MINOT, N.D. — One of the defining characteristics of Trumpism — and make no doubt about it, the secretive members of the North Dakota Legislature's Bastiat Caucus of Republicans are true-blue Trumpists — is that they care very little about the principles and ideals America was founded upon.
The things the nation's founders sought to protect with the U.S. Constitution, like free speech.
If the Electoral College's outcome is not to their liking, they'll storm the U.S. Capitol and hurt people.
If someone speaks against their candidates, they'll seek to silence him (or her, as the case may be).
Case in point, Bastiat lawmaker Jeff Magrum, a state Representative from Hazelton who caucuses with the Republicans, has introduced House Bill 1256, which, if passed, would prohibit whoever holds the office of Governor from spending their own money on political advocacy.
The governor wouldn't even be allowed to speak in favor of preferred candidates by way of an endorsement.
I shouldn't have to explain why this bill is, or at least should be, a non-starter, but I will.
The First Amendment is the primary problem for Magrum's aspirations. You do not lose your First Amendment rights after being elected to office. Speaking in favor of your preferred candidate is squarely in the center of the sort of speech the First Amendment protects. Political donations to your preferred candidates and causes are also protected speech.
After all, how would you feel if the Legislature passed a law saying you couldn't donate to the National Rifle Association or the Democratic-NPL or a political action committee supporting a slate of candidates you like? In support or opposition to whatever causes or candidates you choose to target, the First Amendment protects your political activities.
Even if you're the governor.
Even if you're a governor who is very rich thanks to private-sector success.
Not that this matters to Trumpy extremists such as those who make up the Bastiat Caucus.
They don't have principles. They have political agendas, and to them, the ends justify the means.
This bill is clearly intended as a sort of childish retribution aimed at Gov. Doug Burgum for funding a political action committee that spent big money defeating Bastiat-aligned candidates during the 2020 election cycle.
I thought Burgum's activities were fine, from a legal and moral perspective, but more than a little ham-handed as a matter of practical politics. He probably could have done himself a favor and been a bit more subtle. Though Burgum's critics have made too much of the donations, carrying on as if the candidates he chose wouldn't have won without his money.
It's worth remembering that every legislative candidate Burgum supported, with the exception of Magrum's race, as it happens, had the endorsement of their local NDGOP district party.
Since when is it scandalous for a Republican candidate to back Republican-endorsed candidates?
But even if you disagree, does that mean what Burgum did should be illegal? Every contribution Burgum made was above-board, received lawfully, and duly disclosed by the candidates/committees receiving them.
Magrum and his fellow Bastiats, much like Trump, are a bunch of sore losers.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.