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Letter: Heitkamp exhibits political independence

Outside of Scheels stores are statutes of four U.S. presidents, and beside them are plaques with quotations from those presidents. Unfortunately, several of the quotations are fictitious. They're simply made-up, as if Scheels wanted to remake these very different presidents in its own arch-conservative image.

One sees a similar reworking of reality when reading board chairman Steve D. Scheel's recent letter to the editor, in which he questions Senator Heidi Heitkamp's affinity for bipartisanship.

Regardless of what Scheel or the Republican Party tells you, one of Heitkamp's most distinguishing characteristics is her political independence. According to voteview.com, Heitkamp's party loyalty score is 79 percent.

To put that number in perspective, Republican John McCain, the famed political "maverick," has a party loyalty score of 93 percent. Likewise, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's libertarianism is so extreme he often seems out of place in the GOP, but his party loyalty score is 87 percent. In short, almost no one in the Senate exhibits more independence than Heitkamp.

Lawmakers who refuse to be mere party hacks can be frustrating—sometimes they vote the way you wish, and sometimes they don't. But at least they're exercising their own judgement; they're their own man—or woman.

Can that be said of Rep. Kevin Cramer? His party loyalty score is 98 percent. Is it reasonable to suppose that virtually every bill that House Speaker Paul Ryan proposes benefits North Dakota? If not, why would Cramer vote for those that don't, except to please his party bosses?

It's true that Americans have become more polarized, but even now, according to the Pew Research Center, 32 percent hold some mixture of liberal and conservative views, depending on the subject at hand. Heitkamp reflects those values and has the voting record to prove it. If you don't believe me, you can look it up—just not at Scheels.

Burin lives in Grand Forks.

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