North Dakota’s Congressional delegation—Kelly, Kevin and John—rallying with Trump true believers about a stolen election brought to mind the 1975 film "Stepford Wives." The film—something of a classic—was set in imaginary Stepford, Connecticut. There, all the wives were beautiful, obsessed with cleaning, and subservient to their husbands. They never acted on their own volition or had an original thought. (Spoiler alert: turns out they’d been murdered, replaced by robots, and—oh, dear—their families liked them that way.)

Republican lawmakers joining Donald Trump’s ongoing insistence the election was “stolen” is Stepford-like. They think and do what they’re told, although in their case they mostly just lay low, pretending they don’t know Trump lost.

So what if pretense mocks bedrock American institutions and values they’ve sworn to uphold. So what if parroting Trump’s delusions is anti-democratic (small “d”) and anti-American.

Big-time anti-American.

Gov. Doug Burgum didn’t attend the rally, which—given the scarcity of masks—probably was a good thing. Not only did Kelly, Kevin, and John not wear masks, but Burgum’s own lieutenant governor, Brent Sanford, and Sanford’s wife didn’t wear them, either. (Et tu, Brute?)

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Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., speaks at a rally in support of President Donald Trump in Bismarck on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kyle Martin / Forum News Service
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., speaks at a rally in support of President Donald Trump in Bismarck on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kyle Martin / Forum News Service

The governor—who showed leadership in the early days of the pandemic, crunching data, carefully closing and reopening businesses, and keeping North Dakotans in the loop—gave up as summer waned and the election approached. Yes, ND pandemic numbers grew grimmer by the day, but, as Burgum’s spokesperson was quoted in a Forum article, “[W]e want to confirm a longer-term trend before changing the risk level.” Translated from euphemism into practical language that means North Dakota led the world in per-capita COVID cases for over two months (and his reelection) before Burgum declared a mask mandate. In fact, as I write this, one in every 1,000 North Dakotans has died from COVID.

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No doubt, that’s also why three people have been in and out of the position of state health officer since May and number four is an interim with no medical background.

We’re in a curious world today, a world where one of our two major national political parties is a personality cult: The Republican cult of Trump. In this reality-optional world Republican lawmakers—much like fictional Stepford wives—are validated for echoing their leader and embracing subserviency. After all, is it such a big deal to duck and cover when Trump implies epidemiologists are evil, science is schmuck, masks are for weenies, and he is America’s savior who can’t lose an election but could have it stolen?

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., addresses a pro-Trump rally on Saturday, Nov. 7, in Bismarck. Kyle Martin / Forum News Service
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., addresses a pro-Trump rally on Saturday, Nov. 7, in Bismarck. Kyle Martin / Forum News Service

Pshaw, pshaw. Personal integrity is so overrated.

Certainly nobody expects our delegation or governor to react to Trump’s firing this week of a top Department of Homeland Security official charged with election legitimacy who tweeted, “59 election security experts all agree ‘in every case…these claims [of election fraud] have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’”

No matter, Kelly, Kevin and John, (and Doug) know “mum’s the word.” Because—oh, dear—North Dakota voters like them that way.

Ahlin lives in Fargo and is a frequent contributor to The Forum's opinion pages. Email janeahlin@yahoo.com.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.