

Prichard’s group has only filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, so it’s not clear at this point what the group’s financial capacity will be.

Another federal committee Prichard created, called the Young Republicans Victory Fund, reported raising nearly $21,000 as of June 30, 2023, mostly from other Republican state lawmakers in Prichard’s Trumpy milieu, though it’s not clear if that group will have any connection to the Citizens Alliance organization.

Among the contributors disclosed were Rep. Dan Ruby and Rep. Jeff Hoverson of Minot, Rep. Scott Dyk of Williston, Rep. Matthew Heilman of Bismarck, Rep. Vicki Steiner of Dickinson, and Rep. Kent Weston of Sarles.

Activist groups pushing pledges on elected officials is nothing new, though the effort has taken on a new connotation in the Trump era. In the American tradition of public service, it’s believed that elected officials are duty-bound to serve all of their constituents, even those who belong to rival factions.

Republican lawmakers must consider the interests of their Democratic constituents and vice versa. Elected leaders serve the voters, not their political party or some ideological group.

Organizations such as Prichard’s seem out to tear down that tradition of public service in favor of something more akin to what you see in Communist China, where government officials put the ideological diktats of the Communist Party above all else.

If American politics, and in particular the politics of Trump-aligned Republicans, are slipping and sliding toward authoritarianism, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that the ideological groups aligned with those politics are increasingly aligned with the sort of loyalty oaths and litmus tests we see in authoritarian regimes.

It’s hard to say how much success Prichard will have with his group. He’s not well-liked or respected even among many of his Republican colleagues. Still, if his group has deep pockets, he may be able to make a mess in Republican legislative primaries, where it doesn’t take much money to make an impact.

Source : InForum